The effectiveness of humanitarian response efforts has long been hampered by a lack of coordination among responding organizations. The need for increased coordination and collaboration, as well as the need to better understand experiences with coordination, were recognized by participants of a multilateral Working Group convened to examine the challenges of coordination in humanitarian health responses. This preliminary study is an interim report of an ongoing survey designed by the Working Group to describe the experiences of coordination and collaboration in greater detail, including factors that promote or discourage coordination and lessons learned, and to determine whether there is support for a new consortium dedicated to coordination. To date, 30 key informants have participated in 25-minute structured interviews that were recorded and analyzed for major themes. Participants represented 21 different agencies and organizations: nine non-governmental organizations, eight academic institutions, two donor organizations, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
Common themes that emerged included the role of donors in promoting coordination, the need to build an evidence base, the frequent occurrence of field-level coordination, and the need to build new partnerships. Currently, there is no consensus that a new consortium would be helpful.
Addressing the underlying structural and professional factors that currently discourage coordination may be a more effective method for enhancing coordination during humanitarian responses.