Coordination between Conflict Organizations

Jock Baker

Senior Advisor in the Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance Unit of CARE

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Q: Jock Baker, who do you work for, and what do you do?

A: I work for CARE based in Atlanta, and I am the senior advisor for Assessment Design Monitoring Evaluation in the Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance Unit.

Q: That is a mouthful. We were talking yesterday about complementarity, the need for organizations to meet. Someone mentioned coordination. Someone else mentioned that they thought coordination was too directive and you suggested two other models for people to collaborate or coordinate without being coordinated. Can you talk about those examples?

A: I think one was sort of a coordination model but that was by an agency who has a coordination mandate, which is a UN development program. They recently set up a crisis prevention and recovery unit, which has facilitated a number of workshops, which lead as an interagency effort. It leads the agencies through a process of constructing conflict data analysis so that they end up with a common framework and then they break up those agencies in using that common framework. They review their programs and policies and things like that to make them more conflict sensitive and more effective. That is one model. 

The other one was more of a facilitation model, that is where CARE recruited a policy advisor for its Afghanistan project but soon after his arrival we found that it was much more effective if he was within the coalition which is offered by the consortium there, ACBAR. He was basically a facilitator for the policy and advocacy work that was done by the members of that NGO consortium. It wasn't so much that he was coordinating, but he was the profile of the person with skills. He knew how to do it and he knew how to act as a resource person for NGOs that didn't have that and to use that resource in a common fashion.

Q: So it wasn't an institutionalized practice, it was just more of a matter of magnetic personality with a lot of skills?

A: Yes. It was also dictated by the system, there was a lot of frustration amongst the NGOs; they felt like their voice wasn't being heard so this was a way of doing that. I think it is certainly replicable.

Q: Tell me why that kind of facilitation or that kind of project is useful to someone on the ground in Afghanistan, for example?

A: It lowers frustration levels because you feel like your voice is getting heard and it also kind of levels expectations because a lot of advocacy work would be undermined if different NGOs were giving different messages. If they have this forum where they can debate and agree on issues, and actually it is information sharing. A lot of the advocacy messages are different because the information is different in terms of what people have received. If you can pool that information then you get a much more effective advocacy policy. He is good at his job but I don't think it is necessarily only him. It is a question of having somebody with that policy analysis skill, but it is also coupled with facilitation and good humor, he is a nice guy.

Q: Were some of those organizations who came to talk in competition at all? What about issues of people replicating efforts, but not wanting to talk about it because they are in competition?

A: There is always a certain amount of competition in there because there is a limited pool of funds particularly in emergency it attracts a lot of organizations, big and small. There is always a bit of competition but not all the NGOs were part of that consortium, but there is definitely an attraction to being part of the consortium because that is where the information is. It is a way of improving your outreach. It became part of the resources for the ACBAR. Not only was advocacy approved but also the of standing of the consortium was improved. This action was mutually supported.

Q: Thanks.