How OCHA is funded

OCHA’s role is to bring together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. The core function of the organisation is to mobilize and coordinate effective humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors; advocate the rights of people in need; promote preparedness and prevention and facilitate sustainable solutions. But all of this cannot be achieved without the support from its donors.

OCHA receives voluntary contributions from a diverse set of donors. Their generous contributions and constant active support allow OCHA to grow and to develop innovative ways to deal with the challenges facing the global humanitarian community. OCHA values donors’ efforts to fund us year after year and counts on their continued support during these times of multiple and complex humanitarian crises.

OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG)

The ODSG is a group of donors who acts as a ‘sounding board’ and a source of advice on policy, management, budgetary and financial questions. Its goal is to support OCHA in fulfilling its mandate. ODSG members commit to provide political, financial and technical support towards fulfilling OCHA’s mandated coordination activities. In 2014, ODSG members provided 93 per cent ($221.8 million) of OCHA’s voluntary contributions, as well as considerable policy and advocacy support.

The ODSG is under the leadership of a Chair that sits for a year and consists of 27 members being; Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and the European Commission.

OCHA Budget

To finance OCHA’s activities, only 5 per cent of the organisation’s annual budget is funded from the United Nations Regular Budget. Therefore OCHA is, year after year, above all dependent on the voluntary contribution of its Member States’ and the European Commission. The United Nations General Assembly approves the Regular Budget every two years, which is funded from assessed contributions paid by each Member State.

As OCHA is a constantly growing organization and the world is unfortunately experiencing constant emergency situations, the budget for humanitarian help and coordination is increasing as well. OCHA makes sure that the contributions made by donors find their way to the situations that are in need, providing the financial requirements for its own Programme, and this as efficient as possible. By coordinating humanitarian action, information management and humanitarian financing, a proficient system has been developed to guarantee a fast response to humanitarian crises without extra costs for the donors.

Specially Designated Contributions (SDCs)

Furthermore, donors can choose to fund humanitarian projects that are implemented by third parties (UN partners and NGO’s). These are the so-called SDCs, but they are not included in the annual budget plan, as they do not have a direct link to OCHA’s activities. Therefore OCHA channels this sort of income to third parties in the form of grants. The most common SDCs are:

  • Emergency Respond Funds (ERFs).
  • Natural disaster activities (emergency cash grants).
  • UNDAC Mission Accounts: Member States deposit funding with OCHA, which is then used to deploy their nationals on UNDAC Missions.
  • Relief Stock Items: are used to purchase and manage OCHA relief stocks held in the UN Humanitarian Response Depot.
  • Protection Standby Capacity (ProCap) and Gender Standby Capacity (GenCap) Projects: covers the Norwegian Refugee Council’s management and deployments of senior protection officers and senior gender advisers, as well as related training programmes.

Flexible Funding

To enable the allocation of funds where and when they are needed, there is need for flexibility in the received contributions. Therefore an important part of OCHA’s resource mobilization strategy is to secure a healthy balance between earmarked and unearmarked funding from donors and, where possible, to secure those commitments on a multi-year basis, in order the secure a timeliness of OCHA’s donor income. In 2014, OCHA received $129.2 million (54 per cent) in earmarked contributions and $108.3 (46 per cent) million in unearmarked funds.

Some donor policies allow, or favour, the allocation of unearmarked funding to humanitarian organizations in return for corporate-performance commitments, and an expectation that funds will be internally allocated where they are most needed, including during a sudden on-set emergency. This results in a greater operational flexibility and security while allocating funding, especially at the start of each year. Given such a high percentage of OCHA’s costs are staff-related, this is very important.