As illustrated by ‘the camp management house', (see image below) camp management coordinates assistance and protection in all kinds of communal displacement settings, meeting the needs and protecting the rights of those who are displaced. Camp management activities and approaches are based on national and international laws and standards and the involvement of the displaced people.
‘Camp coordination and camp management' (CCCM) is the name given to standardised coordination mechanisms that refugee operations apply through the Refugee Coordination Model and IDP operations apply through the CCCM Cluster. CCCM mechanisms ensure that services are delivered efficiently and that displaced people are protected in all types of communal displacement settings in rural or urban environments; whether they live in planned camps, spontaneous self-settled informal sites, collective centres, reception centres or transit centres. In recent years, CCCM has also worked with displaced populations living with host families and in remote communities.
Some national authorities dislike the term ‘camp', which is sometimes replaced by ‘site' or ‘settlement'. ‘Collective centers' are defined as pre-existing buildings and structures used by displaced populations in the event of a conflict or natural disaster.
In common with the wider humanitarian community, UNHCR does not promote the creation of camps. Recognizing that displaced people have specific needs, UNHCR considers camps to be temporary solutions of last resort. CCCM supports other sectors in seeking durable solutions while trying in the interim to efficiently and effectively uphold standards and the rights and dignity of displaced populations.
The standard CCCM model foresees three coordination roles plus a community governance structure that represents those who have been displaced. Each role has specific responsibilities. To avoid confusion and gaps, it is vital to agree and clearly distinguish the responsibilities of particular actors. The three main roles are:
Camp Administration (CA). This role refers to the functions carried out by State authorities responsible for providing protection and assistance to displaced persons on their territories. It relates to the oversight and supervision of activities, including security. State responsibilities are non-transferable. The CA is usually represented at camp level.
Camp Coordination (CC). UNHCR usually assumes this role in refugee emergencies and complex, conflict-related IDP emergencies, and it includes both strategic and operational coordination. A CC is responsible for designing strategy, setting standards, contingency planning, and information management. Its primary objective is to create the humanitarian space necessary for the effective delivery of protection and assistance to displaced people. To develop exit strategies and more durable solutions, it liaises closely with local actors, including civil society organisations. The CC is functioning at inter-camp level.
Camp Management (CM). An NGO partner or a national or local authority usually fills this function. Where capacity is limited, UNHCR may support a CM or take on the role itself. A CM coordinates and monitors the delivery of, and access to, services and protection to displaced people, and ensures maintenance of infrastructure. It is also responsible for community participation by setting up representative committees. These enable the displaced communities to exercise their right to participate in decision-making and to influence the design and delivery of humanitarian programmes at all stages. Prevention and response to GBV is crosscutting through all phases of camp management. CM operates at camp level.
The main roles and functions of the CCCM can vary according to the institution that is responsible and the circumstances in which it operates. What matters is to cover all CCCM functions, making sure that the needs of displaced people are met and that there are no gaps or overlaps in responsibility or response. When engaging outside camps it is crucial to work closely with and support existing and functional local structures in relation to information, communication, coordination and monitoring of services to the displaced populations. For a more detailed description of community participation and roles and responsibilities in CCCM, and of approaches outside of camp, see the Camp Management Toolkit (2015), the UNHCR's Collective Centre Guidelines (2010),and Urban Displacement & Outside of Camp (UDOC Desk Review 2014).
CCCM supports the following protection objectives:
- To promote a rights- based approach, Coordinated interventions should enable displaced persons to realise their rights.
- To establish a community-based approach. Community governance structures and participatory mechanisms should ensure that women, men, boys and girls of all ages and diversities, including LGBTI individuals, persons living with disabilities, persons living with HIV/AIDS, and persons from different ethnic and religious groups, can contribute to their own protection.
- To promote non-discrimination. CCCM promotes full and equal respect for the rights of all persons, recognising that individuals may have particular needs and face particular inequalities and risks.
In an emergency, the CCCM ultimately makes rapid steps towards realising the right of all displaced individuals and communities to participate in society and enjoy life with dignity.
Underlying principles and standards
CCCM practices should:
- Be cross-sectoral. CCCM is inherently cross-sectoral. It should work in close partnership with other actors and organisations.
- Observe humanitarian principles. The principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence must guide all interventions.
- Do no harm. All CCCM interventions should be monitored and evaluated to ensure that they do not cause harm to displaced populations or host communities.
- Be accountable to affected populations (AAP). In all its activities, a camp management agency must demonstrate accountability in its activities to displaced persons and communities, as well as to other stakeholders or communities, including service providers, the camp administration, donors and security providers.
- Respect principles of partnership. A results-based approach that promotes equality, transparency, responsibility and complementarity is essential, both to sustain trust and ensure that humanitarian partnerships serve the needs of displaced persons effectively.
- Seek durable solutions. From the start, interventions and assistance should be linked to strategies to achieve early recovery and durable solutions.
The following key standards need to be observed and monitored during emergency interventions:
- Sector specific standards (for shelter, education, WASH, distribution, etc.), as set out in UNHCR's Digital Emergency Handbook.
- Sphere standards set out in The Sphere Project, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response. These standards have been collectively agreed by the broader humanitarian community, and include indicators that quantify the minimum standards required to enjoy the right to life with dignity.
- The Minimum Standards for Camp Management, 2021 Edition.
- Minimum standards for child protection, set out in the Child Protection Working Group's Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (2012).
More specific checklists and guidelines:
- IOM, NRC, UNHCR, Camp Management Toolkit (2015).
- Global CCCM Cluster, Collective Centre Guidelines (2010).
- Global CCCM Cluster, Desk Review - Urban Displacement & Outside of Camps (2014).
- Camp Coordination and Management Gender Checklist, in IASC, Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action (2019).
- IASC, Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (2019).
- Global CCCM Cluster, Camp Closure Guidelines (2014).
- Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards, LEGS Handbook (2014).
Displaced people face numerous protection risks. Further, specific groups and individuals are often at additional risk because they have been traumatised or because their social structures and coping mechanisms have been damaged. Below is an incomplete list of the protection risks that displaced populations commonly face:
- Attacks on civilians by parties to a conflict. This risk is particularly pronounced when displaced communities are located close to borders or are believed to harbour parties to a conflict.
- Presence of armed elements. Arms may be hidden in shelters and other locations. Armed groups may exploit displaced persons, use their living areas, or recruit children.
- Unsafe buildings. As a result of earthquakes, flooding or shelling, buildings may become dangerous to inhabit. Their layout or overcrowding may create risks to health or facilitate abuse (poor ventilation, fire risks, unlighted cellars, etc.).
- Topography. The topography of a camp or communal setting, and its surrounding area, may deter social interaction, pose risks to health, or facilitate abuse and violence.
- Conflicts with host community. This is a common problem when displaced persons consume shared resources, are perceived to enjoy a better standard of living, or do not participate in community dialogues. Environmental degradation and poor waste disposal practices may also cause tension.
- Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The incidence of sexual and domestic violence is often aggravated by overcrowding, the presence of alcohol or narcotics, lack of economic opportunities, or poor access to basic resources, such as cooking fuel.
- Abuse, neglect and exploitation of children is common after family separation and where social support mechanisms, including school, have broken down.
- Crime. Theft, violence and other forms of crime and social disturbance are likely to increase where law enforcement is inadequate and judicial remedies are unavailable or ineffective.
- Inability to register births and deaths. Displaced persons may be unable to obtain birth and death certificates if the local authority requests fees to deliver them or is located far from their living areas.
- Unrepresentative participation. Unless affirmative action measures are put in place, ‘winner takes all' elections may prevent minorities, marginalised and stigmatised groups from expressing their views. In some settings, domestic or childcare responsibilities may prevent women from standing for election or committee positions, despite being entitled to do so.
- Crowding and high density occupation deprive people of privacy and can undermine social cohesion and generate communal tension. Age, gender (including LGBTI) and diversity (including persons living with disabilities) should be taken into account when identifying persons who may be particularly affected.
- Discrimination in access to basic provisions and services. Persons of concern, especially persons with specific needs and disabilities, and marginalised and stigmatised groups, may be excluded from access to water, food, shelter, community participation or health services.
- Eviction from buildings and sites. Displaced persons are always at risk of eviction. Causes include security concerns, changes of use, sale or disposal of property, etc.
- Seasonal variations and other natural hazards generate a range of risks. Latrines and shelters may be damaged or flooded if fluctuations in rainfall were calculated inaccurately when a camp was constructed. Spontaneous sites may lack a camp management coordinating body to highlight and address issues that threaten its viability.
- Fire is a serious risk in crowded and spontaneous sites, but also in planned camps where construction is not well-regulated and firebreaks are not maintained.
- Erosion and environmental degradation. Deforestation and poorly-maintained drainage and waste disposal systems can cause serious environmental degradation, harm health, create safety risks, or spark conflict with host communities.
- Variable access to services. Differences in the services available can attract people to areas where many displaced people already live. This can cause tensions with humanitarian actors.
For more information on the protection risks of displaced persons and communities, and how camp managers can prevent, minimize and respond to them, see Camp Management Toolkit (2015) and Collective Centre Guidelines (2010).
Key decision points
Where displaced populations are not located in formal camps (or the creation of formal camps is not planned or desired) but numbers are rising quickly and occupation of unused public or abandoned buildings (such as schools or churches) becomes common, CCCM staff should consult the CCCM Unit at headquarters (and in IDP situations also the Global CCCM Cluster). They should also consult when many people are being accommodated by host families, because any steady decline in resilience, depletion of resources or reduction in access to basic services is likely to lead to the creation of informal settlements. Even if sites are considered unviable and lack services, displaced populations may refuse to leave them because they have safety or other concerns. In such circumstances and until a better alternative can be found, the CCCM should at the least set up communications, provide information, monitor basic conditions, and share its information with other sectors.
Should the CCCM Cluster be activated? In IDP contexts, it is important to decide unambiguously whether to activate the CCCM cluster. Past experience indicates that it is better to activate the CCCM cluster early, even if it is subsequently deactivated. For more information on cluster activation, see IASC Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at the Country Level (2015) and the Entry on ‘Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster'.
The contingency plan should clearly state who will take specific responsibilities in relation to camp management and coordination in camps, sites and centres, and should identify a trigger or threshold that will activate these roles. It should also indicate the actions that will be taken if the situation changes suddenly, as a result of natural hazards (fire, flood, etc.), new population movements, evictions from sites or collective centres, forced or abrupt closure of camps, etc.
Deviations from standard roles and responsibilities. Deviations with respect to camp administration, coordination and management should be clearly documented, because they can become a source of contention. Ensure that staff and partners understand CCCM roles and responsibilities.
1. At the start of a new emergency, address three key questions: What value can the CCCM add to efforts to protect and assist the population that has been displaced? Will the CCCM operate in traditional camps only, and/or in sites and collective centres, and/or work with displaced people living with host families? Will the CCCM adopt a sector-based or an area-based approach? Refugees and internally displaced persons settle in a wide variety of ways. They reside in camps, sites and settlements, are dispersed in urban and rural areas, occupy collective centres, and live with host families. CCCM should coordinate its work with the wider humanitarian community and evaluate where its activities, tools and methodologies can be applied to increase the access of displaced people to information, protection and services. To this end, CCCM may practice ‘area-based approaches': In area-based programming, CCCM activities are implemented in an area and target all the persons and displacement sites in that area as if it were one large camp. The teams focus on multi-sectoral needs and localisation; support existing coordination and governance structures. Area-based coordination is an operational alternative to clusters (or other sector-based coordination structures) and is most appropriate at sub-national level. For all other sectors/clusters, area-based coordination is something that would be led by the agency/actor (UN or NGO or local government) – except it's in fact a function that camp management agencies are already doing by coordinating all sectorial interventions in a given area/camp. For more on area-based approaches, see CCCM Cluster, IOM and UNHCR, CCCM Paper on Area-based Approaches – Position Paper (October 2020).
2. Contribute to site assessment and identification and to planning. When it is decided to establish a camp or use buildings, camp managers who have experience of long-term camp care and site maintenance should be involved in the identification, assessment and planning of sites and buildings. Their design, layout and structure should address protection concerns. It is vital to liaise with displaced communities in order to understand their concerns and preferences.
3. Opt for mobile teams and/or remote management. An increasing number of informal settlements and spontaneous sites are located in areas that are remote or used to be off-limits. Long distances or security threats can raise logistical and security concerns for humanitarian agencies. Permanent and direct management can also be difficult to deliver on such sites. Regardless of whether it adopts an area-based approach or manages activities in a single site, CCCM must decide whether to work through mobile teams that visit sites regularly (without having a permanent presence) and/or manage them remotely through partner organizations.
4. Coordinate and monitor service provision and protection. Identify the basic and individual needs of the population that has been displaced. Consider gaps and duplications in service provision and protection. Take steps to prevent and respond to SGBV. To achieve minimum standards, encourage partners and sectors to make appropriate changes in practice.
5. Set local standards. The aim is to achieve Sphere and UNHCR standards, as well as the draft Minimum Standards in Camp Management. If resources and capacity are constrained, CCCM may need initially to set interim targets. Standardise such targets as soon as possible, to provide predictability and limit possible sources of conflict.
6. Establish governance and participatory structures. As soon as possible create a body to represent the displaced population and liaise with humanitarian actors. To do so, review existing participatory structures, support those that are most relevant, and set up new ones to fill gaps. Representation should reflect age, gender and diversity. Include youth, women, elders, LGBTI individuals, and persons living with disabilities, persons who have different ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and religion. Include representatives from host communities and local authorities where appropriate. For more information on how to assess, support and establish participatory structures, see Camp Management Toolkit (2015).
7. Protect through presence. The presence of CM in camps, sites and centres helps to protect displaced persons. Regular interaction, informal dialogues, and noting and following up of issues may improve displaced persons' general feeling of safety and can reveal challenges and concerns that more formal mechanisms may not identify.
8. Information management. With information management (IM) colleagues, develop a centralized IM system. Disseminate IM products regularly. In the initial stages of an emergency, you can communicate information much more coherently if messages are harmonized, across camps and centres, outside camps, and to all partners.
9. Set up feedback and complaint mechanisms. Establish predictable two-way communication systems with displaced populations and the broader humanitarian community. This will also improve accountability to those who are displaced.
10. Monitor cross-cutting issues. Monitor gender equity, environmental impacts, and other cross-cutting issues, such as community participation, the need to increase resilience and self-reliance, in all programmes and services. Ensure cross-cutting issues are taken into account.
11. Develop CCCM capacity. At the start of a new emergency, humanitarian partners, government officials and persons of concern may have a limited understanding of CCCM roles, responsibilities, activities, tools and methodologies. It is therefore essential to provide capacity development during the preparedness phase or at the start of an emergency. CCCM training creates opportunities for dialogue and can help to establish and codify roles and responsibilities, common goals, strategies and action plans.
12. Develop a comprehensive strategy. CM, CC and CA should be involved in the development of an overall strategy as well as specific strategies for individual camps, sites or centres. Strategies should identify key strategic objectives; operational activities; alternative sources of accommodation (following the return of private and public buildings such as schools and offices to their normal purposes); advocacy for durable solutions; and provisional proposals for camp closure, an exit strategy and timely handover of CCCM activities.In refugee contexts, strategies should explain how they will contribute to specific components of the UNHCR-led refugee response strategy. In IDP operations, strategies should set out a specific CCCM cluster strategy and response plans that align with the country's strategic response plan.
Key management considerations
If emergency responses are to be effective and efficient, CCCM mechanisms need to be planned, established and budgeted as early as possible. Where the country operation lacks expertise, seek assistance from the CCCM Unit/DRS (Division of resilience and Solution) at headquarter. Help can be provided through a rapid response mechanism and/or capacity development. This is particularly important when activation of a CCCM Cluster is considered in the context of an IDP crisis. CCCM roles and responsibilities need to be discussed and clearly set out in writing, especially when they deviate from the standard CCCM framework. As early as possible, identify and train NGOs and national authorities that are potential camp management partners, ideally during contingency planning.
Resources and partnerships
- Staff. The need for CCCM staff will vary considerably, according to the context, the complexity and scale of the emergency, and resources. It is essential to agree and appoint clearly identified focal points for each specific CCCM function, and to define their responsibilities. On CC/inter-camp level, one individual should be responsible for overall camp coordination, supported by a deputy, a CCCM capacity development officer, an information management (IM) officer, and national field officers. In IDP contexts, particularly in Level 3 (L3) emergencies, a full-time CCCM cluster coordinator should be appointed, supported by a full-time technical officer and full-time IM officer. All staff should be familiar with CCCM concepts and methodologies, or should participate in a CCCM training as soon as possible.
- Partners. Successful CCCM operations require capable and knowledgeable partners and government counterparts. Ideally they should be trained and prepared before an emergency occurs. UNHCR may agree to fund camp management partners. Camp management is often most effective when paired with other dimensions of service delivery (distribution, shelter, etc.).
- Material resources. Offices, meeting rooms, furnishings and supplies, vehicles, and communication equipment are the basic material requirements of camp management. Warehouse space, a tool bank, maintenance supplies, and firefighting equipment are also required. IT equipment (including computers, printers and internet capacity) are necessary to support partners and national authorities.
- Financial resources. Adequate financial resources are essential. The following elements should be taken into consideration:
- UNHCR staff for inter-camp coordination. As noted above.
- Camp management implementing partners. In some cases, staff or resources may be needed to assist national authorities to fulfil their camp administration functions.
- Care and maintenance. This includes minor repairs, environmental protection, garbage disposal, firefighting, tool banks, and other aspects of emergency care and maintenance. These resources may be components of the camp budget or dispersed centrally; but flexibility should be built in to deal with unforeseen challenges.
- Camp committees. Camp committees may receive financial support (under the supervision of camp managers) to enable them to identify, design and implement small-scale sectoral projects for persons of concern and host communities.
- Camp, site and centre closure. Resources should be earmarked for closure and rehabilitation, so that sites and buildings can be returned to their original state.
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