Evaluations and studies

The CERF secretariat conducts or supports a variety of evaluations and studies that promote transparency, accountability and learning. Regular assessments of the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact of humanitarian financing serve to provide guidance on CERF’s strategic direction and performance.

Examples include formal evaluations mandated by governing bodies, such as the General Assemblystudies commissioned by the CERF secretariat under its Performance and Accountability Framework, and studies commissioned and conducted by third parties that are supported by the CERF secretariat as feasible. 


Studies commissioned by the CERF secretariat

Studies on the added value of a reformed CERF

In a context of increasing humanitarian needs, CERF must ensure that it remains fit for purpose. The fund must continue to provide aid agencies with timely, reliable, and adequate funding for life-saving humanitarian action.

In this context, and encouraged by some of CERF’s strongest supporters in the donor community and among aid agencies, OCHA commissioned two studies to explore how CERF may expand or adapt to reflect a changing humanitarian reality.

The two studies explored different aspects of a possible update of the fund. The ‘strategic study’ examined whether CERF should increase its funding target. The ‘contributions study’ reviewed the possibility of using assessed contributions to the UN for an expanded CERF.

The studies were conducted by independent humanitarian experts: Barnaby Willitts-King with support from Glyn Taylor for the strategic study, Ed Tsui for the contributions study.

The reports present the findings and conclusions of the consultants and are intended to be think-pieces to inform further consultations and research.

Study of CERF and humanitarian donor decision-making

The CERF secretariat commissioned a study of the link between CERF and donor decision-making to better understand the extent to which funding from either the rapid response or underfunded emergencies window influences the direct funding of key donors. The study was carried out by an independent consultant, Tasneem Mowjee, with Lydia Poole conducting the financial analysis.

Based on 17 interviews with representatives from 13 donor countries and the OECD, as well as a document review and an analysis of funding flows, the study concludes that donors tend to take account of CERF funding when looking at the overall amounts of funding to a given crisis, although they do not consider CERF funding as a criterion in itself. CERF allows some donors, especially smaller ones, to concentrate their resources on a small number of crises but reach other crises by supporting the CERF.

Independent review of the Underfunded Emergency window

In an effort to continually review and improve its processes and based on a recommendation of the General Assembly-mandated five-year evaluation of CERF, the CERF committed in 2012 to conduct research to identify potential alternatives or improved methods to select participating countries for biannual Underfunded Emergencies (UFE) allocations. This included an assessment of their costs and benefits, as well as ways to improve understanding of UFE procedures and outcomes at field level. For this, the CERF commissioned an independent review of the UFE process.

The main purpose of the study was to review the current methodology used for country selection and apportionment and identify potential alternative or improved methods. The review provided the ERC and CERF secretariat with sufficient analysis of the current method and costs and benefits of proposed alternative or improved methods to decide whether modifications to the current guidelines and practice associated with the Underfunded Window are required. The review was undertaken by two independent consultants between May and November 2012.


Studies commissioned by third parties

Evaluation of WFP's use of pooled funds

Following the CERF Advisory Groups recommendations to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General in December 2011, CERF continues to encourage independent evaluations and reviews of CERF-funded activities by recipient UN agencies.

In response, the WFP Executive Board requested an evaluation of WFP’s use of pooled funds for humanitarian preparedness and response, which included the CERF and country-based pooled funds. Between 2009 and 2013, CERF contributed $825 million to WFP, making WFP the largest CERF recipient. The evaluation finds that pooled funds are “a positive addition to overall humanitarian funding arrangements” and that the “CERF rapid response window was seen to facilitate rapid response.” The main value of pooled funds is their relative timeliness, predictability and that funding is at least partially additional. The evaluation argues for keeping CERF’s sharp focus on life-saving humanitarian action.

WFP has formulated a management response to the evaluation and works with the CERF secretariat to address the recommendations.

The WFP evaluation follows similar studies by FAOIOM, and UNHCR.

See the evaluation report and other documents on the WFP website or download the full report (PDF).

Review of UNHCR's utilisation of the CERF

Following the CERF Advisory Groups recommendations to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General in December 2011, CERF continues to encourage independent evaluations and reviews of CERF-funded activities by recipient UN agencies.

In 2014, UNHCR commissioned an independent consultant, Andy Featherstone, to review the agency's use of CERF.Between 2006 and March 2014, CERF has contributed almost $400 million to UNHCR, making CERF an increasingly important source of funding for UNHCR to respond to emergencies. The review finds that CERF is considered to be unique in its speed and predictability, and that UNHCR performs extremely well in the speed of disbursing sub-grants to implementing partners for CERF-funded activities. UNHCR has benefitted significantly from CERF funding and has enabled effective CERF prioritization, disbursement, and implementation.

The UNHCR review follows similar studies by FAO and IOM.

IOM evaluation of CERF-funded interventions

Following the CERF Advisory Groups recommendations to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General in December 2011, CERF continues to encourage independent evaluations and reviews of CERF-funded activities by recipient UN agencies and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), along the lines of the evaluation by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of its use of CERF funds (2006-2009).

At a meeting with the CERF Secretariat in December 2011, IOM agreed to carry out an internal evaluation during 2012, under the overall responsibility of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of IOM. CERF funds have supported a highly diversified portfolio of projects within the field of IOM humanitarian interventions and the evaluation is intended to provide a thematic, strategic and operational analysis of IOM’s use of CERF, examining the use of the Fund over the six year period between June 2006 and June 2012.

The evaluation aims to identify if, when and why CERF funding has played a critical role in ensuring that IOM could deliver its humanitarian interventions in rapid response, in under-funded emergencies and in its leading role for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) for populations displaced by natural disasters, and IOM’s specific success criteria in accordance with the Organization’s mandate, in addition to CERF`s stated specific objectives and success criteria.

Evaluation of FAO interventions funded by CERF

In 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) completed an evaluation of CERF-funded projects implemented by FAO from 2006 to 2009.  This is the first time an agency has engaged in such an exercise and will contribute to the General Assembly mandated five-year evaluation of CERF which has just commenced.  The evaluation intends to contribute to improved relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of emergency activities carried out by FAO with CERF funding.  

The stated aim of the report is to provide feedback and guidance to FAO’s management on operational processes, constraints and projects achievements, to account for the use of CERF funds to the CERF Secretariat, the ERC, donors, governments of countries affected by crises and other stakeholders. Since the inception of CERF, CERF has provided over US$166 million in funding to FAO projects.  

The total number of projects covered in the evaluation is 28, approximately one fifth of the 160 CERF-funded projects implemented by FAO from 2006 to 2009. The evaluation demonstrates that the CERF has enhanced FAO’s response capacity over the past five years by providing reliable, rap id and predictable funding, which has helped save lives and restores livelihoods in crisis situations.

FAO study of the CERF-red locust project

In May 2009, CERF contributed nearly US$2 million to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) regional project for Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi which allowed for aerial survey and operations to be quickly and effectively expanded for locust control.

The specific objective of the regional CERF project was to mitigate the chances of swarms leaving the outbreak areas by strengthening the response capacity of IRLCO-CSA and the national plant protection agencies in Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique to effectively cope with developing Red Locust threats with special attention to the safeguard of human and environment health.

In September 2009, FAO concluded an evaluation of the project. Evaluators concluded that the CERF responded swiftly to the request for emergency funding from FAO/IRLCO-CSA and that ultimately, the objective of the CERF project was essentially achieved in that there were no swarm escapes from any of the potential outbreak areas; threats to national and regional food security were minimized, and an estimated 598,000 hectors of food crops were protected in Tanzania alone.