The Cluster System

A UN review  of the global humanitarian system was conducted in 2005 and highlighted a number of gaps in humanitarian response. It recommended that the humanitarian coordinator system be strengthened; that a central emergency response fund be set up to provide timely, adequate and flexible funding; and that UN agencies and partners adopt a ‘lead organization concept’ to cover critical gaps in providing protection and assistance to those affected by conflict or natural disasters. In response to this last recommendation, the UN’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) established nine ‘clusters’ in 2005. This consisted of groupings of UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other international organizations around a sector or service provided during a humanitarian crisis. Each of the nine clusters (Protection, Camp Coordination and Management, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Health, Emergency Shelter, Nutrition, Emergency Telecommunications, Logistics, and Early Recovery) is led by a designated agency. Two additional clusters, Education and Agriculture, were later added.


The cluster system was officially rolled-out in Timor-Leste on 31 March 2009 with the formation of 11 clusters, reflecting the global humanitarian structure and lead by both non-governmental organizations as well as UN agencies. The clusters are particularly focusing on recovery activities in support of the National Recovery Strategy  and assisting the Government towards natural disaster preparedness, emergency response and contingency planning.


The humanitarian and early recovery community meets regularly under the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG).


For more information on the Clusters, including Cluster-specific documents and information, please visit:

The Clusters in Timor-Leste.