Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM)

DRC’s approach to Camp Management (CM) differs from many other agencies as in emergency operations we apply a multi-sector approach to camp management, and are hesitant to take on CM as a stand-alone task. When we take on CM, we also strive to take on Protection activities and ensure that protection analysis informs the way we set up and manage the camp. Further, DRC strives to take on one or more so-called “service sectors” such as Shelter & NFIs, Food Distribution or WASH. In this sense, DRC takes a multi-sector and holistic approach to camp management, which strives to establish the best possible protective environment, build on and expand the affected populations’ own capacities, develop solid two-way channels of communication and maintain positive relations between the various communities both inside and outside of the camp. When this approach is successfully applied, it sets the route towards recovery.

For the purpose of CM and the CCCM Cluster, camps are defined in a wide sense and include “camp like settings” which covers planned formal and spontaneous self-settled camps, collective centers, which often are urban, reception and departure centers, or way-stations.  In all of these it remains the essential role for CM agencies to ensure that humanitarian standards are met in the camp setting. In sizeable camps the CM most frequently has permanent presence. In unstable zones covering a large number of formal and informal communal sites, Mobile Site Management Teams that have a rapid response capacity might be preferable to implement CM activities in a flexible manner. In this sense, camp management can take different forms.

The CCCM clusters at times apply CCCM functions outside of camp and camp like settings, i.e. with more dispersed displacement. While DRC fully recognizes the need for ensuring that affected populations residing outside of camps are included in protection and assistance provisions in accordance with needs and rights, DRC does not consider the application of an area-based approach for dispersed populations as a camp management function. So while DRC eagerly takes on area-based approaches in many, if not most, of our emergency operations, we do not as such categorize this as camp management.

The CCCM sector includes coordination mechanisms that aim at applying standard approaches both to refugee operations (Refugee Model) and IDP operations (CCCM Cluster Model). The traditional CCCM model foresees three coordination bodies each of them with a pre-defined role:

  • Camp Coordination (Lead Agency for the CCCM Sector): the agency (either IOM or UNHCR depending on type of disaster) that leads the strategic planning and coordination of approaches and standards across of the camps.
  • Camp Administrator: This is typically the role of the state, which designates a suitable state institution which takes on the lead in functions related to administration and security in camps
  • Camp Manager: The agencies, (usually) an international or national NGO that lead the response in one camp through coordination of service providers. This is the role DRC generally takes on.

Depending on the policies of the local government there may be variations in these roles, and in some contexts camps are also managed directly by government agencies with humanitarian actors advising, resourcing and/or training government staff, and acting as sector service providers.

CCCM programming includes a strong focus on accountability, community participation, mobilization and engagement. Participation should be fully mainstreamed in an emergency response from the very beginning.and a participatory, community-based approach and protection lens should be applied to all policies, activities and services taking place in camps/settlements. We should ensure that different segments of the site population, taking into consideration age, gender and diversity, can participate in the making of decisions that affect their lives and actively engage in the planning and implementation of humanitarian activities. Participation is essential in trying to ensure that humanitarian actors remain accountable to the displaced persons they are working with; thereby maintaining the agency and dignity of beneficiaries and ensuring that the humanitarian response is in line with the needs of the displaced population.

While DRC has worked in camps and camp-like settings from the outset of our engagement in international humanitarian work, direct engagement as a Camp Management (CM) agency is far more recent. DRC first took on this role in Liberia in 2011, taking the lead in cooperation with state duty bearers and UNHCR on constructing and managing a camp for refugees from the Ivory Coast. Since 2011 DRC has taken on similar tasks in South Sudan, CAR, Myanmar, Iraq, DR Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Greece, among others. From the outset in Liberia it was clear that taking on a Camp Management role as part of setting up an emergency response was a good match for DRC when the context was right. DRC is now globally recognized as one of the few go-to NGOs with the capacity and willingness to take on Camp Management functions and in line with this, DRC has a seat in the Strategic Advisory Group of the global CCCM Cluster. Further, the RERA agreement with UNHCR provides the key role as Camp Management agency to DRC. Nevertheless, Camp Management is not a formal DRC sector, but is included in the sector: Community Infrastructure & Services.

CCCM interventions in emergencies

 The objective of CCCM is to ensure that displaced persons living in camps and camp-like settings can enjoy their human rights and have equitable access to services and protection. In the emergency phase, key aspects of DRC’s CCCM programming include:

  • Undertaking independent or interagency needs assessments focused on needs and vulnerabilities. A useful list of cluster-aligned CCCM indicators is available from the OCHA managed Indicator Registry.
  • Site Selection, Site Planning and Camp ConstructionIn selecting sites for camps key factors as safety, security, protection, access, site conditions, availability of resources and environmental impact should be taken into consideration. More often, however, at the onset of an emergency, the CM will find spontaneous/self-settled sites which require improvement and should be assessed and monitored for risks and issues that may affect the safety of site residents, as well as the general livability of the site.
  • Site rehabilitation work to maintain the site and reduce infrastructural and environmental hazards.
  • Set-up of coordination mechanisms to identify needs and gaps, mitigate the risk of duplication, enhance the protective environment of displaced populations and enhance the participation of site residents. Coordination tools typically include 3W/4W, inter-agency referral systems, camp indicator trackers, contact lists, meeting schedules and work plans. Representatives of the affected population should be engaged.
  • Service coordination and monitoring: A system for monitoring, mapping and reporting on services provision in camp/settlement should be in place. 
  • Information Management: mapping of communal settings and having an updated Camp Profile, conducting multi sectorial needs assessments and intention surveys/focus group meetings, return processes/flows, analysis and dissemination of information to relevant stakeholders (including to the residents of communal settings) and referring urgent needs to specialised partners. 
  • Engagement, Mobilisation and Participation of displaced population: Representational and sectoral groups should be created for liaison with camp management and other humanitarian actors. The type and number of representative and sectorial groups will depend on a number of factors, including the number and profile of persons residing at a site. At the very onset of an emergency CM may initially liaise more closely with self-appointed site representatives, and try to ensure the participation of other groups through such forums as focus group discussions, key informant interviews and feedback mechanisms, whilst working to eventually establish a more representational governance system. Effective and timely two-way communication mechanisms must be in place for camp/settlement residents.
  • Capacity Building: CM agencies are involved in building the capacity of local authorities, community leaders and members of representative groups to ensure CCCM principles are upheld in communal settings. While CCCM capacity building often takes the form of formal trainings conducted by certified trainers, in the onset of an emergency experienced CCCM staff can also be deployed to camps and camp like settings to conduct on the job coaching and mentoring of CCCM actors.


Common Challenges in Camp Management Programming

  • Overlap with coordinating agencies/role of host government, particularly in refugee contexts.
  • Political aspects of encampment with host government and ensuring civilian character of camps.
  • Conflicts between camp residents and host community.
  • Intercommunity tensions within camps – ensuring representation in decision-making processes accurately reflects camp population
  • Lack of standard approaches among humanitarian actors.
  • Limitations to freedom of movement
  • Prolonged encampment, limited livelihood opportunities, loss of capacity for return and integration


Core Guidance and Standards



Contact the HQ Emergency Unit: [email protected]