Today marks the first anniversary of a landmark United Nations fund which has significantly reduced the time in which aid is delivered to those most in need, and to date, $376.1 million has been distributed in 40 countries through almost 400 projects, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced.
The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), managed by OCHA, was established last year to speed up relief operations for humanitarian emergencies and make funds available quickly after a disaster, when people are at most risk. Previously, it took up to four months for funds to reach areas affected by disasters.
CERF funding for aid programmes is made available within 72 hours in emergencies such as the armed conflicts in Lebanon and Timor-Leste, allowing UN agencies on the ground to provide immediate assistance.
“I welcome all that the CERF has accomplished in the last year, and look forward to consolidating and furthering this progress as the Fund continues to evolve,” said John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
To date, $214.2 million has been disbursed to aid to emergency situations, while $161.9 was provided for underfunded crises to reverse imbalances in global aid distribution which result in millions suffering in so-called neglected or forgotten crises.
Financed by voluntary contributions, 73 partners – Member States, local governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector – have thus far contributed $399.4 million to CERF.
A majority of CERF grants have been for natural disaster responses. For example, Afghanistan received $32.3 million to address needs arising from the drought and security situation.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the largest recipient of CERF funds so far, “often struggles with breaks in the food pipeline for its beneficiaries, sometimes in genuinely difficult environments like Darfur,” said the agency’s Executive Director, James Morris. “We always welcome new avenues to receive support and appreciate donations through the CERF.”
As CERF enters its second year, it seeks to expand its donor base, broaden partnerships through UN inter-agency cooperation and provide equitable balance to neglected emergencies. The Fund also seeks to increase benefits to NGOs, and CERF will utilize the results of an internal evaluation this year to identify areas in which it can improve.