How OCHA's pooled funds are helping to contain COVID-19

On 25 March 2020, the UN and its partners have launched a US$ 2 billion global humanitarian appeal to respond to COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. Since then, OCHA’s pooled funds have been at the forefront of channeling resources to fight the pandemic. Together, they have provided US$164 million across 36 countries, helping humanitarians mobilize and reach people most in need.

Covid pooled funds

Credit: OCHA/Dita Anggraeni

With two global allocations, CERF has released a total of $95 million to kick-start efforts by helping to contain the spread of the virus, maintaining supply chains, and providing assistance and protection to the most vulnerable people, including women and girls, refugees and internally displaced persons. Maximum flexibility has been granted to all recipients in the use of CERF funding, within the parameters of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), to ensure a time-critical response with the greatest possible impact.

A large portion of this funding is supporting the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in maintaining essential air services to facilitate the critical movement of humanitarians and maintain supply chains of life-saving cargo so that humanitarian operations can continue and aid workers are equipped to respond to the humanitarian consequences of COVID-19. 


At Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, an aircraft is being loaded with humanitarian supplies. Credit: WFP/Edward Johnson  

CERF is also supporting preparedness efforts, for example in Nigeria’s Borno State, where funding is enabling the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to build 90 quarantine spaces for potential individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. These efforts will help to decrease the risk of an outbreak in the densely populated camps and host communities. 


In Borno State, Nigeria, quarantine spaces are being constructed to strengthen epidemic preparedness. Credit: IOM Nigeria

The Country-based Pooled Funds (CBPF) are supporting efforts to fight the pandemic through emergency allocations and reprogramming of preexisting projects. As of 25 April, twelve funds have allocated a total of $69 million in response to the disease, supporting preparedness, community engagement, access to emergency health care and the delivery of essential services such as food, cash and medical equipment.

Some 51 percent of the funding will be granted directly to NGOs, leveraging their knowledge and access to best help those in need. CBPF have also introduced temporary arrangements that will specifically benefit national NGOs: The flexibility guidance will allow greater flexibility and new measures in the use of CBPF funding as implementing partners adapt to the new environment and are in need of tailored operational modalities.

One of these partners is the national NGO  Al-Birr & Al-Ihsan from Syria. In rural Aleppo, they have set up mobile medical clinics with funding from the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF) where medical doctors are providing urgent health care and teach preventive COVID-19 measures to communities in need.


In Aleppo, Syria, patients are waiting to see the medical doctor at one of the mobile clinics operated by the NGO Al-Birr & Al-Ihsan. Credits: Al-Birr & Al-Ihsan

Humanitarian organizations continue to work hard to reach people most in need, both with specific COVID-19 assistance but also to continue their life-saving work for some 117 million women, men and children caught in conflict, poverty and climate-related emergencies.The combined funding from CERF and CBPF has been vital in kick-starting, scaling up or sustaining these urgent efforts.

This support would have not been possible without the fast and generous contributions to the pooled funds from: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, Cypris, Denmark, Estonia, European Commission, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland,  Japan, Jersey, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Qatar, Basque Agency for Development Cooperation and Belgian Government of Flanders.

All latest information on CERF and CBPF funding for COVID-19 is available in real-time via