9.2 The Humanitarian Programme Cycle – Key Phases
  • 15 Dec 2023
  • 3 Minutes to read
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9.2 The Humanitarian Programme Cycle – Key Phases

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Article summary

The process that organizes the response to humanitarian emergencies is the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC). The HPC was part of the Transformative Agenda protocols (see 1.2.6 for details), which introduced the use of common tools to manage each phase of a humanitarian response, from needs assessments to reporting. The aim was to ensure:

  • Stronger emphasis on the needs of affected people;
  • Improved targeting of the most vulnerable;
  • Increased funding for humanitarian priorities; and
  • Greater accountability of humanitarian actors and donors for collective results.

The Key Phases: The HPC is a coordinated series of actions undertaken to help improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The HPC consists of five different phases coordinated in a seamless manner, with one step logically building on the previous and leading to the next: 

  1. Needs Assessment and Analysis  
  2. Strategic Response Planning
  3. Advocacy and Resource Mobilisation 
  4. Implementation and Monitoring
  5. Operational review and Evaluation

See HumanitarianResponse.info for information on the above phases of the HPC but note that content may shift to ReliefWeb during 2023  

Coordination and Information Management are seen as the ‘two key enablers’ of the HPC process. In addition, emergency response preparedness should be present throughout the cycle. This in volves anticipating emergencies that are likely to occur and putting in place key components of the response in advance. See details on the role of the Coordinator in preparedness in 5.8.

Who is Involved? The HPC is an inter-agency process, led by the RC/HC, managed by the HCT and supported by the ICCG (with OCHA doing the “leg work”). It should be a collective, consultative process and aims to be inclusive of a broad range of actors, including at the sub-national levels, and aims to work in support of the national authorities and with the participation of the people affected by the crisis.

General Considerations for the FSC Coordinator:

  • Flexibility to Adapt: There is no “one size fits all” approach to the application of the HPC. Although the elements and phases of the HPC cannot be skipped, the depth of work under each step and timeline can be adapted at country level. As such the steps are not always linear but may overlap, nor will every country follow exactly the same timeline. What is described and recommended in this chapter is indicative and it is assumed that each country operation (and FSC) may adapt the approach to fit their context.
  • An Enhanced HPC Approach: Starting from the 2020 cycle, the HPC has aimed to deliver a more evidence based, cross-sectoral humanitarian response (which for example saw the introduction of the Joint Inter-Sectoral Analysis Framework or JIAF see 9.4.1). See more on the enhanced HPC approach here.  At country level, at the After-Action Reviews (AAR) the ICCG discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the process after the completion of the HRP . This is an important component of the enhanced HPC as they help HCTs to improve the process for the coming year. They also inform any potential modifications to the HPC guidance and templates as well as capacity building and training related to the HPC (see Annex II and here).

Guidance and Resources: 

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