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Peer-2-Peer Support Project

The Peer-2-Peer Support Project (P2P) was established in late 2013. It was initially called the Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation Team (STAIT) and the name was changed in mid-2017 to reflect the changing humanitarian environment, as the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and the Grand Bargain surpassed the Transformative Agenda as the predominant process shaping the global humanitarian agenda. It also reflects the peer support which the project offers to Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) and Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) in field operations.

The project reports to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Emergency Directors’ Group (EDG).

Primary focus: Support to field operations

P2P is unique in its role to support HCs and HCTs strengthen collective humanitarian response in field operations. It conducts missions with teams of senior UN and NGO peers that use a bottom-up and participatory change management approach to identify specific HCT actions that will strengthen the ability to deliver assistance effectively and collectively. Missions are conducted either at the invitation of the HC, at the request of the EDG, or as a mandatory Operational Peer Review (OPR) in the event that an L3 crisis is declared by the IASC Principals:

  • Operational Peer Reviews are mandatory in all Level 3 emergencies.
  • Peer-2-Peer support missions are conducted at the request of the HC and/or the EDG. The missions are tailored to the needs of the operation and context, including the selection of mission members with the appropriate background and from relevant agencies and/or NGOs.

The P2P team also maintains contact with agencies and NGOs in-country after missions, and with agencies, NGOs and inter-agency groups at the headquarters-level to support follow-up actions. The missions include a robust accountability mechanism whereby the HC is required to report to the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) on progress made following a Peer-2-Peer mission. This provides significant encouragement for HCs and HCT members to implement the actions that were identified during missions.

Secondary focus: Learning and sharing field practices

P2P has a secondary focus on learning. In this sense, the project shares practical examples between HCs and HCTs from different field operations, of how complex problems have been tackled. The P2P team engages with a range of stakeholders to ensure that the appropriate technical expertise and relevant partners are involved in its work to articulate these examples and spread knowledge across the wide spectrum of humanitarian practitioners in headquarters and in field operations.

Senior leaders working in humanitarian settings are expected to lead on many issues, and have highlighted the need to have more clearly articulated practical steps that can guide them in how to tackle these complex issues from a leadership point of view:

Strategic issues HCs and HCTs require support with
  • Strategic HC/HCT leadership on protection (Centrality of Protection)
  • HC/HCT leadership to address Gender Based Violence (GBV)
  • Common mechanisms on accountability to affected people (AAP) which feed strategic decision-making and planning
  • Collective approaches to prevent Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) by humanitarian workers in operations
  • Principled humanitarian action
  • Strategic linkages and sequencing between HCTs and Inter-Cluster Groups
  • Preparedness as an integral part of humanitarian planning and response
  • Joint needs assessments to inform an appropriate and targeted collective response
  • Increase in scale, speed and quality of the response and enhance gender-based programming
  • Delegation of authority and decentralization from the capital to the sub-national level
  • Building an enabling approach for Security Risk Management and Access
  • Common strategic vision and programmatic linkages between relief and development activities, especially in protracted situations
  • Application of flexible multipurpose cash programming
  • Engagement with local actors as equal strategic partners


Learning products can take the form of a practical note or a case study to showcase good practices from the field; or it can be in the form of webinars where senior UN and NGO humanitarian leaders from the field talk about the ways in which they have overcome particular challenges. P2P also produces interviews with senior officials on a variety of issues impacting humanitarian operations. This can provide inspiration for other HCs and HCT members in different humanitarian operations.

Tertiary focus: Trends analysis and field concerns

The project has collected substantial data from its twenty-five field missions and analysis of trends across the different countries. The team compiles these trends for the consumption of the EDG, inter-agency groups, and donors to make sure that humanitarian policy discussions that are predominantly taking place in headquarters locations are informed by issues and challenges which have been identified in field operations.

Our impact in the field

The P2P team is regularly in contact with humanitarian field leaders to ensure its approach and services stay relevant and respond to their needs. In a 2017 survey to HCs and HCT members, it appeared that more than 85% of respondents feel that the missions are helpful (or more than helpful) for the leadership of humanitarian operations, and almost 85% consider the missions to have had a positive impact on the operation on the ground. There is particular appreciation for the support given in protection, leadership and coordination, accountability to affected populations and preparedness. There is a strong recognition that the project is unique in that it provides strategic and effective support across a wide-ranging set of areas to humanitarian leadership teams as a whole.