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Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP): Mid-Year Review of the Humanitarian Appeal 2007

Originally published


Fifteen common humanitarian action plans for the world's most severe crises are at the halfway point of their timeline. This Mid-Year Review is the occasion to reconsider strategies and outline some of the innumerable achievements made possible by funding requested in consolidated appeals. To mention but a few, humanitarian organisations have increased the supply of potable water for internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in northern Uganda (Kitgum, Pader, Gulu/Amuru, and Lira) by 50%; boosted measles vaccination coverage in war-torn parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo from 66.3% in 2006 to 100% in 2007 (Uvira) and from 51.5% to more than 85% (Walikale); supplied seeds and tools to 37,000 households whose farming was disrupted by conflict in Côte d'Ivoire; assisted 15,000 Liberians to voluntarily repatriate from Côte d'Ivoire; provided emergency education to 62,000 refugee children through 573 primary school classrooms and 116 preschool classrooms across 12 refugee camps in Chad; de-mined six million square metres of land and 1,068 km of road in Sudan; and implemented logistics and coordination for these concerted efforts in the world's most challenging environments. But coverage of humanitarian needs is far from complete. Funding at mid-year amounts to 43% of requirements; and while this is a slight improvement on the mid-point of previous years, many urgent actions continue to await donor support. The US$ 2.5 billion (1) still required amounts to only a few cents for every hundred dollars of national income among the largest economies.

The humanitarian community faces challenges other than funding constraints. Security obstacles persist, in countries such as Sudan, Somalia and the occupied Palestinian territories, to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. The spread of humanitarian emergencies across international borders continues (for example among Sudan, Chad, and the Central African Republic), necessitating strong contingency planning and flexible response capacity by teams in neighbouring countries. Conflict, instability and armed violence tend to spill over not only within regions, but also across them: the Somalia crisis, accompanied by the spread of light weapons, has repercussions throughout the Horn of Africa and even in the Great Lakes region. Crises of protection have no clear resolution: peacekeeping is only successful when all parties to a conflict cooperate, while the unarmed protection efforts of humanitarians are unable to prevent the targeting of civilians. Global humanitarian capacity (and that of governments) is almost certain to be tested by increasing incidence and severity of natural disasters resulting from climate change and a concurrent increase in the vulnerability of populations. The role of humanitarian action in slow-onset crises such as drought and food insecurity is not clearly defined: joint approaches bridging humanitarian and development assistance are clearly required, given that only long-term assistance can address the root causes of these crises, while humanitarian action is mandatory when people fall into acute need.

The humanitarian system has internal challenges as well. Action is proceeding on several fronts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of coordinated humanitarian response. Better sectoral leadership and capacity are emerging, linked directly to the implementation of the cluster approach. Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) are acquiring a stronger leadership role and a higher level of accountability in each crisis. Partnerships among United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other international organisations are being reinforced. Innovative financing mechanisms, combined with a better-coordinated performance by donor governments per their commitments in the Good Humanitarian Donorship Initiative, aim to deliver support predictably, equitably, and fully, where and when it is needed. A renewed effort to make needs analysis more rigorous and comprehensive is making strategic plans stronger and should eventually make funding requests more firmly justifiable. Finally, agencies are committed to conducting real-time evaluations and adopting the best practices identified therein.

These consolidated appeals or CAPs – comprising 1,838 projects proposed by 230 NGOs, United Nations agencies, and other national and international organisations – are the humanitarian system's chief method for working together in crises that require the joined efforts of all agencies on the ground. They must be more than the sum of their parts, and the consolidated appeal process is the main forum to achieve this. CAPs are evolving with the humanitarian system, reflecting the reforms outlined above, continually adopting new practices and innovations. They are a compact among people in need, organisations positioned to help, and donors entrusted with funds to mitigate crises worldwide, who together must achieve the best available protection and assistance, on time. The following pages describe some of the efforts under way to improve the practice of consolidated appeals and of humanitarian action in general, examine funding to date in 2007, and highlight the situation at mid-year in each crisis with a consolidated appeal.

CAP 2007: Unmet funding requirements


CAPs epitomise the best the humanitarian system has to offer, yet also mirror its shortcomings. There is a continual effort to improve the process and results, to which the ongoing humanitarian reform has added momentum. The following section outlines some key concerns about the CAP as well as recent measures to address them.

Improving the Accuracy of Appeal Funding Requirements

The requirements, or funding targets, presented in appeals derive from a compilation of detailed activities with itemised costs, aggregated to an overall target per appeal. This method has two purposes: first, to facilitate the equitable allocation of funds across the totality of identified humanitarian needs in a crisis; second, to justify each funding request and spell out its expected outcomes. However, many donors consider the overall price tag of most CAPs to be unreliable, and therefore challenge the notion that they should be held accountable for fully funding CAPs (2). Since a CAP's funding target is composed of costs of individual projects, the answer must lie in the projects. Several explanations have been put forward: a proposed project may not be based on need, or the needs identified may be more recovery-related than humanitarian; it may overstate the number of people in need; it may be over-budgeted; it may be infeasible for the organisation proposing it; or it may duplicate other proposed projects, inside or outside the CAP. All projects selected for inclusion in a humanitarian appeal are in principle vetted by the sector or cluster leads, backstopped by the HC, to ensure that they meet the minimum criteria of relevance, feasibility, economical budgeting, and non-duplication. In reality however, in the wide-ranging consultation process that underlies the CAP, vetting may not always be thorough enough. Humanitarian reform will lead to a gradual strengthening of the HC function as well as cluster responsibilities, which is likely to produce more systematic vetting of projects to be included in the CAP. The role of the HC in reinforcing good CAP project selection by the clusters should be supported by all stakeholders (3).

It is also sometimes argued that 'projects,' as a way of itemising humanitarian funding needs within a crisis, contain some disincentives to reliability. Also, a catalogue of projects may unwittingly reinforce the tradition of earmarking humanitarian funds – a tradition of which donors themselves are critical, as their Good Humanitarian Donorship objective is instead to make funds flexible and allow agencies to allocate money within and between countries (4). Yet appeal funding requirements must be itemised somehow, to allow detailed verification and updating. An interesting innovation is the appeal for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There, the country team has switched to a practice of assessing needs per sector and district, and estimating the cost of assistance to meet those needs in the current year. These itemised costs take the place of 'projects' (which after all are merely another way of itemising appeal costs). At the same time, this model retains the benefit of presenting donors with an overall price tag that they should use to guide their funding allocation for the crisis. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and donors are monitoring this appeal closely to determine if it actually solves the problem of unjustified funding requests.

There is no unified practice as to how exclusive the projects selected for CAPs should be. To what extent should CAP be restricted to 'core humanitarian' or directly 'life-saving” interventions, as opposed to broader activities such as restoring health, safety, dignity, and livelihoods? Humanitarian reform, with its emphasis on early recovery as part of humanitarian action, shows that the definition of humanitarian action is expanding. However, if humanitarian actors are to carry out a broader range of interventions, these interventions should be properly prioritised. Humanitarian agencies have an obligation to state the totality of humanitarian needs, even if the prospect of full CAP funding is unrealistic; but part of that obligation is to ensure that the most urgent projects be funded and carried out first. The adoption of a prioritisation scheme is therefore an essential part of the country team's job. Donors alone cannot be expected to decide which projects are ideal to match the strategic priorities in the CHAP. Nor can donors collectively achieve an optimal funding outcome in coordination with each other, unless the country team has done the groundwork of prioritising among projects proposed by agencies.

What is Counted in Appeal Requirements: Transition / Recovery

The scope of appeals is linked to the question of transition or recovery. In the absence of a transitional appeal mechanism (5), consolidated humanitarian appeals will continue to contain some recovery elements. The distinction between 'recovery' and 'early recovery' is not formally defined, but a working definition might be that early recovery is those activities that can and should be implemented even during the acute phases of a crisis – after all, hardly any crises are so chaotic that no element of recovery can commence. Also, it is common for a chronic crisis to require both urgent short-term responses to acute humanitarian needs, and simultaneously more sustained recovery efforts that address the causal factors. Therefore, while CAPs can be expected to contain recovery activities, the question is how much recovery should they contain, and how should it be presented. Some 2007 appeals are now segmented between emergency relief and transitional support, for example Timor-Leste (as of its Mid-Year Review) and Zimbabwe. In both appeals, each project is flagged as belonging to one or the other pillar (though the sectoral strategies naturally integrate both approaches), so as to clearly signal to donors which are the most urgent projects. Results are mixed: the Zimbabwe 2007 CAP is 51% funded overall at mid-year, with projects in the emergency relief pillar 76% funded and those in the transitional support pillar 24% funded. However, funding for the emergency relief pillar excluding the food sector (which constitutes three-quarters of its requirements and seven-eighths of its funding) is only 31%. So donors are following the appeal's signposting of the most urgent package of projects to a limited extent, but adequate support is not available for the two types of needs that exist simultaneously, as spelled out in the CHAP. Nonetheless, other appeals could use this simple step to clarify the overall set of needs in a given country, and clearly identify the emergency needs.

In some flash appeals, the inclusion of broad ranges of recovery projects has similarly been perceived to obscure the most urgent aspects of the response. Donors are doubtful that recovery needs can be assessed, and coordinated with host governments, within the timeframe of issuing a flash appeal (a few days). It is also a donor concern whether recovery projects can be well implemented in the six-month planning horizon of most flash appeals. In reality, flash appeals have taken the burden of recovery planning and fundraising by default – for lack of a transitional or recovery appeal mechanism. Also, one can argue that if 'early recovery' by definition should be initiated during the acute phase, then flash appeals should include early recovery proposals. This begs the question of what kinds of projects constitute early recovery, and what kind can be assessed and implemented within the short flash appeal timeframe. The Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery and the IASC CAP Sub-working Group have drafted some guidance on this, which is currently under discussion with donors before finalisation. Thereafter, early recovery in flash appeals will consist of types of projects that donors have already indicated that they find appropriate in general – thus hopefully removing a long-standing source of contention. Also, most early recovery project proposals are likely to await the revised edition of a flash appeal, typically launched about a month after the original when better information is available.

Enhancing NGO Inclusion in CAPs

Out of 1,838 projects in the 2007 consolidated and flash appeals, 620 projects or 34% are NGO projects. Many country teams used the 2007 Mid-year Review as an occasion to retroactively count projects that have received funding but were not originally listed in the CAP. The criteria for such inclusion is that the projects are consistent with the strategic priorities outlined in the CAP, and that they are planned and implemented in a coordinated way. Consequently, CAPs are giving more visibility to NGOs and their donors, and becoming better funding barometers for the individual crises. The IASC encourages this practice, in order to better measure total funding against total needs. In general, country teams and cluster leads should ensure that humanitarian project proposals by NGOs are included in CAPs from the outset, in a similar way to United Nations agency and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) projects. This also entails giving NGOs equal space in the substantive discussions at cluster level and country-team level, for it is in these fora that joint needs analysis and strategic priorities are decided.

Needs Analysis and Strategic Monitoring

Among 2007 CAPs, the Needs Analysis Framework (NAF) was used fully or partially for five countries (6). Full needs analysis documents were published for Côte d'Ivoire and the occupied Palestinian territories. Others used the NAF for certain sectors, or used locally-derived variants. The IASC aims to use the NAF in all CAP countries for 2008. An updated and re-formatted version of the NAF guidelines was circulated in French and English in June 2007, following inputs from global cluster leads, and field trainings on the NAF are being held in at least five countries.

The NAF is a comprehensive guide to stimulate reflection on root causes and to enhance understanding of the interaction of needs in different sectors. It facilitates an inclusive review of needs by the country team and identifies key gaps in data. It does not give a numerical score or rank for the scale and severity of each crisis, nor for sectors or geographical areas within. Rather, it is a narrative format in which judgement must be applied to the data at every step. Complementary efforts are under way to develop mapping and scoring systems (with supporting information management) that allow comparison among crises and prioritisation of response within crises. While these tools will take some years to fully develop, the final result will be a needs assessment system that has analytical richness and enables clear comparisons.

Meanwhile, good practice is advancing on the ground in the greater use of participatory approaches to identifying needs. In Chad, for example, the recent IDP response package took full account of the needs identified by IDPs themselves.

Efforts to achieve more comprehensive and rigorous needs analysis should be accompanied by better monitoring of each humanitarian situation, of progress in implementing planned actions, and of beneficiary impact. Statistics such as those on page v suggest the potential of standard monitoring schemes that can serve to identify the most severe crises (as donors are increasingly doing independently) and, with continual information gathering, to measure the effectiveness of each response. Appeals increasingly include measurable objectives and indicators at the strategic and sector-specific level; and while monitoring and reporting on these indicators continue to be incomplete in several of this year's Mid-Year Reviews, best practice is emerging. The Mid-Year Reviews for the DRC and Uganda, for example, are particularly clear about actions implemented to date compared to objectives – thanks perhaps in part to their adoption of the cluster approach.


(1) All dollar figures in this document denote United States dollars.

(2) In fact from 2002 through 2006, aggregate CAP funding, though greatly varying in absolute terms, showed uncanny consistency in proportion to requirements: between 64% and 67% each year except 2003, whose aggregate was raised by heavy funding for Iraq.

(3) It may be advisable for the ultimate decision on inclusion of projects to lay with agencies, to prevent agencies' own programmes and appeals differing from those included in consolidated appeals.

(4) Earmarking generally means a contractual condition between donor and recipient organisation specifying the use of granted funds, for example broadly to the level of region or country, or more narrowly to the level of project or activity

(5) A long-running process to develop a transitional or recovery appeal mechanism achieved a milestone in early 2007, with the publication of a Guidance Note on Transitional Appeals, by the UNDG-ECHA Working Group on Transition. Many next steps remain to operationalise transitional appeals, but the prospect of such appeals promises to relieve CAPs of a major burden.

(6) Côte d'Ivoire, the DRC, occupied Palestinian territories, Republic of Congo, Uganda.

Table of Contents





- Improving the Accuracy of Appeal Funding Requirements

- What's Counted in Appeal Requirements: Transition / Recovery

- Enhancing NGO Inclusion in CAPs

- Needs Analysis and Strategic Monitoring


- Donor Response To Cluster Appeal, & Implementation Of Global Cluster Leadership


- Common Humanitarian Funds, piloted in DRC and Sudan





Central African Republic
Côte d'Ivoire
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Great Lakes Region
occupied Palestinian territories
Republic of Congo
West Africa

Other humanitarian plans

Sri Lanka


Note: The full text of this appeal is available on-line in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format and may also be downloaded in zipped MS Word format.

Full Original Mid-Year Review [pdf* format] [zipped MS Word format]
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