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Donor and External Relations Section

The work of the Donor and External Relations Section was greatly influenced by the humanitarian response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the South Asia earthquake, which required mobilisation of all capacities in the section. The Humanitarian Reform also took shape and the General Assembly endorsed an upgrade of the Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF). Opportunities presented themselves to move forward with the development of a system to receive funding from the private and corporate sectors.

OCHA made progress in broadening partnerships and the donor base, with the support of members of the OCHA Donor Support Group and other key developing countries. As the overall requirements increased by some 20 percent in the course of the year, the share received from the UN regular budget dropped to less than nine percent of the global budget. Despite the major financial challenges, donors contributed 97 percent of the initial needs and fully funded several short-term projects.

The planned integration of Donor and External Relations to strengthen the coherence and effectiveness of support to humanitarian and donor partners did take place in New York, but implementation has been delayed in Geneva. Nevertheless a number of activities were undertaken jointly in Geneva, in particular with regard to initiatives on new partnerships.

Key objectives

  • Advocate and mobilise support for humanitarian initiatives by strengthening relationships with Member States of the United Nations system, intergovernmental, regional and European organisations and civil society, the Red Cross movements, and NGOs involved in humanitarian action
  • Advise the Senior Management Team on the strategic management of the relationship of OCHA with humanitarian partners and the mobilisation of resources
  • Serve as the focal point of support to management in focusing within OCHA on proactive and strategic interactions with donors

Relations with an increased number of Member States were further strengthened thanks to a great extent to support from the Chair and a number of members of the OCHA Donor Support Group. This was reflected, for instance, in a seminar on partnerships in international humanitarian action held in Abu Dhabi in May 2005 and organised in close cooperation between OCHA, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society.

OCHA also adopted a regional approach in broadening humanitarian partnerships, developing tailor-made strategies and institutionalising policy dialogues with each regional group. Senior managers undertook missions to target countries to concretise partnerships.

The mobilisation of resources was supported by increased interaction with existing and potential new donors, and with advice to the SMT on the strategic management of proactive interaction with donors and all entities within OCHA, both at headquarters and in the field.

The section worked closely with a number of donors towards a more strategic and multi-year partnership, with the aim of achieving greater predictability of funding for OCHA’s annual and project-specific requirements.

The requirements for an OCHA Contributions Tracking system to form the basis for systematic reporting to donors were outlined in 2005, but a heavy workload and delayed recruitment of an expert meant that its development was not started until year-end.

Against the background of the generous response to the two major natural disasters in 2005, the Indian Ocean tsunami and the South Asia earthquake, the number of donors who provided funding to OCHA for activities inside and outside the requirements reflected in OCHA in 2005 increased considerably. The section followed up with these new donors to find ways to translate ad hoc contributions into more sustained relationships.

The reform of the humanitarian system, and especially the endorsement of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), provided a unique opportunity to play a pivotal role on behalf of the wider UN humanitarian family in mobilising support. The section organized a number of consultation meetings with OCHA senior managers and Member States to ensure broader support to the reform processes.

One of the most important messages to United Nations Member States was that funding for the CERF should be additional to the contributions provided to humanitarian agencies on an annual basis, rather than a shift of resources towards a central fund.

As a direct result of the unprecedented response to the tsunami, the section became actively involved in efforts to harness and facilitate private sector engagement. The most concrete outputs were the development of a relationship with the Business Roundtable, the joint organisation of a high-level conference on Advancing Public Private Partnership in Response to Global Disasters, and the launch of an online orientation guide for corporate donations, developed in cooperation with the Global Compact.

In addition, the section developed partnerships with the UN Foundation on resource mobilisation from the private sector by online contribution facilities for earthquake relief in Pakistan; with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to strengthen accountability; and with Deutsche Post (DHL) to increase UN capacity for airport logistics during crises.

Continued participation in the Good Humanitarian Donorship Implementation Group in Geneva, on behalf of the IASC Contact Group on GHD, made it possible to continue follow-up with its members on a number of principles with direct implications for OCHA’s funding situation.

Meanwhile, the harmonisation of reporting requirements, for which OCHA was one of the three pilot agencies, was adopted as a key objective for the OCHA Donor Support Group. The section developed a tracking matrix on the reporting and management demands from ODSG members, which clearly shows the progress made since 2003 and where further improvement can be made.

The section continued to be the focal point with donors and DESA for the Associate Experts Programme for OCHA Geneva and the field, and was involved in the selection and recruitment of a number of AEs, including liaison with donors on prospective candidates and positions, and making recommendations to relevant OCHA branches and units.

Performance evaluation Interaction with UN Member States, including with members of the G-77 in Geneva and New York, and with the European Commission, increased considerably and resulted additional other forms of support for OCHA’s annual and ad hoc requirements.

The funding in real terms increased from US$ 80.6 million in 2004 to US$ 94.9 million in 2005. Despite the considerable increase in OCHA’s requirements, 81 percent were met, which is the same percentage level as in 2004. Based in part on consultation and advocacy by the section, developing countries became strong supporters of the CERF and now constitute 50 percent of donors to the fund.

The number of donors who contributed to activities in OCHA in 2005 rose to 40 in 2005, up from 34 who contributed to OCHA in 2004. Luxembourg joined the ODSG in 2005, bringing the number of members to 18 at the end of 2005.

On top of this, there were many donors, including from the corporate and private sector, who provided funding and in-kind assistance to OCHA in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. OCHA allocated these funds to UN Agencies and international organisations participating in the Flash Appeal on the basis of priorities identified by the Humanitarian Coordinators on behalf of the country teams.

The establishment of Public-Private Partnerships was a real breakthrough in 2005, and has laid the groundwork for future developments, in particular in allowing for private or corporate contributions to the upgraded CERF. The section concluded three public-private partnerships, with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Deutsche Post (DHL) and First Logic.

The share of unearmarked or less rigidly earmarked funding grew from 28 percent in 2004 to close to 50 percent in 2005.




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