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Operational Start-Up

Nov - Dec 2019 

Erbil, Iraq
How coordination and strategic partnership can improve humanitarian operations.

German-based humanitarian aid organization, focusing on developing WASH-projects combining the fields of water, sanitation, and hygiene.


Present in Kurdistan (Sulaymaniyah), Iraq since the outbreak of the fighting of “ISIS" in 2014, the client organization has seen the region unravel by conflict. In 2019, to assist the crisis affected population in Al Raqqa, Syria, the organization decided to scale up their operations by establishing a new office in Erbil, through which they could effectively run their new humanitarian interventions in North-East Syria. In a supporting and advisory role, we deployed a consultant to support the organization's HQ emergency unit and in-country team in establishing and operationalizing humanitarian activites in Al Raqqa, and setting up a coordination office in Erbil, Iraq.

The Approach

Following a successful experience in starting up new humanitarian activities, particularly in conflict areas, we have addressed the mission challenges with strong analytical, coordinatory and organizational approaches, especially through :

  • Pre-deployment discussions and workshops at HQ & field levels.

  • Extensive desk review and detailed field multi-sector assessment in the areas of security, logistics, supply, program etc.

  • Liaison with relevant coordination bodies, local authorities and aid actors to get contextual elements, risk factors, challenges and key requirements to set up new humanitarian operations in the country.

  • Strategic business partnerships and high-quality negotiations with thrid-party logistics, the UN System and fellow INGOs.

  • Establishment of the support infrastructure (Finance, Logistics, HR ).


  • Functioning and well-equipped office, including staff accommodation, are effectively provided in Erbil.

  • Organization support infrastructure (finance, logistics, HR etc.), including technical equipment, are effectively established and operational.

  • Effective humanitarian assistance is being delivered in Al Raqqa in less than two months following the setup of the coordination in Erbil.

The Impact

Coordination, strategic partnerships, and analytical and organizational skills can be key enablers for success, especially when operating in volatile and completely new contexts.

High-quality and detailed multi-sector assessment and relevant reports provides the organization with strong contextual elements to achieve timely and effective programming decision-making. Strategic business partnerships help maximize operational efficiency.