The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is one of the fastest and most effective ways to support rapid humanitarian response for people affected by natural disasters and armed conflict. CERF receives voluntary contributions year-round to provide immediate funding for life-saving humanitarian action anywhere in the world.
How CERF works
CERF pools contributions from donors – mainly governments, but also, foundations, companies, charities and individuals – into a single fund with a $450 million annual target.
This money is set aside for immediate use at the onset of emergencies, in rapidly deteriorating situations and in protracted crises that fail to attract sufficient resources.
In emergencies, humanitarian organizations apply jointly for funding. Funds are immediately released if these proposals meet CERF’s criteria, i.e. the needs are urgent and the proposed activities will save lives.
With money available immediately, relief organizations can deliver food, safe drinking water, medical supplies and other life-saving aid faster and more efficiently.
CERF allocations are designed to complement other humanitarian funding sources, such as country-based pooled funds and bilateral funding.
CERF makes money available when it is needed most: at the beginning of a crisis, when time is of the essence and it is critical that emergency relief operations get under way quickly.
But mobilizing funds can take time and as time passes, more lives are lost.
CERF helps to remedy this problem with rapid response grants, which can be approved in as little as 48 hours.
CERF’s objectives are to:
- Promote early action and response to reduce loss of life
- Enhance response to time-critical requirements
- Strengthen core elements of humanitarian response in underfunded crises.
CERF provides funding to the world’s most neglected crises. When a disaster fades from the headlines, or never makes the headlines, it is much harder to raise funds. The need for help, however, is no less significant.
CERF helps to address this challenge with underfunded emergencies grants, which are disbursed twice a year for emergencies that have not attracted sufficient funding.
CERF has a loan facility of $30 million. Up to one-year loans are provided based on indication that donor funding is forthcoming.
In an average year, CERF allocates approximately $450 million to humanitarian operations in some 50 different countries. Since 2006, more than $3.7 billion has been allocated to help millions of people in 92 countries and territories across the world.
CERF funding is available to UN agencies, funds and programmes and the International Organization for Migration.
NGOs are important partners in the CERF allocation decision making processes and receive CERF funding when they carry out work for recipient organizations.
CERF is funded by voluntary contributions. Since 2006, CERF has received almost $3.8 billion from 125 UN Member States and observers, regional and local authorities, and other public and private donors. A third of CERF’s contributors have also received support from the fund.
Member States, Observers and other public entities that would like to contribute to CERF should contact the CERF secretariat. Individuals, corporations and foundations click here.
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) manages CERF on behalf of the UN Secretary-General.
The ERC is supported by the CERF secretariat, which is situated within the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The CERF secretariat is responsible for ensuring that the funds are allocated properly, disbursed in a timely manner, and that use of the funds is reported appropriately and transparently.
The CERF Advisory Group provides policy guidance to the Secretary-General on the use and impact of the fund.