Usually you hear the word "cluster" and think someone must be reading a cereal box. Well, I've been hearing it a lot more since I started working on Haiti reconstruction. For the longest time there seemed to be these clandestine organizations discussing recovery efforts. My Regional Program Manager and Brother From Another Mother Eric Cesal would have to go to Shelter Cluster meetings while the Education Cluster somehow distributed an entire revised curriculum for schools restarting on April 6th. But WHO could organize such things?! No, not the World Health Organization, but (well, duh) the United Nations.
The UN Cluster model was launched in 2005, following an assessment of their ability to respond to humanitarian crises. The verdict was that there was some amount of disorganization in their responses, including some worrisome gaps. Clusters were developed to assign specific responsibilities and close the gaps on large recovery efforts. Eleven clusters now coordinate between the UN, NGO's and other organizations all the work going on right now in Haiti–Protection, Camp Coordination and Management, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Health, Emergency Shelter, Nutrition, Emergency Telecommunications, Logistics, and Early Recovery, and, added later, Education and Agriculture (pretty significant things to overlook!).
The photo above was taken by Mr. Cesal at an Early Recovery Cluster meeting the other day. He says the meetings are long and boring and that he's constantly looking for excuses not to go. But Clusters are important. As frustrating as they can be sometimes, Clusters are leading the overall recovery effort in Haiti.
Photo by Eric Cesal