The first task of responding to a disaster should be meeting the priority needs of affected communities; i.e. emergency shelter, food, and water and sanitation facilities.
Following a disaster, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator oversees needs assessments carried out by the lead UN agency for each humanitarian sector. These are used to draw up global “flash appeals” to raise funding from donors.
Under the reform of the international humanitarian system, nine sectors which are deemed to be under-serviced in humanitarian response have become “clusters”, co-ordinated by a UN cluster lead who is allocated funds from a global cluster appeal in order to fulfil their leadership role. While education is not currently formally a cluster, in December 2006, the Inter Agency Standing Committee (consisting of the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners) agreed that the cluster approach would be applied to the education sector, under UNICEF's lead. Education will also be included in the 2007 global cluster appeal.
In countries, this means that following a disaster, UNICEF will present a request for funding for the education sector, based on humanitarian need, to the humanitarian co-ordinator to include in the flash appeal. Where education is deemed to be a priority need, the humanitarian co-ordinator will highlight this and it will be up to donors to provide adequate funding.