The Central Emergency Response Fund
People impacted by natural disasters and armed conflict need food, safe drinking water, medical supplies and other life-saving aid as soon as possible. The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) exists to get rapid humanitarian relief to people quickly and efficiently. Grants are dispatched though two main funding windows:
- Rapid Response
- Underfunded Emergencies
The specific objectives of the CERF are to:
- Promote early action and response to reduce loss of life
- Enhance response to time-critical requirements based on demonstrative needs
- Strengthen the core elements of humanitarian response in under-funded crises
Funds available for rapid response
Response time is vital to saving lives. CERF, funds can be disbursed within the first 48 hours of a crises. Donor countries pay into the fund annually so it is ready and waiting to be deployed when the next emergency strikes.
The Fund also targets the world’s most neglected crises. When a disaster is in the headlines it is easier to raise money for critical humanitarian needs. However, as headlines fade, donations often fail to keep pace with need.
The Fund sends out grants to "forgotten emergencies" twice a year for crises that have not attracted sufficient funding of their own.
Past allocations have gone to meet humanitarian needs in Darfur, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Who are the Fund’s donors?
The CERF is funded through voluntary contributions. Canada’s support puts us among the top five donors. While the CERF receives the bulk of its funding from governments, it also garners wide-range support from foundations, companies, charities and individuals. Given the critical role that the CERF plays in meeting humanitarian needs, its annual funding target was recently increased from $450 million to $1 billion..
Who decides where the money is sent?
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) manages the CERF on behalf of the UN Secretary-General. CERF funds are distributed to humanitarian agencies on the ground. The CERF is also guided by an 18-member Advisory Group (of which Canada is a member), that provides support and policy direction to the Secretary-General on the use and impact of the Fund.
Central Emergency Response Fund saves lives
Each year, CERF grants enable humanitarian partners to:
- provide critical health services to over 20 million people
- food assistance for some 10 million people
- provide water and sanitation to 8 million people
- bring emergency shelter to over 1 million people
Other areas of CERF-funded interventions include:
- camp management
- mine action
History of the fund
In 2005, the UN Secretary-General proposed that an existing US$50 million loan facility be expanded to include a grant facility of up to US$450 million.
Since 2006, CERF has received more than $4.2 billion from 125 UN Member States and observers, regional and local governments, private donors and individuals
- OCHA - United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund website
- United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund fact sheet
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