Responding to Humanitarian Appeals


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CERF was a strong supporter of the humanitarian system’s planning frameworks for coordinated humanitarian response in 2011. More than two-thirds of CERF contributions, or $292 million, went towards Consolidated Appeals, Flash Appeals and other humanitarian action plans. CERF was the fifth largest source of funding for Consolidated and Flash Appeals in 2011.

Although CERF provides a relatively small percentage of total funding received against appeals (5 per cent in 2011), it has high strategic importance in evening out funding disparities among emergencies through the underfunded emergencies window, and providing timely funding to jump-start responses through the rapid response window.

In some cases, CERF covered a large proportion of appeal requirements. For example, after the worst recorded floods in Namibia’s history, the Government allocated some $4.5 million to respond to the crisis while appealing for international aid. An estimated 60 to 70 per cent of Government funds were used for logistics, while the Flash Appeal focused on support to sectors not fully covered by the Government such as health, protection, water, sanitation and non-food items. CERF funding covered 31 per cent of all 2011 appeal requirements in Namibia.

Due to the extent and magnitude of the impact of Tropical Depression 12-E on El Salvador, as well as the severe damage caused by rains to infrastructure and in agricultural areas, the nation faced one of the largest disasters in its history in 2011. The ensuing rainfall affected 70 per cent of municipalities, damaging homes and public infrastructure, disrupted essential health services and affected 1 million people. Although the Salvadoran Government responded quickly and effectively to the crisis, there were still significant humanitarian gaps in the response. The Humanitarian Country Team launched a Flash Appeal to mobilize additional resources and support for Government efforts. CERF responded by approving $2.1 million in rapid response grants, which funded 15 per cent of Flash Appeal requirements.

The heaviest rains in almost one hundred years hit Sri Lanka from 26 December 2010 onwards, causing devastating flooding and landslides throughout the country. The extensive floods cumulatively stretched coping strategies and available resources to the brink of exhaustion. At the height of the crisis, the Ministry of Disaster Management reported that 1,055,262 people (283,667 families) were affected by flooding, and 362,646 people were displaced and housed in some 630 temporary relocation centres in 12 districts. The Government allocated over $31 million for relief supplies and asked for international assistance. A Flash Appeal requesting $51 million was launched to enable international partners to address the needs of more than 1 million flood-affected people over a six-month period. To kick-start the emergency response, the UNCT requested a CERF rapid response grant to allow immediate implementation of life-saving projects for people affected by floods as described in the Flash Appeal. CERF provided $6 million in rapid response grants to Sri Lanka, covering 13 per cent of Appeal requirements.


CERF funding used in combination with country-based pooled funds gave Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) and Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) powerful and flexible humanitarian financing options to enable quick and strategic responses to evolving emergencies.

As a first line of coordinated response to the drought in Somalia, the HC allocated $4.5 million from the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) in December 2010 to the Livelihoods and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Clusters. The subsequent allocation of $15 million of CERF underfunded grants in February 2011 proved timely, as it coincided with deciding the priorities for the second CHF standard allocation in February 2011. The allocations from both pooled funds were based on the same humanitarian priorities, and they enabled the HCT to implement a complementary and strategic drought response.

CERF allocations were fully aligned with CHF priorities, as set by its Advisory Board and established by the HCT. The pooled funds ensured timely implementation of critical life-saving interventions to protect livelihood assets, provide services to treat acutely malnourished children, and increase access to food and to safe water, sanitation and health services. As of 1 March 2011, the key life-saving clusters had not received other funding, and pooled funding accounted for one quarter of all new funding received for humanitarian action in Somalia.

By mid-2011, it was apparent that the crisis was worsening and that efforts to address the drought were hampered by inadequate funding. Therefore, CERF funding in July provided the much-needed impetus to kick-start the scale-up of interventions. At the time of the CERF rapid response application, the Somalia CAP was only 47 per cent funded. Given the slow funding flows, the HCT agreed to bridge the period with a rapid response grant until the CHF standard allocation in August.

The response benefited from synergies between both funds. The CERF grant was used for the most acute interventions that would help alleviate the immediate crisis, while long-term and strategic activities were funded under the subsequent CHF standard allocation.

In Ethiopia, the annual Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) is the Ethiopian equivalent of a Consolidated Appeal. It is jointly issued by the Government and humanitarian partners to prioritize country-level sectoral requirements. Sectoral needs identified in the HRD and other fundraising documents were used to prioritize the allocation of CERF funds in 2011. The Emergency Response Fund in Ethiopia (known as the Humanitarian Response Fund, or HRF) was a major source of funding and  contributed significantly to needs identified in the HRD.

A revised HRD was issued in April 2011, reflecting the emerging humanitarian needs in the drought-affected areas of Ethiopia. It was used to prioritize CERF rapid response grant requests. The integration of the HRF for Ethiopia and CERF funding was implemented during the grant-allocation process. Allocations from the two CERF funding windows were discussed at HRF Review Board meetings to ensure complementarities and avoid duplication of efforts. The Review Board, comprising key humanitarian agencies and NGO representatives, reviewed project proposals and supported the HC with recommendations of projects to be funded. The board also conducted technical reviews of funding proposals prepared by applicant UN agencies to assess their merit from various perspectives, including conformity with CERF criteria and intent to support national priorities.

To ensure balanced access to existing pooled funds, the HRF encouraged INGOs to increase their use of the fund, as CERF is only directly accessible to UN agencies. The HRF granted nearly 59 per cent ($30.6 million) of its total 2011 allocations ($52 million) to international NGOs. This enabled national NGOs to access HRF funding through partnerships with HRF-recipient international NGOs and UN agencies.

For underfunded grants received by Ethiopian partners in 2011, a committee comprising non-UN and non-recipient agencies was created to review and prioritize project applications.