Humanitarian Financing - Overview

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). While the CERF can cover all countries affected by an emergency, the CHFs and ERFs are country-based pooled funds that respond to specific humanitarian situations in currently 18 countries. [Download Global Overview of 2012 Pooled Funding]
The pooled funds enable humanitarian organizations to provide the most urgently needed assistance following a natural disaster; fill critical gaps in the response in countries with large, on-going humanitarian operations; and provide basic life necessities for people 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 85 countries. Funds come from the voluntary contributions of over 126 countries and private-sector donors.
Immediately following a disaster, the Resident or Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) can make a CERF application for funds to cover priority, life-saving projects from UN agencies. In countries where there is an ERF or CHF, the HC can immediately release available funds upon agreed priorities at country level. While NGOs cannot access CERF funds directly, CHFs and ERFs can allocate funds to international and national NGOs. In fact, the majority of ERF and CHF funds are now provided to NGO partners.

The Humanitarian Programme Cycle

The humanitarian programme cycle (HPC) is the coordinated series of actions undertaken to prepare for, manage and deliver humanitarian response. The HPC process in each country is owned and managed by humanitarian actors on the ground. The first step in the planning cycle for protracted crises is coordinated needs assessment and analysis, the outcome of which is a humanitarian needs overview (HNO) detailing the key humanitarian issues.
Based on the HNO, the country team formulates a response analysis with targets and boundaries, sets strategic objectives and develops cluster plans aimed at meeting those objectives. These strategic country objectives and cluster plans form the strategic response plan (SRP), which is the primary planning tool for the HC/HCT. In sudden onset emergencies such as floods or earthquakes, a preliminary response plan/flash appeal (PRP) produced in the first few days of the event serves as the initial planning tool.
Both PRPs and SRPs serve a secondary purpose as fundraising tools, as they can be shared with donors and partners to communicate the strategic priorities of the response. CERF, CHF and ERF funding is recorded against these response plans. All funding information is recorded in the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) database, which is managed by OCHA and available to the public. OCHA also summaries the needs and requirements globally and produces an annual Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) for the year ahead in December of each year, and a GHO Status Report at mid-year.
OCHA’s management of pooled 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 provided. OCHA works with Member States and the private sector to mobilize funds for the pooled funds and humanitarian appeals.

Other Resources

  • CERF (Central Emengency Response Fund)
  • CAP (Consolidated Appeal Process)
  • FTS (Financial Tracking Service)