Annual report of the UN emergency fund

30/07/2010 // Last year, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) supported 466 projects in 51 countries. Norway contributed with about USD 43 million, or 11% of the total, according to CERF’s annual report that has just been published.

Internally displaced people in the Darfur region of Sudan. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Internally displaced people in the Darfur region of Sudan. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

In all, a total of USD 400 million from the emergency fund were spent.

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was established in 2005 in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami. For the first time since its creation, more money went to conflict driven needs, than to those arising from natural disasters. USD 60 million, or about 15 % of the funds, was allocated to Somalia, while about USD 30 million went to the Democratic Republic of Congo and USD 23.5 million to Sri Lanka.

The emergency fund has two financing mechanisms: one for rapid response, where the money should be made available within one day following an application from a UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, and another for underfunded emergencies. Two thirds of the funds is allocated to rapid response efforts and a third to underfunded emergencies. Examples of the latter which got CERF-support in 2009 were the drought in Syria and food shortage and disease prevention in North Korea. Norway is a considerable donor, and the UNs emergency fund is the most important channel for financing so-called forgotten crises.

UN-organisations and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are the only ones who can use money from the Fund. But many non-governmental organisations are engaged in a second stage to implement humanitarian projects. The UN-organisation which received the most money from the emergency fund in 2009 was the World Food Program (WFP), followed by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Food was the most important sector for CERF-aid, receiving USD 127 million in support.

Despite the fact that CERF received USD 50 million less in 2009 than the previous year, the payments as calculated in national currencies were record high. The difference was caused by a high exchange rate for the dollar. There is therefore no reason to believe that the support for CERF is waning. Another indication is that the number of countries supporting CERF is increasing. In 2009 a total of 116 countries contributed, that’s 21 more than the previous year.

The biggest donor in 2009 was the United Kingdom, followed by the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Norway. Norway contributed USD 43 million, or 11% of CERF’s 2009 payments.

The response time in 2009 was under five days for underfunded emergencies and three days for rapid response efforts. That’s the same as 2008. The emergency fund’s Advisory Group has requested that CERF take on a Performance and Accountability Framework in order to ensure a clearer and more evidence-based assessment of CERF’s added value.

Source: Norway Mission to the UN

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