The Iraq Humanitarian Fund (IHF, formerly known as the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund) is a pooled fund led by the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and managed by OCHA. Established in June 2015, the IHF quickly became one of the world’s largest country-based pooled funds (CBPFs). The fund supports humanitarian partners responding to the complex and dynamic crisis in Iraq, including through direct funding to national front-line responders.
The objectives of the IHF are to:
- Support life-saving and life-sustaining activities while filling critical funding gaps.
- Promote needs-based assistance in accordance with humanitarian principles.
- Strengthen coordination and leadership primarily through the HC function and by leveraging the cluster system.
- Improve the relevance and coherence of humanitarian response by strategically funding priorities as identified under the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).
- Expand the delivery of assistance in hard-to-reach areas by partnering with national and international NGOs.
The IHF facilitates timely resource mobilization for the most critical humanitarian needs as defined by the HRP, while retaining flexibility to allocate funds to unforeseen emergency needs and critical gaps as they emerge.
From 2016 to 2017, the Fund has addressed escalating humanitarian needs in the wake of military offensives to retake areas controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) including Fallujah and Mosul. For the Mosul response, the IHF was among the first, fastest and largest funding mechanisms available for humanitarian partners, contributing over 15 per cent of the US$284 million Mosul Flash Appeal.
In 2018 and 2019, the IHF remained pivotal in addressing shifting needs of vulnerable population amid the transition from a rapid response to massive displacement to a protracted crisis in search for durable solutions.
In 2019 and 2020, the IHF promoted NGO-led consortia to reinforce and further cultivate the role of reliable national actors in the humanitarian coordination architecture to deliver more cost-effective, culturally appropriate and sustainable humanitarian assistance. Throughout 2020, the Fund allocated $32.1 million to support 41 projects of 34 direct recipient partners, largely through multi-NGO consortia. Together, these allocations supported 66 partners including UN agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Red Cross/Crescent Movement, and government counterparts, channeling 94 per cent of funds to NGO partners including 24 per cent to national NGOs.
In May 2020, the Fund launched a Standard Allocation, which supported prioritized 2020 HRP activities in eight sectors that also contributed to the rapidly scaled-up COVID19 prevention and response in Iraq, mainly in out-of-camp and other underserved locations. The IHF through this allocation utilized the consortium approach aimed at enhancing the participation and response capacity of national partners; a net funding of $3.6 million (30 per cent of the total allocation) was disbursed to national NGOs. The allocation funded 20 projects implemented by 42 partners including 20 international NGOs, 16 national NGOs, 5 UN agencies and 1 Red Cross/Red Crescent organization. At least 1.2 million people were targeted with humanitarian assistance.
In October, the Humanitarian Cooridnator approved a Cost Extension Strategy to top up cluster-recommended projects funded through the 2020 1st Standard Allocation and 2019 2nd Standard Allocation. These cost extensions, with a combined amount of $11.6 million, allowed for streamlined disbursement of funds with minimum processing time and extra work for clusters and partners to support the expanded operation of already-formed consortia, addressing critical operational and funding gaps in the 2020 HRP.
In view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Iraq and the need to scale up support to the Government in managing a larger number of cases in displacement camps, the IHF launched a Reserve Allocation in November to support COVID-19 quarantine and isolation (Q/I) area set up in IDP camps. The $2.6 million allocation supports Q/I area installation and running costs in prioritized camps that are least likely to close immediately, through shelter/NFI, health and WASH interventions.
In light of sudden closures of a number of IDP camps since mid-October 2020, which triggered rushed returns and secondary displacement of some 34,000 people by early December, the IHF launched another Reserve Allocation to support rapid response of shelter/NFI, protection and WASH partners targeting the areas of the highest number of new arrivals impacted by these camp closures. A total of $5.6 million was allocated to address the most urgent needs of families impacted by these camp closures.
In 2021, the Fund will pursue the following strategic objectives:
- Prioritize returnees (with a focus on those with critical shelter needs) and out-of-camp IDPs in underserved locations utilizing local NGO capacity to the furthest extent possible.
- Fund underfunded global humanitarian priorities through thematic allocation strategies to promote: support to women and girls (including GBV); programmes targeting disabled people; and other aspects of protection.