(CERF) broke three records. For the first time, CERF disbursed over half a billion dollars, enabling millions of people affected by humanitarian crises to access life-saving assistance. CERF also received a record level of funding in 2018, over US$500 million, thanks to the generosity of its donors. And CERF made the largest-ever single CERF allocation to date, providing nearly $50 million to fight the growing risk of famine in Yemen amid the collapse in public services and a resurgence of the conflict there.
In 2018, CERF funds prov ided a lifeline to crisis-affected people in 48 countries and territories around the world. When conflict and insecurity erupted, CERF funds kick-started humanitarian assistance to displaced people and the communities hosting them. When people were threatened by natural disasters or disease outbreaks, CERF supported rapid responses to save lives and support survivors.
And, when underfunding jeopardized the delivery of humanitarian assistance in neglected crises, CERF funding was critical to enable humanitarian organizations to sustain life-saving operations.
As Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), I have witnessed how CERF funds are able to provide the aid that is most needed to the people who need it most. Every day, CERF funding enables humanitarian organizations to provide life-saving food and healthcare to people caught up in crises, to give shelter and safety to refugees and internally displaced persons, to ensure that children do not miss out on their education, and to assist people living with disabilities and chronic illnesses in ways that support their needs, rights and dignity.
CERF funds play a vital role in ensuring that the specific needs of women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by crises, are at the front and centre of humanitarian response.
After a massive earthquake struck Sulawesi in Indonesia last October, 40,000 pregnant women needed urgent help to safely deliver their babies.
CERF provided money just for that. Days after the earthquake, when UN Secretary-General António Guterres and I visited Sulawesi, we saw how CERF funds had enabled immediate maternal health care, including continued access to the essential services of midwives and other community health workers.
In today’s interconnected world, CERF enables a global outlook on humanitarian response that is more vital than ever. In 2018, CERF provided two innovative regional rapid response allocations: the first to support six countries affected by the outflow of refugees and migrants from Venezuela; and the second to support four countries neighbouring the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to step up their readiness and prevention efforts against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. At the same time, transparency on the usage of CERF funds is a top priority. In 2018 CERF undertook a comprehensive review of its International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) reporting and as a result, CERF is now listed as the third-most transparent of the 969 organizations publishing their data to the IATI standard. 2019 may be another record-setting year. At CERF’s pledging event in December, donors announced pledges of $439 million – the highest ever pledged at the annual pledging event.
Thanks to this growing support, the fund is uniquely placed to respond to global humanitarian challenges. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said during the event: “If we are serious about humanitarian coordination, if we are serious about effective system-wide priorities and leaving no one behind, the sure bet is CERF. It is the best guarantee that, with increased funding entrusted to us by donors, aid reaches people whenever and wherever they are caught up in crises.” A stronger CERF can do even more in the future.
Among the new approaches we will pursue is a potential role for CERF in funding anticipatory action, for example in response to an imminent natural disaster such as a drought, as well as looking at how CERF can help support chronically underfunded programme areas such as protection, disability, education and gender.
These approaches will build on CERF’s existing strengths and expertise, and in consultation with partners, be further developed and piloted in 2019 as part of CERF’s ongoing efforts to reach more people with life-saving aid at the earliest stages of crises.
CERF is, without a doubt, one of our greatest humanitarian successes. I am immensely grateful to all of the donors and partners who have placed their trust in the Fund. Without your commitment to invest in humanity, none of these achievements would have been possible.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.