Inter-Agency Coordination. Annex 1 IOM CB-MHPSS Manual

This brief but important document describes the inter-agency coordination that should happen in an emergency.  For organizations that are not IOM, the important pages are 4-5 where the tasks to be accomplished by a coordination body are listed.  Recommended in Fig, 16 is that MHPSS have a working group of organizations involved in MHPSS activities.  This working group should link to other appropriate clusters such as Health, WASH, CCCM, Education, Protection etc.  The important tasks are to coordinate information sharing, needs assessments, mailing lists, 4Ws, referral systems, minimum standards, training, advocacy campaigns, and standardizing some common indicators for M&E.  Regardless of what organizations are the chairpersons of the working group, all benefit from participation and coordination.  

Who is Doing What, Where and When (4 Ws) in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support 

The 4Ws is a system of gathering information about all of the different organizations providing some form of MHPSS services in a geographic region.  The system continues to be refined but codes the different kinds of services, the different populations served and the method to refer people.  This kind of mapping helps to locate services in a location and for different segments of the population and to expose gaps in services.  

Introduction to the cluster system

UNOCHA, 2011

This short slide show, prepared for the government of Indonesia explains in simple form how the cluster system works, who answers to who, and what the relationship is between different UN organizations, NGOs, and national governments.  The slides specific to Indonesia are only the last one or two.  Simple, clear, explains definitions.    

Facilitating Community Support Structures

REPSSI, 2010.  

This example of facilitating a community’s involvement in protection of its children is an excellent example of coordination between local community groups, a locally based NGO and the district Ministry of Health.  TPO Uganda (Transcultural Psychosocial Association) works in local communities (and among refugee groups) to provide Psychosocial Support.  By completing repeated evaluations of their program, it became clear that they would be more effective if they were to engage local, established respected groups from the community to be the first line of community outreach workers.  These trained community members provide basic information, basic level support for people at risk, and refer those that they locate who need more professional services.  TPO provides some of the higher level services and psychiatrists from the MOH for medication services. This is an excellent example of community coordination to provide multilayer services for the range of MHPSS services.

Local humanitarian action in practice – Case studies and reflections of local humanitarian actors

Kathlyn Kissy Symaylo, Humanitarian Leadership Academy, 2017. 

This document displays why we should coordinate and collaborate with local humanitarian organizations.  It shares the work of 10 local organizations from across the globe and the lessons they have learned in the HUM-Dev nexus.  The work reported upon is inspiring.  Each in its own way reported that an obstacle is the tendency of donors to only fund through INGOs, not directly to the LNGOs.  This limits their ability to use their advantage to respond in the first 24 hours.  Additional learning is described as the importance of coordination, the value of in-depth knowledge of local community culture and tradition, long term planning and so on.    

Emergency Toolkit

This toolkit is a collection of commonly used resources that help to efficiently organize and coordinate in large emergencies.  Many of the tools are IASC, some are WHO, IFRC, UNICEF, UNHCR, IOM.  All are tools that are familiar to all of us though here collected all in one place with simple descriptions.  

Inter-Agency Referral Guidance Note for MHPSS


The Inter-Agency Referral Form and the Guidance Note for its use were developed by the IASC MHPSS Working Group to facilitate coordination and collaboration between different agencies and programs. It specifies who is making the referral, who is being referred and to who the referral is going with appropriate contact information for each party.  Referrals may be made for health, protection, MHPSS services, nutrition, shelter, rehabilitation etc.   It includes the consent of the person being referred.  The guidance note reminds people to contact the receiving organization to be sure that the client is eligible and to store the form in a secure location after sending on the copies to the client and the referred organization.  This same form can be used by community organizations such as faith-based organizations to make referrals for services when the need is beyond their capacity.