The Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF), launched in February 2017, is a rapid and flexible funding mechanism supporting Nigerian NGOs, international NGOs and UN agencies, to respond to the most pressing or critical emergencies in a fast-changing environment. It is a pooled fund managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and has received contributions from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Sweden and Switzerland for urgent actions in 2020.
Under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, the NHF supports the timely allocation and disbursement of donor resources to the most critical humanitarian needs defined in the Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, in April 2020, the NHF promptly allocated over US$1 million to the World Health Organization to provide essential supplies for frontline health workers to protect people from COVID-19 and curtail the spread of the virus.
In June, the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund announced a US$22.4 million funding allocation for 2020 that will help address the increased vulnerability of people affected by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the existing humanitarian crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. This is the fund’s largest allocation since the NHF was launched in February 2017 and it comes at a crucial time as north-east Nigeria enters its 11th year of a protracted crisis while grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria remains among the most severe in the world today. Violence by non-state armed groups and military operations continue to affect millions of people, while the COVID-19 crisis has affected many more. Some 10.6 million people are in need of urgent assistance in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. In 2019 alone, some 180,000 people were forced to flee their homes, sometimes for a second or third time since the beginning of the crisis. In total, 1.8 million people are internally displaced within Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, of which 80 per cent are women and children.
In 2020, humanitarian organisations working in north-east Nigeria are aiming to provide life-saving aid to 7.8 million people, such as assistance in nutrition, food, shelter, health, education, protection, and water and sanitation sectors. Support will also include early recovery and livelihood interventions and a special attention will be given to addressing the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in north-east Nigeria.
An investment in humanity
The NHF provides an opportunity for donors to pool their contributions to deliver a stronger collective response. It helps in-country relief organizations to reach the most vulnerable people and ensure maximum impact of limited resources:
The NHF is inclusive and promotes partnerships: Funds are directly available to a wide range of relief partners. This includes international, national and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN Agencies and Red Cross/Red Crescent Organizations.
The NHF is timely and flexible: It supports the delivery of an agile response in a fluid emergency.
The NHF is efficient and accountable: It minimizes transaction costs and provides transparency and accountability. Recipient organizations are thoroughly evaluated and relief projects are monitored with regular reporting on achievements.
Coordinated, timely allocations
Under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) in Nigeria, the NHF boosts the response with direct allocations to frontline responders for activities prioritized within the programmatic framework of the Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). This ensures that funding is available and prioritized at the local level by those closest to people in need.
The HC is supported by the Humanitarian Country Team and the NHF Advisory Board. The advisory board includes representatives of donors, national and international NGOs and UN agencies to ensure decisions reflect views from across the humanitarian community.
The NHF is operationally managed by OCHA’s Humanitarian Financing Unit based in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, in the north-east, which ensures that the NHF is managed from the epicentre of the crisis with allocation processes and monitoring close to operational partners and their projects. OCHA’s wider coordination activities on the ground (including needs assessments and common humanitarian planning) also help to ensure effective use of NHF funds.
Like all CBPFs, the NHF is designed to complement other humanitarian funding sources, such as bilateral funding and the Central Emergency Response Fund.
What activities does NHF fund?
The NHF funds activities that have been prioritized as most urgent and strategic to address critical humanitarian needs in close alignment with the 2019-2021 Nigeria Humanitarian Response Strategy (HRS). It funds interventions to support immediate response to the sudden onset of crises or rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the country.
Who is eligible to receive NHF funding?
The NHF is inclusive and promotes partnerships. Funds are directly available to a wide range of relief partners. These partners include national and international NGOs, UN agencies and Red Cross/Red Crescent organizations. Recipient organizations are thoroughly assessed, and projects are monitored with regular reporting on achievements.
NGOs undergo eligibility and capacity assessments to ensure they have the necessary structures and capacity to meet the Fund’s robust accountability standards and efficiently implement humanitarian activities in Nigeria.
Who sets the Fund's priorities?
The Humanitarian Coordinator, in consultation with the NHF Advisory Board and in- formed by the Inter-Sector Working Group (ISWG), decides on the priority needs. Sector co-leads work with their partners to define sector-specific priorities in targeted geographical areas, which are reflected in allocation strategies.
How are projects selected for funding?
Standard Allocations are usually allocated early in the year for projects included in the Nigeria HRP, based on strategies that identify highest priority needs underpinned by vulnerability data and needs analysis. The strategies form the basis for individual project submissions. Project proposals are prioritized and vetted through the sectors (review committees) and recommended to the NHF Advisory Board for endorsement and approval by the Humanitarian Coordinator.
Reserve Allocations are intended to support rapid and flexible allocations of funds in the event of unforeseen emergencies. Reserve allocations are fast-tracked for timely disbursement. These funds can be allocated through individual reserve allocations or broader multi-sector allocations.
There are currently 18 active CBPFs globally. In 2019, these CBPFs allocated more than US$817 million to 708 partners in 18 countries to support 1,390 critical humanitarian projects. More than 70 per cent of the funds were allocated to international or national NGOs.
So far, in 2020, the 18 CBPFs have received contributions from 33 donors for a total of US$713 million, among which $488 million were already allocated to 740 projects in emergencies across the globe (as of 24 September 2020).
Following the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, the UN Secretary-General stressed the critical role of CBPFs, and called on donors to increase the proportion of HRP funding channelled through CBPFs to 15 per cent by 2018. This would translate to close to $2 billion annually.
How country-based pooled funds make your aid truly life-saving: