Following a humanitarian crisis, humanitarian actors in the field can immediately provide life-saving assistance using pooled funds managed by OCHA. There are three types of pooled funds: the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Common Humanitarian Funds (CHFs) and Emergency Response Funds (ERFs). These funds provide assistance for food, water and shelter immediately following a natural disaster; life-saving nutrition and medical care for babies born in refugee camps; and basic life necessities for those struggling to survive in many of the world's forgotten emergencies.
Since these funds were created, billions of dollars have been disbursed to help millions of people in dire need of assistance in nearly 80 countries. Funds come from the voluntary contributions of over 120 countries and private-sector donors.
After the onset of a disaster, the United Nations Resident Coordination or Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) can make a CERF application for humanitarian funding for priority, life-saving activities. In countries where there is an ERF or CHF, the HC can immediately release funds available upon agreed priorities at country level. NGOs cannot access CERF funds, but CHFs and ERFs can be allocated to NGOs. The majority of ERF recipients are NGO partners.
Decisions on prioritizing life-saving activities are managed by humanitarian actors on the ground. These priorities are organized into an appeal document and presented to Member States and other partners for funding. Generally there are two types of appeals: Consolidated Appeals, developed on an annual basis in countries where there are humanitarian needs, and Flash Appeals, developed following a sudden-onset emergency such as a flood or an earthquake. CERF, CHF and ERF funding is recorded against these appeals. All funding information is recorded in the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) database. OCHA coordinates the appeals and manages FTS.
OCHA’s management of these funds allows for faster response to humanitarian needs. The appeals ensure coordination of humanitarian action, while the tracking of funding facilitates transparency in how humanitarian funding is mobilized.
OCHA works with Member States and the private sector to raise funds for CERF and the other pooled funds. While Member States provide the vast majority of funding, the private sector is providing increasing amounts of money for coordinated humanitarian action through the pooled funds.