OCHA Trust Funds, Special Accounts and Other Funding Channels
OCHA finances its activities through two main channels:
- The United Nations Regular Budget, which is approved biennially by the General Assembly (in 2009, this will comprise five per cent of OCHA’s total initial annual requirements); and
- Voluntary contributions administered through trust funds (primarily the Trust Fund for the Strengthening of OCHA and the Trust Fund for Disaster Relief – for which regular contributions are vital).
Trust Fund for the Strengthening of OCHA
Established in 1974 pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 3243
Voluntary contributions to this trust fund enable OCHA to cover staff and non-staff costs at headquarters for core activities carried out in the discharge of the mandate entrusted to it by the General Assembly (where these costs are not funded by Regular Budget allocations).
This fund is subject to three per cent programme support costs on grants to NGOs and 13 per cent on core and other activities.
Sub-account for Strengthening the Integrated Regional Information Networks
Established under the Trust Fund for the Strengthening of OCHA as the funding source for IRIN’s staff and non-staff requirements
This sub-account is subject to 13 per cent programme support costs.
Trust Fund for Disaster Relief
Established in 1971 pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 2816
This fund receives earmarked and unearmarked contributions for disaster relief to finance coordination and relief activities and provide initial emergency grants to field offices. The fund enables OCHA to cover relief needs as an advance in cases where the response of the donor community is slow. Earmarked contributions are deposited into separate accounts for specific projects or countries affected by crisis.
The fund is subject to three per cent programme support costs on grants to NGOs and other partners and 13 per cent on activities carried out by OCHA.
A special sub-account known as the Field Coordination Reserve Fund was established in 1999 to enable donors to provide unearmarked funds for field coordination. This sub-account is used as a reserve fund to allow for the establishment of OCHA presences in new emergencies, the expansion of presences in changing situations and support to severely underfunded crises. Following assessment of the programming and funding situation of its field offices, OCHA is able to allocate resources from this fund on a priority and emergency basis – allowing field operations to be managed with the required flexibility, and promoting equity between crises.
The Field Coordination Reserve Fund is subject to 13 per cent programme support costs.
The Trust Fund for Disaster Relief also contains “specially designated contributions”, which do not form part of the requirements for activities detailed in OCHA in 2009. They are used for the implementation of emergency relief assistance activities by partners (United Nations Agencies and NGOs) and include:
- Natural Disaster Activities – grants for United Nations Agencies and other partners providing emergency relief in the event of a natural disaster (funds may be earmarked for a specific purpose or disaster, such as the purchase of relief items, UNDAC deployments, surge capacity deployments or the management of OCHA’s relief stocks held in the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot).
- Natural Disaster Reserve Pre-positioned Funds – pre-positioned reserves that are loosely earmarked by donors and held in reserve for natural disaster response in any country.
- Other Humanitarian Funds – includes funds consisting of contributions that are earmarked by donors as grants for United Nations Agencies and NGOs implementing relief activities in the field (for Emergency/Humanitarian Response Funds).
Special Account for Programme Support
The funds in this account are derived from the programme support costs levied on activities financed through OCHA’s trust funds. This levy is 3 per cent on grants to NGOs and 13 per cent on all expenditures incurred by OCHA activities. The resulting income is used to fund administrative and common services provided by the United Nations in support of OCHA’s extrabudgetary activities.
Afghanistan Emergency Trust Fund
Established in June 1988 by the Secretary-General.
The Afghanistan Emergency Trust Fund channels funds received from donors for humanitarian activities in Afghanistan. The fund currently supports the Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the necessary assistance through two memoranda of understanding: the first provides grants to NGOs working to address rehabilitation needs, while the second is for humanitarian and economic development activities.
Programme support costs generated through this trust fund remain within the fund.
Tsunami Trust Fund
Established following the tsunami of 26 December 2004
This fund finances activities undertaken in the course of coordination of humanitarian action in relation to the earthquake and tsunami of December 2004, including the provision of relief to victims as well as longer-term infrastructure development. The fund is in its closing stages, with funds remaining used to support UNDP’s development activities. This fund is not expected to be active beyond 2008 and it is anticipated to close finally in 2009.
Programme support is levied at 3 per cent for grants to United Nations Agencies, international organizations and NGOs, with 13 per cent for coordination activities carried out by OCHA.
Central Emergency Response Fund
Established in 1991 pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 46/182 as a Revolving Fund; expanded in December 2005 to a Response Fund following a consensus decision.
The Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) operated for 14 years as a revolving cash-flow mechanism, ensuring the provision of adequate resources to United Nations humanitarian agencies in the initial phase of emergencies requiring a system-wide response. The loan facility of US$ 50 million primarily allows agencies to access funds quickly while awaiting receipt of contributions from pledges.
The fund was upgraded (and renamed as the Central Emergency Response Fund) in December 2005 to include a grant element that makes funds available to United Nations Agencies and the International Organization for Migration for early action and response – to reduce loss of life and enhance response to time-critical requirements and to strengthen core elements of humanitarian response in underfunded crises. The CERF is resourced through voluntary contributions, and its target is US$ 500 million, of which US$ 450 million is for grants. As of November 2008, the CERF had distributed more than $1 billion in grants.