The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Haiti

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On 13 January 2010, the morning after the catastrophic earthquake, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced an allocation of $10 million for emergency response. Since 2006, CERF has allocated nearly $39 million for humanitarian response in Haiti.

Haiti is the sort of international aid "orphan" the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was created to help. In 2003, a humanitarian appeal for Haiti received only 38 percent of the $14 million required to adequately meet the life-saving needs in Haiti. Since the Fund became operational in 2006, Haiti has received emergency funding each year, some $25.9 million in total. With $16 million received from CERF to help combat the effects of natural disasters and the food crisis in 2008, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere was the sixth-largest recipient of CERF funding. The humanitarian appeal for Haiti, launched in September 2008, received 59 percent of the $121 million funding required. CERF was the fourth-largest source of funding (after U.S., U.K. and ECHO) for that appeal.

What has CERF funding achieved in Haiti?

2009: $5 million in CERF funding helped at least 900,000 people

- Some 840,000 people received food aid through a $3.5 million allocation to a $93 million World Food Programme (WFP) operation to feed vulnerable groups such as malnourished children and pregnant women.

- Some 100,000 people, the entire population of Gonaives, benefited from a $500,000 CERF allocation toward a $4 million UNDP project to dredge gutters in the city that is still reeling from the effects of last year's storms as this year's rainy season sets in.

- 100,000 people had access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities through a $2.5 million dollar UNICEF programme, kick-started by a $500,000 CERF allocation.

- Nearly 30,000 more were helped by $500,000 in CERF funding for UNICEF, UNFPA and IOM to implement protection programmes totaling $1.1 million that, for example, combated violence against women.

2008: $16 million in CERF funding helped more than 1 million people

- 200,000 people received food aid through a $3.3 million allocation to a $25.4 million WFP operation to help people cope with price spikes that doubled the cost of staple foods in Haiti.

- 30,000 farmers received seeds and tools to plant summer crops to prevent food shortages through a $2.5 million CERF allocation towards a $15 million Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project.

- 800,000 people, many of whom had been cut off from aid when hurricanes damaged roads, received food assistance from a WFP logistics programme made possible by a $3.5 million CERF grant that paid for the heavy-lift helicopters and boats used to ship the food.

2007: $3.9 million in CERF funding helped some 800,000 people

- Some 640,000 people received basic medical care including vitamin A as well as vaccinations against diphtheria, measles and polio through a $9.5 million World Health Organization (WHO) programme supported by $500,000 in CERF funding.

- 2,000 boys and girls in Port-au-Prince's most violent neighborhoods benefited from a UNICEF programme that returned hundreds of children to school and paid for the training of 60 staff in emergency child protection. The programme received $390,000 in CERF funding.

- 158 trafficked children were returned to their families, while their parents received training and micro-grants for employment opportunities through a $220,000 IOM programme, which was funded entirely by CERF.

2006: $1 million in CERF funding helped some 200,000 people

- Approximately 200,000 people in a Port-au-Prince slum gained access to clean water through a WHO programme to rehabilitate 2.5 km of water pipes supported by $500,000 in CERF funding.

- Some 50,000 shanty town residents were protected from flooding and landslides through the construction of stone walls made possible by a $270,000 CERF grant to IOM.

Background about CERF

In 2005, in the context of a slow response to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the overwhelming response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, the United Nations undertook a major reform of the humanitarian system. At that time, CERF was upgraded from a $50 million loan facility to a include $450 million grant facility, which is replenished annually. For years, the world would too often witness vulnerable people receiving-or not receiving-assistance based on geopolitical considerations, levels of media coverage, and the amount of resources available to aid groups. This system was no system at all, but rather a lottery that countries like Haiti could win or lose, with life or death consequences.

The Fund can now be used to provide urgently-needed funds within the first few hours of a sudden onset crisis, jump-starting operations when most lives are lost, or saved. This is done through the Fund's "rapid response window". The CERF has demonstrated its ability to serve as an equalizer, acting like a hedge against imbalances in funding among appeals and among sectors. One-third of CERF funding each year goes through its "underfunded emergencies window", through which poorly-financed, but urgently-needed humanitarian programmes around the world are supported.

The Fund is also smarter and more flexible than other funding mechanisms, as allocations are based on requests coming from the humanitarian workers on the ground, closest to the needs. Funds can then be targeted to a wide range of programmes, so long as they are life-saving and time-critical. Since its inception, more than 100 Member States have contributed some $2 billion to CERF, which has allocated more than $1.4 billion to humanitarian efforts in nearly 75 countries around the world.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.