Since 2015, Burkina Faso has faced a severe and multifaceted humanitarian crisis of great complexity due to the growing activities of armed groups and inter-community tensions that pose considerable security risks. The crisis is also linked to other factors such as natural disasters, the impact of climate change and related food and nutrition insecurity, and to COVID-19, which has sparked a major public health crisis. Given the needs of the affected populations in Burkina Faso, the four life-saving clusters (Food Security, Health, Nutrition and WASH) agreed to work closely together on an inter-sectoral response plan as the most effective and efficient way to meet these needs.
In 2020, the National Nutrition Cluster took the initiative in setting up an Inter-sectoral Collaboration (ISC) Working Group with Food Security, Health and WASH with the support of the GNC Helpdesk and UNICEF Regional Office in Dakar.
“We realized that we needed to unite our efforts to improve the well-being of the most vulnerable affected by the crisis in Burkina Faso. Working in silos – with each cluster focused on their own goals – was not going to have the same impact,” confirmed Claude Chigangu, Nutrition Cluster Coordinator.
Since then, the ISC Working Group has worked together on developing an effective inter-sectoral response, primarily through an inter-sectoral package of interventions delivered at the same time in the same place, to improve the humanitarian response in meeting the needs of affected populations. The GNC Helpdesk has provided technical advice and strategic direction to develop programming through an ISC lens, with regular monthly and ad hoc meetings to support work modalities with the other clusters/sectors. Technical support was also provided by the GNC Nutrition Information Systems (NIS) Helpdesk, in helping to guide the team in identifying inter-sectoral targeting in the four clusters’ convergence zones.
In addition, the GNC Helpdesk supported discussions and planning for the implementation of the inter-sectoral package of interventions agreed upon by the four clusters. This work has been informed by previous GNC ISC case studies from South Sudan and Yemen, along with examples of matrix of inter-sectoral triangulation of multi-sectoral activities, joint monitoring framework for cross-sectoral indicators and inter-sectoral action plans.
Thanks to the efforts of the ISC Working Group, an inter-sectoral package of interventions is now in place in Burkina Faso, with multiple activities from each sector conducted in the same geographic areas and at same time, at household, community and health facility level (a detailed case study is being conducted). Furthermore, the ISC approach has also led to the development of multi-sectoral projects during the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) process. A total of 5 out of 21 projects that have been validated are multi-sectoral.
The ISC process and the four clusters working together has faced some challenges, not least with the switch from face-to-face discussions to online meetings due to COVID-19. The additional workload for all the clusters during the pandemic has also had an impact on the time and space available for the discussions and development of the ISC approach and inter-sectoral package of interventions.
Next steps are to document the ISC experience in Burkina Faso through the publication of a case study. This work is already underway, with support from the GNC Helpdesk to the country team in their efforts to capture the four clusters’ ISC approach. The case study will be available by the end of 2021.
PHOTO CREDIT: UNICEF/2021/Dejongh