L3 and high priority countries

GNC countries

List of countries supported by the Global Nutrition Cluster

Nutrition Clusters function very differently from country to country. Some Clusters operate at a low level of activity and have adequate capacity to fulfil their responsibilities; others are under pressure to scale-up or oversee complex coordination processes and find their capacity over-stretched.  For a small group of countries at the extreme end of this latter group, more global support is needed.

Nutrition HRPs

Level 3 Emergencies

By designating a crisis a Humanitarian System Wide Emergency -  Level 3 (L3) emergency – the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), in coordination with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Principals, aims to mobilise the resources, leadership and capacity of the humanitarian system to respond to exceptional circumstances. A common misperception about L3 declarations is that it designates the degree of severity of humanitarian conditions. In fact, an L3 declaration means that the IASC affirm that those crises require a system-wide mobilization to significantly increase the scale of the response and improve the overall effectiveness of assistance. But, obviously, all of the countries with L3 designations suffer grave humanitarian consequences.

The decision to designate an L3 emergency is based on five criteria: the scale, urgency and complexity of the needs, as well as the lack of domestic capacity to respond and the reputational risk for the humanitarian system. In 2013, there were three L3 designations: for the responses to the conflicts in Syria and Central African Republic (CAR, downgraded to L2 in May 2015) and to the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (the response was downgraded to L2 in February 2014). In 2014, there were two additional L3 declaration: South Sudan and Iraq. In July 2015, Yemen was declared a L3 emergency.

Click on the country name to get more information about the emergency context and Nutrition Cluster website and contacts:



Website Iraq: https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/iraq/health-cluster-iraq

South Sudan


The Nutrition Cluster was activated as a part of Health and Nutrition Cluster in April 2010 and fully separated as a stand-alone cluster in August 2010. In December 2013, heightened insecurity led to activation of Level-3 Emergency in South Sudan, placing an additional burden for partners to respond to a massive internal displacement. The Nutrition Cluster at national level is led by the Department of Nutrition of the Ministry of Health and co-led by UNICEF and ACF. State-level clusters are led by NGO partners.


The cluster approach was activated in Syria following civil unrest in 2013. At the national level UNICEF leads the Nutrition Cluster. Due to the large numbers of Syrians crossing the boarder to Turkey, Turkey is providing extensive humanitarian support. In Turkey, nutrition coordination is facilitated through Health and Nutrition Working Group.



The Nutrition Cluster was activated in August 2009 following drought, irregular and out-of-season rainfall as well as civil conflict in northern Yemen. The cluster is led by UNICEF. Yemen has subnational clusters in Hodeida, Aden, Sa’ada, and Taize.

Previous L3 emergencies:

  • Philippines – typhoon Haiyan (November 2013-February 2014)
  • Central African Republic (December 2013 – May 2015).

High Priority Countries

Besides L3 emergencies, there are other countries in need of additional support from the Global Nutrition Cluster. The main criteria used by the Global Nutrition Cluster to identify and assist those countries in need of additional support are:

  • Countries where there is an acute crisis, or sudden escalation of an ongoing crisis, that requires a concerted humanitarian response and recovery effort.  Likely triggers might include a newly activated Nutrition Cluster or the launch of a Crisis/Strategic Response Plan within the last year.
  • Large-scale/regional or particularly complex operations.
  • Countries that are rated high priority with increased preparedness/response required by the IASC Early Warning/Early Action Report, or other indicators of impending crisis.

Current high priority countries include


HistoryThe Nutrition Cluster was activated in Bangladesh in 2007 to respond to cyclone Sidr though currently it is focused on support the government of Bangladesh in the coordination of effective emergency preparedness and response to humanitarian crisis, that meets core commitments and standards. The Nutrition cluster in Bangladesh will be jointly led by UNICEF and the Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN), National Nutrition Services (NNS), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW). Both actors share equal responsibilities and work together in partnership as co-leads.


History: The Nutrition Cluster was activated in Bangladesh in 2007 to respond to cyclone Sidr though currently it is focused on enhancing disaster preparedness and response capacity of partners as there are no present emergencies. The cluster is led by UNICEF with a co-lead from the Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN). Sub national cluster coordination has been established in 9 districts and the plan is to increase this to 15 by end of 2014.

Central African Republic (CAR)

History: The Cluster approach was formally introduced in Central African Republic in August 2007 and the Nutrition Cluster remains active. UNICEF is the lead, ACF is the co-lead. In December 2014, heightened insecurity led to activation of Level-3 Emergency, placing an additional burden for partners to respond to a massive internal displacement.

  • Website: pending



The Cluster Approach was introduced in Chad in July 2007 to strengthen the overall humanitarian and development response. The cluster is led by UNICEF.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)


The Nutrition Cluster was activated in 2006 and remains operational. At the national level, the Nutrition Cluster is led by UNICEF and co-facilitated by COOPI (Cooperazoni Internazional, an international NGO). At sub-national level there are 10 active provincial Nutrition Clusters. At the provincial level Nutrition Clusters are led by UNICEF and co-led by the government’s PRONANUT (Programme National de Nutrition).



Ethiopia has a long history of emergency coordination mechanisms and a special coordination unit in the government, the Ethiopia Nutrition Coordination Unit (ENCU). The cluster approach was introduced in Ethiopia in May 2007. The Nutrition Cluster is led by the Ethiopian government and facilitated by UNICEF staff seconded to the government. The sub-national Nutrition Clusters have been rolled out in six emergency-prone regions in Ethiopia.



The Nutrition Cluster was activated in Kenya in early 2008, to respond to nutrition issues arising as a result of post-election violence. The Cluster was de-activated in August of 2008 and currently the nutrition sector in Kenya is coordinated through the Nutrition Sector Working Group which is chaired by the Division of Nutrition of the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and co-led by UNICEF.



The Nutrition cluster was activated following widespread violence, displacement and food insecurity in 2012. The cluster is led by UNICEF.



The cluster approach was activated in May 2008 in response to the cyclone. It was deactivated and reactivated again in November 2010 in response to Cyclone Giri and conflicts in Kachin and Rakhine. It remains active and is led by UNICEF.



The Cluster Approach was adopted in 2008 after Koshi river floods. The Nutrition Cluster was merged with the Health cluster until June 2010 when a Nutrition Cluster Coordinator was assigned. The Nutrition cluster in Nepal is jointly led by the Ministry of Health and Population and UNICEF. Following an earthquake in 2015 Nutrition Cluster has scaled up its activities.


History: Niger is prone to recurrent food insecurity, often resulting in a nutrition crisis. The cluster approach was activated in response to a nutrition crisis in February 2010 and remains active. The Nutrition Cluster at the national level is led by UNICEF, with subnational clusters in Agadez, Maradi and Zinder and two others planed for Diffa and Tahoua.




The Cluster Approach was introduced in Pakistan during the earthquake in 2005. It was reactivated  after the cyclone and flooding in 2007 and again in 2010 in response to large scale flooding. At federal level all the clusters are de-activated as of December 2013. The only Nutrition Cluster active in Pakistan is the Kyber Puktunkwa provincial cluster, which is led by UNICEF. In Sindh province, coordination is conducted through the nutrition working group that oversees the transition of coordination functions to the Department of Health.



The Nutrition Cluster was established in 2010 and integrated into the Department of Health’s Nutrition Centre. The Nutrition Cluster was deactivated at the end of the response yet in November 2013 was reactivated to respond to Typhoon Haiyan. The Nutrition Cluster is led by the National Nutrition Council of the Department of Health and co-led by UNICEF.



The cluster approach was introduced in Somalia in early 2006. There was an existing, strong nutrition forum (the Nutrition Working Group, NWG) so the Nutrition Cluster merged with the NWG and they co-exist as a single coordination structure for nutrition activities in Somalia. UNICEF is the Nutrition Cluster lead agency, a local NGO (CAFDARO) co-leads. There are 14 sub-clusters across Somaliland and Puntland in some areas these are led by MOH and co- chaired by UNICEF. In other areas sub-clusters are led by cluster focal persons from local NGOs in consultation with the NCC.




In October 2008, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in Sudan adopted the cluster approach as a means to strengthen and improve the overall coordination of humanitarian action in Sudan. In April 2009, the HCT, under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator, agreed to roll-out the cluster approach in Darfur, to ensure that coordination mechanisms were up to the challenge of addressing the complex and pressing humanitarian and early recovery challenges in that region. The removal of 16 NGOs in March 2009 reinforced the need for improved coordination, as remaining humanitarian agencies had to act fast to ensure that millions of men, women and children continued to receive life-saving help. The Nutrition Cluster is led by UNICEF and now is a sector coordination mechanism. It has been led by the sector lead agency and now the sector is arranging to bring the Federal Ministry of Health on board as co-lead. Sub–national clusters are active in 8 major states across the country led by one of nutrition officers from the sector lead agency.




The Food Security and Nutrition Cluster, led by WFP, was created in Ukraine at the end of December 2014 following the conflict in Donbass region and displacement of more than 1mln people. Following the GNC scoping mission to Ukraine in February 2015 it was recommended to create the Nutrition Sub-Cluster, led by UNICEF, under the Health and Nutrition Cluster.


History: Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu on the evening of 13 March. The cluster coordination mechanism, adopted in 2011, was activated for the response. The Ministry of Health of Vanuatu with support from the WHO is leading and coordinating the Health and Nutrition Cluster.


Countries of  Latin America and the Caribbean

The Grupo de Resiliencia Integrada de Nutrición (GRIN) – LAC aims to support the partnership across sectors, stakeholders and Governments, exchange of information, the systematization of best practices and lessons learned at the regional and national level to strengthen Disaster Risk Reduction and Nutrition resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean.

See the interactive map for all Nutrition coordination mechanisms. For more information on other clusters (Health, WASH, etc) please visit the HumanitarianResponse.Info website



One Response to “L3 and high priority countries”

  1. child says:

    Dear Judith,

    Could I kindly ask you to redirect this specific query to gnc@unicef.org?
    Thanks in advance

    Best regards

    The GNC Web Team

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