cerf secretariat briefs african union missions in geneva on use and management of the fund
Dita Anggraeni

Creating synergies to tackle famine: CERF and CBPF discuss recent success at ECOSOC 2017 in Geneva

Claudia Hargarten

Representatives of the global humanitarian community met in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday 23 June to find ways to better leverage UN humanitarian Pooled Funds to advance the commitments of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS).

“With a record 130 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, the need for us to deliver against those commitments is greater than ever,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, when he opened the ECOSOC Humanitarian Segment side-event titled “Meeting Urgent Humanitarian Needs: the UN Humanitarian Pooled Funds in the Post WHS era.

Mr. O’Brien asked panelists and audience members to consider how the Central Emergency Response Fund CERF and Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) have helped the humanitarian community accelerate important WHS reforms such as the “Grand Bargain”.

Before turning to the panel, Mr. O’Brien introduced a short video message from H.E. Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany who lauded the funds’ life-saving qualities and underscored his confidence in CERF with the announcement of another $10 million contribution to the fund (brining contributions from Germany to both mechanisms in 2017 to some $95 million). “Together, CERF and the CBPFs strengthen the ability of the UN to coordinate international humanitarian assistance and to save lives, even under the most difficult circumstances. Let’s work together to provide them with their financial means they need to live up to their full potential.” H. E. Gabriel noted in his statement.

A panel, featuring Mr. Jürgen Schulz, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations and Vice-President of ECOSOC Mr. Eugene Owusu, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UN Resident Coordinator, and Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of UNDP in South Sudan; Mr. Amir Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director of the WFP; and Mr. James Keah Ninrew, Executive Director, Universal Intervention and Development Organization South Sudan, then highlighted the important role of both funding mechanisms by considering recent experiences from the emergency response in four countries facing famine: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

Mr. Owusu highlighted the role of the funds in strengthening collective humanitarian response and said “The value of pooled funds far exceeds their monetary sums. Each donor to a pooled fund – be it CERF, or a country-based pooled fund such as the South Sudan Humanitarian fund (SSHF) – can categorically say that they are helping to drive forward the realization of the Grand Bargain in the field, where such reforms truly save lives.”

Mr. Abdulla stressed the importance ensuring that CERF and CBPFs quickly achieve their new funding targets (US$1 billion annually for CERF and 15 per cent of Humanitarian Response Plan Funding for CBPFs): “These reinforced tools could be used to greater effect in large-scale, protracted emergencies and bring efficiency gains, which will benefit all, especially the people we are assisting.”

Highlighting the important work of national non-governmental organizations (NNGOs) in the delivery of assistance in South Sudan, Mr. Nirew stressed the importance of direct access to the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund and highlighted the inclusiveness of CERF and CBPF decision-making process: “Having a seat at the table means that [NGOs] are truly partners. It means we have a say in which sector gets the most funding and which geographic areas should be prioritized. And it means that our voices are valued and heard.”

A rich discussion with the audience followed with important questions raised on how use of the funds can be improved further to deliver the Grand Bargain and how to ensure that both funding mechanism can achieve their new targets.

A full report on the event and panelist statements will be made available here: ECOSOC - Pooled Funds - 2017