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CERF Annual Results Report 2020



It is a pleasure to introduce the 2020 Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) Annual Results Report.

The year 2020 illustrates the need for an emergency fund ‘for all, by all’ that enables swift humanitarian action to save lives and protect people in crisis globally.

In a year of unprecedented need, driven in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic, CERF met the challenge, disbursing a record US$ 848 million to assist 69 million people in need in 59 countries and territories.

CERF contributions enabled a timely pandemic response for some of the world’s most vulnerable people, while the Fund continued to respond to sudden-onset emergencies and ongoing crises worldwide – including, for example, shelter for civilians in north-west Syria following airstrikes, and support for a massive scale-up of locust monitoring and control efforts across East Africa and Southern Africa.

CERF was agile and innovative as never before.
To respond to the evolving impacts of the pandemic, CERF provided flexible funding at scale to the UN system when needed the most, funded NGOs directly and allocated money specifically for local women-led organizations to combat gender-based violence.

CERF was also key in advancing anticipatory action – before floods struck in Bangladesh and ahead of forecasted severe food insecurity in Somalia and Ethiopia. Support in this way allows people to make their own choices on how best to prepare.

Of the $848 million disbursed, $100 million went to fight rising food insecurity through cash assistance. CERF channelled a record $225 million to 20 underfunded and neglected crises in 2020.

All the while, CERF continued to strengthen support to four priority areas that are often underfunded: programmes specifically for women and girls and people with disabilities; ensuring that children living in protracted emergencies receive education; and promoting protection and dignity for all people affected by crises.

CERF is a success story in the international community. No other fund enables humanitarian responders to act as rapidly and at scale when emergencies strike. No other fund embodies the spirit and the potential of the United Nations to respond in times of crisis.

This success is impossible without our donors’ support. Having a well-funded CERF meant that when the pandemic, floods, earthquakes or violence struck, we could immediately respond.

As we look ahead, we know that humanitarian need will unfortunately not abate. Unexpected challenges will inevitably arise. We can – and must – use CERF’s global reach to support people when – and if possible, before – disaster strikes, as well as assist the world’s most vulnerable people trapped year after year in protracted humanitarian crises.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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