Priority actions for first 7 days

A checklist for the first 30 days can be found at




Contact key informants


Stakeholder Groups include:

  • Donors
  • Government
  • NGOs (national and international)
  • CBOs
  • Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement (ICRC, IFRC, National Society)
  • Other Sectors
  • RC’s Office (and/or OCHA)
  • Academic institutions
  • Private sector
Meet and establish a relationship with your Government counterpart


  • It may be necessary to involve the Head of Agency and/or the RC/HC in identifying the single person within Government responsible for the sector.
  • Be prepared to brief your government counterpart daily, and even consider drafting his or her presentations
Meet RC/HC and his/her coordination team
  • Ensure that both parties understand what to expect of the other
  • Clarify who will carry out inter-cluster coordination (obtain contact details)
Attend security briefing
  • Mandatory for UN staff and advisable for others


Attend general coordination meeting


  • Be prepared to give a brief summary of what the Cluster membership is doing and what coordination mechanisms are being put in place
  • Put a poster on the wall in the RC/HC’s office informing visitors how to contact you
Familiarise yourself with the Cluster Lead’s Emergency Preparedness Plan and the UNCT’s latest contingency plan
  • If not yet in-country, obtain these prior to departure


Contact and meet other Cluster Coordinators
  • Often best done informally


Conduct initial Who, What, Where, When (4W) assessment with Cluster partners


  • Do this by phone using ‘partner profile’ forms.
  • Get partners to fill in forms by hand during coordination meetings
  • Information Manager to collate information into simple ‘monitoring matrix’
Plan immediate priority actions  

  • In accordance with the outline strategy
Identify Information Manager


  • Likely to be national staff in the first instance with no prior training in information management
  • Put him or her in contact with the Global Cluster Lead Information Management Focal Point
  • Ensure (s)he coordinates with the ICCG and/or IM working group (possibly a Humanitarian Information Centre sent by OCHA)

Agree an initial outline strategy


  • This need not be detailed but should at least orient Cluster partners to national policies, goals, and objectives

Visit the affected area


  • If more than a 24hr mission, make sure a deputy has been appointed to cover for your absence
Make sure the joint Rapid Needs Assessment is being collated
  • Don’t wait too long for joint assessment protocols and questionnaires to be developed; if necessary, go it alone
Ensure national and international NGOs input into the Flash Appeal (or equivalent)


  • Write the strategy yourself as this will reflect the strategy already agreed by the Cluster
Ensure national and international NGOs input into the Flash Appeal (or equivalent)
  • Be prepared to distil proposals into the FA format yourself and even write them yourself on behalf of a NNGO who has briefed you by phone
This is is a section from Clusterwise 2. Reproduction is encouraged. It would be nice if the author, James Shepherd-Barron, and were acknowledged when doing so.

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