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Functions of coordination

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • Too often, information sharing is perceived by coordination partners to be the primary purpose of coordination.  While information sharing is one important aspect of coordination, it is certainly not the only one. 
  • Effective coordination is guided by principles—those promoted in the rights-based, survivor-centred and community-based approaches described in Section III—as well as by activities and responsibilities. Humanitarian actors implementing GBV coordination mechanisms should anticipate activities that will be required from the onset of an emergency and ensure appropriate staffing and membership of the coordination mechanism to guarantee these activities are undertaken. Some of the recommended tasks/activities of coordination are presented below; however, this information is not exhaustive: other responsibilities will certainly arise during the coordination process. (Also see Implementing a Coordination Mechanism.)

Coordination Activities

What it means

Case examples and Additional resources

Developing information systems for coordination


Collecting and sharing information, including:

- The ‘3 Ws’ –Who is doing What and Where

- Coordination mechanism documents (Terms of reference, Strategy/Action Plan, Meeting minutes, etc.)

- Rapid Assessments and other research documents prepared for public dissemination

- Training Schedule and Materials

- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

- Press releases and other information-related documents produced by the coordination mechanism

- Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) Materials

- Standard Resources on VAWG

More information and examples on developing information systems for coordination can be found in the GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.1.


Making appeals for GBV funding


Soliciting funds to support urgent needs:

UN system pooled-funding mechanism (Flash appeals, CERF, CAP)

Emergency Response Funds (ERF), managed by OCHA

Multi-donor trust funds

Traditional donors

UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women

See Section VI for more information on accessing funding.

Example:  To help other sectors not typically engaged in GBV prevention or response to integrate gender and GBV into their 2010 CAP proposals, the GenCap in Zimbabwe provided guidance notes to clusters and advocated in the CAP planning workshop to include gender and GBV as project prioritization and selection criteria.


Additional Resources:

GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.2.

Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office:

UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women

Interagency technical guidance on UN system funding procedures (Humanitarian Financing, CERF and CAP)


Additional information on humanitarian funding:

OCHA Humanitarian Appeals

OCHA Humanitarian Reform

OCHA Humanitarian Financing

Kerr, J,. 2007. The Second Fund Her Report: Financial Sustainability for Women’s Movements Worldwide  (Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).


Working with the media


Providing journalists with accurate information about GBV during an emergency offers an outlet for information that can be used in strategic ways to effect positive change.  Working with the media should entail monitoring media reports and, if necessary, providing training in ethical reporting.

Coordination partners can also engage with the media through: press releases, press statements, press conferences and interviews.

Example:  The GBV Unit of Liberia’s Ministry of Gender and Development (MOGD) has organized a critical mass of journalists working throughout the country who are willing to partner with agencies and community groups to advocate for the cessation of GBV.  This group calls itself Journalists Against GBV, and all participants have been trained in ethical guidelines. A representative from the group attends every GBV coordination meeting at the MOGD. Click here for more information.


Additional Resources: 

GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.4.

Drezin, J., (ed.), 2001Picturing a Life Free of Violence: Media and Communications Strategies to End Violence Against Women (UNIFEM).

Interpress Service and Gender Links, 2009.  “Reporting GBV: A Handbook for Journalists

M. Phillips. 2008. Working with the media: notes for refugee advocates. Forced Migration Review:8, pg 33-4.


Mainstreaming GBV into other



Working with sectoral colleagues to promote multi-sectoral, interagency action to prevent and respond to GBV and to encourage accountability of cluster/sector leads in meeting their sector-specific GBV responsibilities. (See Engaging with other clusters/sectors below, as well as Section VIII on Prevention Programming Mainstreamed Through Key Humanitarian Clusters/Sectors)

Example:  In Mozambique following the floods of 2007, the Protection Cluster was combined with the Education Cluster and there was no GBV Sub-Cluster. In order to ensure that GBV concerns were integrated in the preparedness and response strategies of all sectors, the Protection/Education Cluster leads identified GBV & HIV/AIDS Focal Points to participate in other clusters. Selected FPs attended the Child Protection & GBV in Emergencies Training (organized by Save the Children, UNFPA and UNICEF) to increase their knowledge and understanding of the issues prior to assuming their responsibilities. They were provided specific TORs as well as checklists to assist them in monitoring sectoral activities and reported back regularly to the Protection/Education Cluster (Ward, 2010).


Additional Resource:

GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.5. 


Supporting development of Standard

Operating Procedures (SOPs)


SOPs are meant to provide operational guidance at the field level based on a multi-sectoral approach to GBV and therefore require the endorsement of multiple GBV actors and agencies. Coordination partners can support the development of SOPs at the national and local levels. Making copies of all SOPs publicly available can be useful for those working in and travelling to field locations, as well for those working at the national level.  (See Section VII for more information on SOPs.)

GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.6 


IASC Gender SWG, 2008. Establishing Standard Operation Procedures for multi-sectoral and inter-organizational prevention and response to GBV in humanitarian settings (SOP Guide).



Building capacity of GBV partners


Building upon the strengths of GBV partners in order to improve the skills of all members of the coordination group. This is a collaborative process in which the expertise of all members—from people of concern to international NGOs—is shared amongst coordination partners to develop a strong and effective coordination mechanism.  See Section VI for more training tools in Staff Training and Capacity Building.

GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.7

 ARC, 2009. ARC Partnership Approach Guidance and Tools.

Vann, B. 2004. Training Manual Facilitator’s Guide: Multisectoral & Interagency Prevention and Response to Gender-based Violence in Populations Affected by Armed Conflict. RHRC/JSI Research and Training Institute.

Dipak N. and Michau L., 2004. Rethinking Domestic Violence: A Training Process for Community Activists (Raising Voices).

Dipak N. and Michau L., 2003Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence: A Resource Guide for Organizations in East and Southern Africa (Raising Voices).

 IASC, 2010 Different Needs - Equal Opportunities: Increasing Effectiveness of Humanitarian Action for Women, Girls, Boys and Men. Online course.



Developing information, education,

and communication (IEC) materials


Using participatory and community-based approaches to promote behaviors that improve health and well-being. The basic behavior-change goals of IEC related to GBV are usually two-fold: to reduce the incidence of GBV and to ensure that those who have experienced GBV are enabled to seek the care they need. See Section VIII for more information on IEC and other behavior change interventions.

Example:  During the post-election violence in Kenya (2008), the GBV Sub-cluster developed an information sheet for UN, government, and I/NGO actors to educate them about GBV basics.  Developing the information sheet enabled sub-cluster members to discuss and agree on key concepts and to share information with partners outside the sub-cluster in a standardized way (Ward, 2010).


Additional Resources: 

GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.8

Through Our Eyes: Participatory Communication for Community Empowerment and Social Change (ARC, ongoing).

UNFPA, 1999.  Reproductive Health in Refugee Situations: An Inter-Agency Field Manual, Appendix One.

IASC, 2005.  Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings: Focusing on Prevention of and Response to Sexual Violence in Emergencies.


Conducting assessments, data collection, monitoring, and knowledge management


Safe and ethical information-gathering about the nature and scope of VAWG as well as about the availability, utilization and effectiveness of services in a given setting ensures that the priorities identified by coordination partners are evidence-based, so that project development and implementation, policy work, funding solicitation, advocacy efforts, etc., are all rooted in identified problems and related needs. See Section VI for more information on assessments and Section VII on service delivery data collection.

Example:  In Uganda, the need for a rapid assessment of GBV in transit and return sites was identified by the GBV Sub- Cluster members at the district level. The national GBV Sub-Cluster organised inter-agency rapid assessments in four relevant   districts, which were led by the social-welfare department of the local  government. Numerous agencies contributed to the design of the assessment tool and to logistics, as well as to disseminating  the  results  of the  assessment.  Because of the inter- agency nature of the research, there was significant buy-in on the findings. Therefore, many partners (including the government) shifted their priorities and programming approaches to better meet the evolving needs on the ground (Ward, 2010).

Additional Resources:

GBV Coordination Handbook, Section IS 3.7

Ward, J. (ed). 2004. Gender-Based Violence Tools Manual.  RHRC Consortium.

The GBV Area of Responsibility’s collection of tools on information management.

WHO, 2007.  Ethical and safety recommendations for researching, documenting and monitoring sexual violence in emergencies.

Ellsberg, M. and Heise, L.  2005. Researching Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Activists. Washington DC: World Health Organization, PATH.


Conducting Advocacy

Advocacy is a critical responsibility of any coordination mechanism: it can be used to influence decision-makers in order to bring about changes in policies and programs that protect women and girls from violence during conflict and in post-conflict situations. (See A Note on Advocacy)

For additional information on advocating in humanitarian settings, see the International Rescue Committee’s GBV Emergency Response and Preparedness. Participant Handbook. Module 5: Advocating in Emergencies (2012).

GBV Coordination Handbook, Sections IS 3.2, 3.3, 3.4.

CEDPA Training Manual Series. 2000.Gender, Reproductive Health, and Advocacy” (Washington, DC, Sessions 9-14.)

International Alert and Women Waging Peace. 2004. Inclusive Security, Sustainable Peace: A Toolkit for Advocacy and Action, Section 5: Protecting Vulnerable Groups, London: International Alert and Women Waging Peace.

Jane Barry (Urgent Action Fund). 2005. Rising Up in Response: Women's Rights Activism in Conflict.