Myanmar Cyclone Nargis Response.
NGO Liaison Officer
Terms of Reference
15 June 2008
The NGO Liaison Officer (LO) is a support function that is meant to add value to the work of the UN and NGOs – local,
national, and international, including community based organisations. The role is meant to make the work of NGOs easier and not to add further meetings to their schedules. The role should be adapted in a manner that ensures duplication does not occur with other existing functions or positions, particularly agency-specific staff and systems being developed by NGOs themselves. The NGO LO should ensure linkages with existing mechanisms, including outside of the country.
1The position will be supervised by a steering committee of in-country representation of ICVA members (Save the Children,
World Vision, Action Aid, IFRC, Oxfam GB, Merlin, Médecins du Monde, and CARE). The position will also advise the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and directly, or in-directly through the HC or other NGO representative, the Tripartite Core Group (ASEAN, GoUM, UN) that has been established to coordinate the response.
While these terms of reference (ToRs) are initially for one person, they should not preclude the option of additional human resources in future, should it be felt that the function requires further support.
Much of the work is already being done in-country by MIMU (Myanmar Information Management Unit set up by the IASC) or the LRC (Local Resource Centre). The role of the NGO LO would be to work closely with these two entities to facilitate their work.
1. Relations between International NGOs, National NGOs and the UN
Evaluation reports of the response to the South-east Asian Tsunami have pointed to the way national and local NGOs were overrun or side-stepped by international organisations, including international NGOs. This time, international NGOs have the opportunity to support and work through local organisations. The Liaison Officer should promote the role of local NGOs, help to forge links between international NGOs and local organisations, and support partnerships that uphold the Principles of
What this means in country:
; Facilitate discussion among stakeholders, allowing them to raise concerns and suggestions on how to
improve coordination, representation, decision-making, resource allocation, and participation both at
central (Yangon) and decentralized (township) levels. There will be a particular emphasis on feedback from, and
participation of, local civil society groups in various decision-making forums, including the clusters. These groups,
due to various constraints (language, human resources, location, and inexperience with international methods of
coordination) have to date experienced obstacles to participating fully in the cluster approach. The role of the NGO
Liaison Officer includes facilitating the INGO forum for as long as the incumbent (Kerren Hedlund) is the NGO LO.
; Support to any NGO representation in the Tripartite Core Group either directly or indirectly through the HC (at
present being decided by the HC/IASC how this will be done in practice).
2. Facilitation of Communications and Information Exchange
In every emergency situation, there are a range of different meetings, especially with the cluster system in place. Communications, information management, and timely circulation of meeting announcements and meeting minutes to NGOs are basic tasks, but essential if coordination is to function effectively. The NGO LO will assist in the compilation of a WHO is
doing WHAT and WHERE to contribute to gap-filling and to avoid overlap in any humanitarian response, taking into consideration the realities on the ground.
In country, what this means is: 2; Ensure two-way information exchange with the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU), the clusters (in
coordination with the NGO focal point in each cluster), and the HC’s office.
1 International Council of Voluntary Agencies 2 MIMU, reporting to the IASC, is tasked with information management, keeping up to date the Who What Where and producing regular products of use for decision making regarding the humanitarian response.
; Contributing to MIMU product development through stakeholder consultation, conceptual and technical
backstopping. In the short term, this may include support to the multi-agency multi-sectoral rapid assessment.
; Focal point for information on issues specific to NGOs such as government authorisation and registration,
however it will be the UN’s role to raise the issues with the Tripartite Core Group, which has been mandated to deal
with this issue. As the process for this is very unclear at present, it will begin by collecting all the information of
various strategies being tried by different NGOs with varying success and communicating this back to stakeholders.
3. Humanitarian Principles
In emphasising, the humanitarian nature of the mission of NGOs, the NGO LO will promote the use of the Code of Conduct
for the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief.
In country what this means is:
; Ensuring the Code’s and other relevant materials’ availability, circulation using a range of media/mediums,
translation into local languages, and ‘popularisation’ (translating the principles into a language that can be readily
understood by a broad range of Myanmar civil society actors, e.g. individual ‘well wishers’, self-help groups,
community based organisations, private sector, and government).
4. Quality and Accountability
Many evaluation reports of humanitarian action in major crises have pointed to the need to strengthen the accountability of humanitarian organisations vis-à-vis the affected population. NGOs have made good progress in developing quality and accountability standards. Evidence-based programming through participation and continuous consultation with the affected population are critical to the success of humanitarian action.
What this means in-country:
; Ensuring that basic documents on accountability are available, e.g. SPHERE standards, the Humanitarian
Accountability Partnership-International (HAP) accountability standard, Principles of Partnership, INEE Minimum
Standards and Good Enough Guide, etc. and are translated, as appropriate, into local languages.
; Establishing and facilitating an active and effective multi-agency (UN, INGOs and MNGOs and GOs)
Accountability and Learning Working Group tasked with promoting organisational and institutional ‘good
practice’ on Accountability and Learning across the Nargis response. The ALWG will focus primarily on
strengthening systems of downward accountability (i.e. to the target group) and supporting rapid and accessible
learning opportunities from field realities to allow evidence-based programming.
; Where possible/appropriate, working with stakeholders to develop cross-agency mechanisms of learning and
accountability including working with 1) MIMU on monitoring the quantity, type and targeting of humanitarian
assistance and 2) civil society to monitor the accountability measures (transparency, complaints, feedback,
participation, etc.) being implemented by agencies in the field.
; Working closely with the LRC, which is developing tools, training materials and other technical support to local civil
society organizations, and mainstreaming accountability through their work.
; Working closely with representatives of the Sphere Project and HAP in-country, and ensuring regular
communication with them when they are not in-country.
Location of the Position
The NGO LO will be placed part-time with the Local Resource Centre, so as to allow independence and easy access for NGOs to the NGO LO, and part-time in the MIMU/Response Coordination Team’s office.
ICVA has a fund to facilitate the start-up of NGO coordination in emergencies, which will be allocated to this position towards
an initial three months of NGO coordination in the cyclone response, during which time, longer-term funds could be sought.