16 Dec 2015
Printer-friendly version

This week, on 17 December, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will mark its 10 year anniversary. Created in 2005, CERF marked an innovative breakthrough in humanitarian funding by Member States of the UN General Assembly as a “fund for all, by all”. It raises and pools funds before the need arises, and provides fast, predictable funding to partners on the frontlines at the onset of a crisis, as well as financing critically underfunded emergencies.

Over the past 10 years, CERF has disbursed more than US$4.1 billion to support hundreds of millions of people affected by natural disasters, conflicts and complex emergencies across 94 countries and territories, ranging from Africa and Asia to Latin America and the Middle East.

CERF has more than proved its worth. It is fast: funds were disbursed within 10 hours of the Haiti earthquake and within 48 hours of the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and of the Nepal earthquake.

CERF also supports response in crises that could not leverage sufficient attention or support from donors. In 2015, it disbursed $76 million for the protracted conflict in Syria and $70 million to support people in Bangladesh, Darfur, the Horn of Africa and Myanmar.

Because of CERF, 20 million people receive life-saving health treatments each year, 10 million people receive nourishing food, 8 million people can now access clean water and sanitation, and 1 million people who have been displaced have shelter.

This is made possible only by the 125 Member States and observers, regional and local governments, private donors and individuals that have come together to demonstrate their solidarity to people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

As we celebrate CERF’s impact, we must also recognize that the world has changed. A record 125 million people will need humanitarian assistance to get by in 2016. The new norm is protracted crises with regional implications, high levels of displacement but few political solutions in sight. In this climate, donors have been generous, providing more aid than ever. But despite this, the level of suffering outpaces the funding we need.

To address these issues, the UN Secretary-General has convened a High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing and called for the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 to look at the systemic constraints and challenges of the current humanitarian response and funding model. We look forward to the panel’s recommendations.  

Amid these important discussions, it is clear that CERF has a proven track record and will continue to play a critical role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian response.  The CERF High-Level Conference is an opportunity for Member States and other stakeholders to review the success of the past and also identify strategic directions on CERF for the future. This year we are calling for $450 million from Member States and other donors to help us meet the needs of the most vulnerable in crises. Your support will help us continue saving lives together.

The CERF High-Level Conference will take place on 17 December from 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST in the ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters in New York.   The conference will be streamed live at www.webtv.un.org.  Also follow and join the discussion on Twitter using @UNCERF, #CERF10 and #SavingLivesTogether. 

Key resources:

  • CERF's 10-year anniversary flagship publication THE WORLD HELPING THE WORLD, available at www.unocha.org/cerf/10years
  • The film, 10 YEARS OF SAVING LIVES TOGETHER, available here youtu.be/N9Sis_RxCM
  • CERF pledges for 2016 (as of 18 december 2015): /cerf/sites/default/files/CERF/CERF-HLC_for_2016.pdf