Numerous challenges in information management arise during a major disaster or conflict. An example of such a challenge is the accuracy of data collection for recording damage to housing, infrastructure, and services or tracking displaced populations, distributing massive influx of humanitarian supplies, and coordinating the work in and between clusters as well as dozens of agencies outside the cluster approach. Baseline and post disaster information is collected and controlled by many autonomous actors, including national authorities, many of whom may be working together for the first time. Developing and implementing a basic framework that improve the interoperability of data collected before, during and after an emergency are essential to building better response capacities.
These guidelines outline the common datasets needed to respond to humanitarian emergencies, as well as the governance model for the management of the data (i.e. accountabilities and responsibilities). Key terms are defined to gain an understanding of the guidelines, including technical standards that support data quality and interoperability.
The guidance is intended for use at the country level to help Cluster/Sector leads, OCHA and humanitarian partners to ensure that relevant information in a humanitarian emergency is provided to the right person at the right time. It is also to ensure that the information is presented in a useful format to facilitate situational understanding and decision-making.
The product presents who is responsible for information management in emergencies. It further describes how information management supports effective humanitarian response, and provides the information management responsibilities of OCHA and Cluster/Sector leads at country level. The product includes the role of the Information Management Network at country level, such as what is expected of Cluster/Sector partners at the country level, the role of Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC), how information management can support needs assessment activities and monitoring, and the principles of humanitarian information management and exchange in emergencies.
In 2011, the definition of Provider of Last Resort (POLR) was modified to become “Where necessary, and depending on access, security and availability of funding, the cluster lead, as POLR, must be ready to ensure the provision of services required to fulfil critical gaps identified by the cluster and reflected in the HC‐led HCT Strategic Response Plan.”