On 12 February 2019, during a Member State briefing for the launch of the 2019 Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan, ASG Ursula Mueller announced the establishment of the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF). "We are establishing an innovative funding mechanism to support the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan efforts - the Ukraine Humanitarian Pooled Fund - to address acute needs that are least funded", ASG Mueller said at the briefing, welcoming initial donor contributions.
Purpose, Objectives and Added Value
The UHF is a pooled fund intended to support coordinated humanitarian action, in line with the Humanitarian Response Plan, and to address some of the most critical needs, which are of strategic priority and which would otherwise would go unfunded. The UHF will allow donors to pool their contributions into single, unearmarked funds to support local humanitarian efforts, which will, in turn, not only enable a coordinated, flexible and inclusive humanitarian response, but also strategically maximise available resources.
The Humanitarian Coordinator’s decision to establish the UHF was underpinned by the commitment on the Grand Bargain and the challenging funding landscape due to the protracted yet active armed conflict where NGOs, in particularly, are struggling to access funding despite the added value they bring to the response. The Fund will facilitate an agile humanitarian response, which can respond to changing access conditions and allow the most critical needs to be met. The UHF will allow us to create a more efficient response – targeting underfunded humanitarian needs which are critical to the overall impact of the operation. The UHF will also allow us to strengthen coordination, and the role of the Humanitarian Coordinator, and to ensure a principled response, strengthening our access to people in need, particularly along the contact line and in NGCA. The UHF can also support the localization agenda by empowering local responders and providing funding to NGOs.
The HC in Ukraine, Ms. Osnat Lubrani, has expressed her vision for the Fund, noting the importance for it to support innovative approaches to reach conflict affected communities and to be an ‘adaptive’ mechanism – one that will be open to finding diverse and creative solutions to challenges in the operational context and flexible as access conditions evolve. The Fund will enable the humanitarian community to achieve results in a fluid security situation, along the ‘contact line’ and in NGCA.
The Humanitarian Fund can support the mobilization of additional funding, enabling new and diverse donors to respond in Ukraine. The Fund presents an optimal solution for donors unable to directly fund or assess implementing partners due to lack of appropriate accountability mechanisms in place.
Donor Consultations and Support
The creation of the UHF follows consultations with several key in-country stakeholders during a scoping mission in September 2018 by OCHA’s Country Based Pooled Fund Section. The scoping mission found that the humanitarian action in Ukraine is conducive to the establishment of a country based pooled fund. Several important pre-conditions to support it are in place, including a functioning IASC humanitarian architecture, an annual Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), national and sub-national coordination mechanisms, and access in both government (GCA) and non-government-controlled area (NGCA), albeit to a lesser extent in the latter. The UHF will support rigorously prioritized humanitarian action in alignment with the Humanitarian Response Plan, thereby supporting the Humanitarian-Development Nexus (HDN).
Donors have expressed strong interest in and support for the fund, including the European Commission Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), Sweden, Germany, France, Lithuania, Norway, Estonia and the United Kingdom. As of February 2019, key donors’ pledges and commitments totalling around $2.3 million have been received. Although the initial capitalisation is relatively small, it will allow the establishment of the UHF and support to further build confidence among other donors on the value of such a Fund.
Management of the Fund
The Humanitarian Financing Unit (HFU) will operate under the overall management of the OCHA Head of Office and will ensure the day-to-day functioning of the Fund. It is proposed that the HFU will be composed of a Pooled Fund Manager, a Finance Officer, and an M&E Officer. As per OCHA’s policy on direct costing of HFUs, the Fund Manager will prepare annually, and through the Head of Office submit, a formal project proposal for the HFU to the HC.
The UHF will seek to ensure streamlined, efficient and coherent humanitarian action under the empowered leadership of the HC and cluster system. It will allow for:
- Robust use of the strategic and operational priorities outlined in the HRP, focusing particularly on NGCA and the areas close to the ‘contact line’.
- Increased alignment of funding to areas of operational priority - both geographical and activity-wise – thereby ensuring that the overall operation is optimized in its impact.
- Strengthened efforts to enhance the operational access, profiling and outreach of NGOs to diversify and increase operational response capacity and coverage.
- The delivery of an agile and timely response – including by providing an opportunity for early action.
- An effective and efficient use of resources by minimizing transaction costs and providing accountability and transparency with partners thoroughly assessed and projects monitored with reporting on achievements.