Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) Monitoring

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This page provides OCHA perspectives on monitoring and recommendations for country offices on the preparation and conduct of response monitoring of Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) or other collective humanitarian plans. Current efforts focus on response monitoring, with situation and needs monitoring elements to be strengthened in the future. 

I. Introduction and Definitions

Response Monitoring is a continuous process which tracks the humanitarian assistance delivered to affected populations compared to targets set out in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). 
The purpose of response monitoring is two-fold:

  1. It provides humanitarian actors with an evidence base for making decisions about what actions should be taken to redress shortcomings, fill gaps and/or adjust the HRP, contributing to a more effective and efficient humanitarian response, in the short and long term.
  2. It serves to improve accountability of the humanitarian community for the achievement of results under the HRP towards affected populations, local governments, donors and the general public.

Humanitarian Affairs Officers and Information Management Officers in charge of monitoring are supported by materials gathered in the monitoring package presented below, and HPC tools, notably the Response Planning Module (RPM) and the Projects Module (PM).
Field support is provided by OCHA Regional Offices and OCHA’s Assessment, Planning and Monitoring Branch (APMB) in Geneva.

II. The Monitoring Package: Materials on Response Monitoring

The inter-agency agreed 2021 HPC package includes guidance and instructions on monitoring and can be found here:

At present, there is no inter-agency agreed guidance encompassing situation, needs and response monitoring. In addition to the above documents from the HPC package, complementary guidance exists on response monitoring. Whilst some documents are inter-agency agreed other documents are tailored towards an OCHA-internal audience. 

This table provides an overview of the monitoring package and their respective status:

  Title (with Link) Format Status
1. The HRP Monitoring Plan template Annotated template
OCHA document
2. Humanitarian Response Monitoring Guidance
Inter-agency agreed
3. PowerPoint Presentations    

     3.a) Introduction to Monitoring

     3.b) How to Organize the Monitoring of the HRP

     3.c) Using Indicators

PowerPoint Presentations
PowerPoint Presentations
PowerPoint Presentations

OCHA documents
4. Humanitarian Indicator Registry and FAQs
Inter-agency agreed
5. Humanitarian Population Figures    
       5.a) Humanitarian Profile Support Guidance

     5.b) Measuring and Aggregating Population Figures for Planning and Monitoring

     5.c) CBPF: Aggregation of People Targeted 
Inter-agency agreed

OCHA documents

OCHA documents
6. Periodic Monitoring Report (PMR) Guidance and annotated template
Inter-agency agreed
7. Humanitarian Dashboard Toolkit
Inter-agency agreed
8. Monitoring in an Emergency Guidance
OCHA document

Please note that OCHA documents are not to be shared in a way which would suggest endorsement at inter-agency level.

1) The HRP Monitoring Plan template

The monitoring plan is a document prepared by the Inter-cluster coordination group (ICCG) at the beginning of the year. It summarizes what data will be collected by all humanitarian actors, how and when, where it will be stored, how it will be analyzed, and how the information gathered will be shared, at scheduled intervals or in real-time, for internal purposes (organizations, clusters, ICCG, HCT and HC) as well as external information (people affected, local government, media, general public). 
The monitoring plan is composed of 3 elements:

  • The Monitoring Framework 

This is a table that gathers all indicators attached to the strategic, specific and cluster/sector objectives.
For each indicator, the framework covers: need / baseline / target / disaggregation / source / collection methodology / frequency / who will collect it.

  • Narrative Presentation

A narrative presentation explains how monitoring will be conducted over the duration of the HRP. It includes data collection methods, what tools will be used, the resources required, distribution of responsibilities, how the analysis will be conducted, information sharing channels, potential issues such as resources, access, tools, etc.

  • Timeline for the Reporting / Information Sharing

The timeline visualizes what reporting products will be produced when. 

Information sharing may come in various forms:

- pdf reports, such as the Periodic Monitoring Report, Humanitarian Dashboard, or other
- online reports, as in Humanitarian InSight which is the external website of HPC tools.

HPC Timeline

A monitoring plan offers the following advantages:

  • The preparation of the plan allows all actors to discuss and determine how ambitious the monitoring work should be at collective level, along the duration of the respective humanitarian plan, setting a balance between what is useful, and what is realistically feasible, with the existing resources;
  • Once agreed, it informs everyone (HCT, actors, government, donors) on what will be monitored at collective level and what will not be monitored, and what report may be expected by when;
  • It distributes the tasks among all HPC stakeholders: OCHA, ICCG, cluster coordinators, organizations. Each actor will know what needs to be done and by when, for monitoring at collective level;
  • It identifies what tools and resources are required for response monitoring at collective level.
2) Humanitarian Response Monitoring 

This inter-agency guidance was produced in 2016. It sets the basis for a common approach to response monitoring. The document has not been updated since then. Its key messages are still relevant. However, some elements are outdated. 

3) PowerPoint Presentations
3.a) Introduction to Monitoring

This is a recorded PowerPoint presentation, introducing the basic concepts of response monitoring. 
It is recommended as an introduction for OCHA staff working on monitoring. 

3.b) How to Organize the Monitoring of the HRP
3.c) Using Indicators

The purpose of this PowerPoint presentation is to describe the main parameters used for indicators. The presentation uses a series of practical examples.

4) Humanitarian Indicator Registry and FAQs

This is a website developed by OCHA with the Global Clusters, offering a series of indicators with their main parameters, as support to field users when selecting indicators and targets. 

5) Humanitarian Population Figures
5.a) Humanitarian Profile Support Guidance 

This guidance was produced in 2016, as the result of inter-agency collaboration. It sets a common approach on population figures, how to categorize, how to count, and aggregate. As it was not updated since then, it is out of date on some aspects. The “onion model” remains valid.

5.b) Estimating People Reached at Country Level 

This OCHA note elaborates on how to estimate people reached at country level (HRP). 

5.c) CBPF: Aggregation of Population Reached 

This OCHA note elaborates on how to estimate people reached at country-based pooled fund (CBPF) level. 

6) Periodic Monitoring Report (PMR)

This inter-agency agreed set of documents offers a template and explanations for presenting the progress of the HRP response during the year. The publication of a PMR is not mandatory and the template can be adapted in a flexible way. 

7) Humanitarian Dashboard

This set of inter-agency agreed documents offers a template and explanations for the preparation of a Humanitarian Dashboard.

8) Monitoring in an Emergency

This is an OCHA note, proposing a realistic approach to organize the monitoring work in the first phase of a sudden onset emergency.

III. How to Organize the HRP Monitoring

Monitoring should encompass the following steps:

  • In the OCHA country team, a monitoring focal point is identified in the coordination unit, and one in the IM unit; 
  • For each cluster, the cluster coordinator designates one monitoring focal point;
  • While preparing the HRP, indicators are selected and targets are set against the strategic objectives, specific objectives, and cluster objectives of the HRP. These are presented in the HRP and entered in RPM for display in InSight. This is the basis for monitoring over the duration of the HRP (usually the calendar year);
  • After completing the preparation of the HRP, the ICCG produces a monitoring plan, to steer and focus monitoring processes. This plan presents how the HRP will be monitored throughout the year, both for humanitarian actors, and external audiences;
  • The monitoring plan is presented, discussed and endorsed by the HCT. This is not mandatory. It may be useful as a strategic move to get the buy-in from all stakeholder: Either the HCT will accept what is proposed, or the HCT may ask for a more ambitious monitoring plan for consideration of OCHA and the ICCG which may be possible if necessary resources are provided;
  • Once finalized and endorsed, the monitoring plan is shared with all: OCHA, clusters coordinators, all participating actors, government, donors, …;
  • Along the year, OCHA monitoring focal points ensure that the monitoring activities are conducted as foreseen in the monitoring plan: data collection and analysis, discussions at the ICCG when necessary, data display in InSight, preparation of reports, etc; 
  • The ICCG produces the monitoring reports under the agreed format, and according to the agreed schedule, and submits them to the HCT;
  • The reports are made publicly available, if decided by the HCT.