Objectives and approach

The overarching objective of the Peer-2-Peer (P2P) Support Project is to strengthen the delivery of collective humanitarian assistance and protection in country operations. Towards that end, the project provides inter-agency peer support to Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) and Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs), with work focusing on three pillars: leadership, coordination and accountability to affected people.

The support ensures inclusion of the four non-negotiable areas outlined in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Standard Terms of Reference for HCTs: the Centrality of Protection, addressing gender-based violence, protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, and accountability to affected people.

The approach comprises P2P Support Missions and Operational Peer Reviews.

P2P Support Missions

P2P Support Missions are conducted at the request of the HC to the Chair of the Emergency Directors Group (EDG) of the IASC or as a result of a direct request from the EDG if the situation in the country is critical.

Peers from the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are deployed to field operations to support the HC and HCT by sharing their expertise. As such, they help the country leadership team find workable solutions to specific issues that are impacting the effectiveness of the response. Missions are tailored to the needs and context of the operation.

The P2P Team provides support in areas that HCs and HCTs have consistently identified as challenging, including: coordination, leadership, HCT accountability, security management and access, timely delivery of assistance, the link between relief and development, and localization.

A bottom-up, participatory approach promotes peer learning through dialogue and the sharing of best practices. P2P missions use a methodology combining:

  • Bilateral and small group meetings;
  • Self-assessment workshops with a wide range of constituencies;
  • HCT retreats.

Operational Peer Reviews

An Operational Peer Review (OPR) follows the same methodology as a Peer-2-Peer Support Mission. It is automatically triggered by an IASC decision to launch a Humanitarian System-Wide Scale-Up Activation. The protocol governing the Scale-Up activation mandates that an OPR take place no later than five months after the initial activation. It also notes that the OPR “provides the HC and HCT an opportunity to reflect on the direction and performance of the response” and that “its recommendations should inform the Emergency Directors, the RC/HC and HCT at the end of the activation period” (Protocol 1. Humanitarian System-Wide Scale-Up Activation: Definition and Procedures).


Mission implementation

The terms of reference for P2P Support Missions and Operational Peer Reviews are developed through consultation with the HCT and the EDG. On the basis of the terms of reference, the EDG Chair and the Director of the P2P Team identify a mission leader and ask the EDG to identify suitable candidates from their agencies to participate in the mission. The mission team members are typically at Director level and have expertise linked to the needs of the mission. The mission is comprised of an equal number of NGO and United Nations representatives, while taking into consideration gender balance and geographic diversity.

Before the mission arrives in the country, the mission team will have preparatory calls with the HC, HCT and other actors as necessary to clarify the terms of reference and agree on expectations. Upon arrival, the mission team will also undertake bilateral discussions with key stakeholders such as national and local authorities and donors as well as visit affected communities in order to understand the context, key issues and challenges.


The central element of the P2P methodology is collaborative group work.

Overall objectives:

  • To encourage participants to identify concrete gaps, strengths and issues for the humanitarian response;
  • To brainstorm around corrective actions as the backbone for the creation of an HCT Action Plan to improve the humanitarian response.

Target groups:

  • The Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG);
  • International NGOs (coordination to ensure representative international participation);
  • National NGOs (coordination to ensure representative national participation);
  • Area HCTs, subnational ICCGs and other local coordination teams;
  • The HCT as part of a dedicated retreat with an adapted methodology (see below).

Duration: Each workshop lasts three hours.

Facilitation: Members of the P2P Team facilitate the workshops and HCT retreat, including breakout sessions and plenary discussions.

Step 1: Rating exercise

Specific objective: Initiate a discussion to agree on a collective understanding of the strengths and gaps of the humanitarian response.

Methodology: The session starts with a rating exercise where participants are asked to rate their level of agreement with a series of statements (usually 25-35) on the humanitarian response using the online Mentimeter tool.

Step 2: Interactive discussion

Specific objective: Discuss openly and agree collectively on the strengths and weaknesses of the humanitarian response; the three most critical issues to be addressed as a priority to improve the humanitarian response; and realistic actions to address these issues, focusing on the capacity and resources needed to move forward.


Methodology: The participants are divided into three subgroups to unpack statements related to leadership, coordination and accountability; to identify the priority challenges that need to be addressed to improve in the three areas; and to propose realistic actions to address them. During a plenary session, the three groups work together to identify the three most critical priorities for action.


The priorities of each group and their related actions will be presented at the HCT retreat for the HCT to refine and prioritize.

Humanitarian Country Team retreat

Overall objectives:

  • To present to the HCT members an overview of the weaknesses, gaps and priorities identified by the humanitarian community in-country;
  • To build consensus within the HCT on the weaknesses and gaps of the response and identify clear priorities;
  • To develop an HCT Action Plan to respond to the weaknesses and gaps identified as priorities.

Duration: Half day (3-4 hours) directly after the HCT workshop.

Pre-retreat preparation: The mission team reviews the results of the working group and compiles the statements and associated action plans with the most positive, negative or divided results and shapes the HCT agenda around these topics.

Retreat methodology: The HCT retreat starts with an overall analysis of all the workshop findings and recommendations, then focuses on helping the HCT transform these findings into a concrete HCT Action Plan.

Facilitation: The whole mission team is present during the retreat, but each step is managed by one facilitator.

Step 1: Rating exercise

Specific objective: Initiate a discussion to agree on a common understanding of the strengths/gaps of the humanitarian response.

Methodology: The session starts with a rating exercise where the HCT members are asked their level of agreement with the statements on the humanitarian response that have been presented at the other workshops. The facilitator presents the full series of statements, and each HCT member is asked to rate the statements using the online Mentimeter application. The P2P Team quickly reviews the results and adjusts the agenda accordingly. The P2P Team shares the results of the aggregated Mentimeter surveys from the other groups, highlighting commonalities and divergences..

Step 2: Interactive discussion

Specific objectives: Discuss openly and agree collectively on the strengths and weaknesses of the humanitarian response. Promote team spirit. Identify agreements or disagreements on the issues faced by the humanitarian community.

Methodology: The participants are divided into three subgroups to unpack the results of the HCT survey and the aggregated results of the surveys from the other groups related to leadership, coordination, and accountability and performance. They identify the top three priority issues for change and the most important actions that should be taken.

Step 3: Moving to action

Specific objectives: Discuss concrete actions to move from issues to solutions. Identify realistic priorities with a focus on capacity and resources.

Methodology: The subgroups will debrief the plenary on the survey, including the comparison between the HCT and other groups, and the three priority challenges and actions proposed by the subgroup. The HCT will discuss the work of the subgroups and reach agreement on the most important priorities and the main elements of the action plan.


Mission Report and HCT Action Plan

The HCT Action Plan, which will be included in the Mission Report from the P2P Team, will be based on the outcomes of the HCT retreat, complemented by a consolidation and review of the action plans developed during all other workshops conducted during the mission and, where appropriate, additional suggested actions that did not arise during the HCT retreat and which are based on experience from other contexts and good practices.

Follow-up to Operational Peer Review/P2P Support Mission

After finalization by the P2P Team and the HCT, the Mission Report and HCT Action Plan are sent to the Chair of the EDG and the Emergency Relief Coordinator, who will share them with the IASC Principals. The HCT has the responsibility to refine the Action Plan, including the assignment of timelines and focal points to take forward its implementation. Six months after the mission, the HCT will submit to the EDG a brief implementation update.

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