OCHA in 2009 Cover

Introduction and Financial Plan

OCHA in 2010 is organized into three main parts, structured around the new OCHA Strategic Framework for 2010-2013. The first part of the report includes an overview of the new Strategic Framework. The second part outlines a detailed Strategic Plan for 2010, demonstrating how OCHA intends to implement the first year of its new four-year framework. The Strategic Plan is organized by objective and includes a sample of key outputs and indicators to help OCHA systematically monitor progress in 2010. The third part presents the priority objectives, including relevant outputs and indicators, of OCHA regional offices (ROs) and country offices (COs).

In line with its basic mandate, OCHA will remain focused in 2010 on providing coordination and support services to the entire humanitarian aid community. OCHA headquarters will continue to steward efforts to build a more effective humanitarian system as well as support OCHA ROs/COs in enhancing field coordination structures and facilitating more timely and effective humanitarian action. In line with the OCHA Strategic Framework 2010-2013, the Strategic Plan for 2010 also has a particular focus on how OCHA will be changing the way it works. This means putting in place the necessary systems, guidance and internal work processes to increase organizational coherence, and thus responsiveness, over the next four years.

OCHA Staffing by Region

The cost plan adjustments associated with the 2010 budget were informed by the 2010 work plans and underpinned by the Strategic Framework for 2010-2013. Budgetary adjustments at headquarters reflect the aim to strengthen, and make more predictable, OCHA support to all aspects of the common humanitarian programme cycle – most notably in needs assessment, evaluation and effective management of pooled funding mechanisms. Accordingly, the budget accounts for a fully staffed Funding Coordination Section and additional resources to support analysis of vulnerability.

Another top priority in 2010 will be to maintain consistently high-quality and predictable services and coordination support to Member States, Resident Coordinators, Humanitarian Coordinators, Humanitarian Country Teams, and cluster leads. This will be ensured by providing appropriate staffing on a continuous basis, from the initial phases of an emergency to the phasing out of the OCHA presence. In particular, OCHA will improve its rapid response to new emergencies through an improved “suite of surge solutions” and will seek to maintain low vacancy rates for field positions.

To this end, the Coordination and Response Division will be bolstered with additional staff to manage the roster system, as it adjusts to the One UN contract requirements. Roaming surge capacity will also be added to strengthen OCHA ability to deploy field staff in the gap period between surge deployments and regular recruitment.

Significant budget increases for field offices relate primarily to the coordination needs stemming from three new emergencies (Pakistan, Philippines and Yemen), as well as to increased coordination requirements in three protracted emergencies (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sudan). In addition, the OCHA Sub-Regional Office in Fiji will be strengthened to support enhanced disaster response and preparedness in the South Pacific region.

Decreases have taken place following the closure of the OCHA Georgia Country Office in April 2009, and the phasing out or reduction of a number of other COs based on multi-year country transition strategies developed during 2009. These transition countries include Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Myanmar, Nepal and Uganda. Travel budgets have also been rationalized across all units, yielding savings across the organization.

In 2010, OCHA mandated activities are budgeted at $253 million, of which the expected UN Regular Budget appropriation of $14 million will cover six percent. The remaining $239 million will require extrabudgetary funding.

In preparing its financial plan, OCHA aimed to keep the budget at zero real growth from a baseline of March 2009, when it reviewed its financial requirements in light of the changing financial situation. OCHA achieved this through a disciplined approach, by offsetting increases in one area of work with decreases in others, thus remaining within the overall budget envelope. The actual nominal increase over the 2009 baseline budget of 6.5 percent is due to increases in standard salary costs (as determined by the International Civil Service Commission).

Based on an anticipated expenditure rate of 85-90 percent, OCHA believes the 2010 budget can be covered by projected voluntary contributions from Member States of $170 million and accrued income from the OCHA programme support account of around $30 million (covering administrative costs at at headquarters and in the field). Remaining requirements will be covered from a combination of miscellaneous (interest) income and opening balances carried forward from 2009.

Voluntary Contributions

Managing the budget, however, will be very challenging if donors earmark a significant share of funding to a small number of high visibility activities, as has been the recent trend. To function effectively, OCHA will require a greater proportion of unearmarked funding, coupled with a more flexible, broader spread of earmarked income and earlier disbursements. In 2009, 60 percent of donor contributions were tightly earmarked. Of these funds, three-quarters were earmarked for just ten COs. Coupled with late disbursements, OCHA thus experienced a significant and unsustainable cash flow challenge, particularly towards the end of the year. OCHA therefore calls on donors to increase unearmarked funding, in line with good humanitarian donorship principles, and to seek to fund a wider range of offices and activities where earmarked funding cannot be avoided. This will allow OCHA to direct funds where they are most needed, and ensure that less visible but equally critical cost plan elements receive the funds required.

OCHA is committed to monitoring its budget implementation and conducting its resource mobilization strategy with strong discipline and close scrutiny. Budget extensions or reductions outside the Mid-Year Review process are subject to formal review and will be communicated to donors in a timely manner. While further engaging programme managers in resource mobilization, OCHA will not fundraise, nor accept funds, for projects outside the approved budget. OCHA will also continue to seek to broaden its donor base and reduce its dependency on a limited number of major donors. Additional financial oversight, resource mobilization and reporting mechanisms are being introduced in 2010, as elaborated under Objective 3.1 in Part II of this report.

OCHA recognizes the generous support of its donors and would like to thank them for their contributions, which enable effective and principled humanitarian action.

Unearmarked Contributions PDF Download: OCHA Added Value to the International Humanitarium System (140kb)