CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Humanitarian Coordination and Response: International Partnerships in Face of Natural Disasters

Julia C. Wong, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Eileen Doherty-Sil

Date of this Version: 01 April 2012



In the 21st century, international humanitarian response remains encumbered by serious gaps and unpreparedness. The inefficacies stem from longstanding organizational challenges in the areas of accountability, predictability, and reliability. Humanitarian reform comprises three pillars: the cluster approach, timely financing, and strategic leadership. Cluster coordination, introduced in the 2005 Humanitarian Response Review commissioned by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, holds great significance because it calls for leadership in specific need areas and for the development of partnerships. This thesis aims to contribute to the growing body of literature on improving humanitarian processes to better meet the needs of affected populations by examining whether cluster coordination builds effective responses and whether a different actor may temporarily provide governmental services when the government is absent. The cases of Haiti and Myanmar, which illustrate different successes and challenges of the cluster approach, identify four fundamental features of disaster coordination and response. These features demonstrate that in an environment of trust and openness, strong cluster coordination can empower leadership and help leverage the full range of existing capacities, resulting in an effective response.


Political Science

Suggested Citation

Wong, Julia C., "Humanitarian Coordination and Response: International Partnerships in Face of Natural Disasters" 01 April 2012. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 05 June 2012




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