How CERF works

Following a humanitarian crisis, humanitarian actors in the field can immediately provide life-saving assistance using pooled funds managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). There are three types of pooled funds: CERF, Common Humanitarian Funds (CHFs) and Emergency Response Funds (ERFs). While CERF can cover all countries affected by an emergency, CHFs and ERFs are country-based pooled funds that respond to specific humanitarian situations in currently 18 countries.

The pooled funds enable humanitarian organizations to provide the most urgently needed assistance following a natural disaster; fill critical gaps in the response in countries with large, on-going humanitarian operations; and provide basic life necessities for people struggling to survive in many of the world's forgotten emergencies.

Since these funds were created, billions of dollars have been disbursed to help millions of people in dire need of assistance in 88 countries. Funds come from the voluntary contributions of over 125 countries and private-sector donors.

Immediately following a disaster, the Resident or Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) can submit a CERF application for funds to cover life-saving projects identified by UN agencies, and prioritized by the Humanitarian Country Team. CERF provides the funds directly to UN agencies and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who provide a portion of the funding to NGOs, civil society organizations and host governments for joint implementation. In countries where there is an ERF or a CHF, the HC can immediately release available funds upon agreed priorities at country level. CHFs and ERFs can allocate funds directly to NGOs.

Decisions on prioritizing life-saving activities are managed by humanitarian actors on the ground. These priorities are organized into an appeal document and presented to Member States and other partners for funding. Generally there are two types of appeals: Consolidated Appeals developed on an annual basis in countries where there are on-going humanitarian needs; and Flash Appeals developed following a sudden-onset emergency such as a flood or an earthquake. CERF, CHF and ERF funding is recorded against these appeals. All funding information is recorded in the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) database. OCHA coordinates the appeals and manages FTS.

OCHA’s management of pooled funds allows for faster response to humanitarian needs. The appeals ensure coordination of humanitarian action, while the tracking of funding facilitates transparency in how humanitarian funding is provided. OCHA works with Member States and the private sector to mobilize funds for the pooled funds and humanitarian appeals.