The purpose of this Handbook is to provide actors with guidance on how to coordinate child protection responses in humanitarian contexts in order to ensure more predictable, accountable and effective child protection responses in emergencies around the world.
This Handbook is designed for situations where the international community is formally engaged with the humanitarian response and where the cluster system has been activated. The Handbook may, however, also be useful for contexts where there is no cluster approach.
Although the Handbook is primarily addressed to child protection coordination teams, which may include coordinators, co-leads and information managers, the guidance is equally valid for all members of the child protection coordination group, including national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), government representatives and other members, who seek to achieve an effective and coordinated response.
Throughout this Handbook, the term ‘child protection coordination group’ will be used and may be taken as referring to ‘child protection sub-cluster’, ‘child protection working group’, ‘child protection Area of Responsibility’ or ‘child protection sector coordination group’.
This Handbook has four sections, each of which is divided into chapters:
- Section 1 explains the operating environment in which international humanitarian coordination takes place. It presents a brief background to, and key elements of, the United Nations system for humanitarian coordination as well as the mandates and responsibilities of relevant organizations. The section also provides an overview of the international standard framework that is central to child protection responses in emergencies.
- Section 2 unpacks the first core function of cluster coordination: to establish a platform for service delivery. The section presents the criteria for cluster activation and explores the foundations for setting up a child protection coordination structure, including establishing a coordination group at national and sub-national levels, managing the group, systems for information management, defining the roles of members in the coordination group, and transitioning and cluster deactivation.
- Section 3 focuses on the five other core functions of cluster coordination: informing strategic decision making, developing a child protection response strategy, building national capacity for preparedness, monitoring and evaluation, and advocacy. It also highlights key competencies for humanitarian child protection coordination and provides tips on how to interact with members, organize meetings, build consensus and resolve conflicts.
- Section 4 provides guidance to ensure standards for quality child protection programming are promoted and upheld.
Within each chapter in each section, reference documents are highlighted as either recommended reading, which coordinators should study, or further reading, which are optional but will enhance understanding.