Webinar: Prioritisation in humanitarian operations: How to prioritize when everything is a priority?

Date Published: July 17, 2015

The panelists unpacked some of the different ways that prioritization has been done, shared good practices from the field and looked at what an ideal model of prioritization might look like. While the session did not focus specifically on protection, several of the panelists addressed some important considerations which have a bearing on results-based protection:

  • Distinguishing between boundary-setting and establishing priorities within a strategic plan
    • Set boundaries – determine what is included in the collective response plan; define what needs to be done to achieve agreed objectives/outcomes
    • Set prioritization criteria – flexibility in how criteria is determined but should be context-specific, through an objective and transparent process, and reviewed and prioritized as required
  • Reconfirming the international standard of support – (for protection, relevant standards include norms that need to be fulfilled to reduce risk including national law, international humanitarian law, human rights law, and refugee law, as well as protective social, cultural, and religious norms)
  • Sequencing to to determine what should be included in a first or second line versus a full response; recognizing that sequencing may not be a reflection of prioritization but rather the sequence of events necessary to address those priorities
  • Innovative processes of peer review to challenge and push for prioritization, including the minimum standards, minimum activities, and sequencing
  • When donors prioritize specific issues (e.g. women and girls, economic empowerment, or resilience) how does this impact needs-based prioritization of the humanitarian response?
  • How can the flexibility of some donors, for example, DFID’s flexibility in funding from humanitarian and/or development accounts, create opportunities for a flexible approach to protection programming?
  • Start with the affected population and involve them directly in the process to identify criteria for prioritization. Recognize the contribution necessary by different actors, including national and host governments. Engagement of the government to the extent possible helps to responsibilize actions of the government and promote ownership and sustainability.
  • Monitoring should include regularly assessing the priorities set within the strategic plan to determine their continued relevance and level of significance within the humanitarian response.
  • In contexts where there is limited data to support an evidence-informed approach, need to recognize gaps and ensure an iterative process of prioritization to incorporate new data into the analysis. Use the evidence that does exist (e.g. pre-crisis data) and triangulate data to identify flaws and inconsistencies.
  • Willingness of all actors to work together towards a common vision in order to ensure that the process is credible and limits an “entitlement approach” whereby certain agencies may expect to receive priority.
    Protection is deliberately highlighted as the first priority within a strategy to convey a clear message to all sectors and actors the significance and commitment towards the Centrality of Protection.



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