Reacting immediately to disasters is key
Whether it is a natural disaster or a violent conflict that breaks out thus sending images around the world, they often trigger an impressive readiness to donate. In 2005, for example, following the devastating tsunami in South-East Asia, government and private actors donated the then record-breaking sum of 17 billion dollars. However, the funding needed is not always available immediately as it was back then. Often weeks and months pass and extremely valuable time is lost. After all, the initial period following a disaster is the decisive phase when it comes to emergency measures to limit damage and save lives.
Country-Based Pooled Funds: assistance on the ground after just a few days
The United Nations set up the Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPF) to meet precisely this challenge. States as well as private donors pay into the Funds without these having a precisely defined purpose. If a humanitarian emergency breaks out in one of the countries for which funds exist, funding is made available immediately and can be used in fast and flexible fashion for emergency measures. It then falls to the teams commissioned by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to set priorities on the ground and select partner organisations to implement the measures. This means those affected can receive key assistance in just a few days.
Assistance for Yemen and the Central African Republic
One example showing how the Country-Based Pooled Funds work is the field of food security in Yemen: After years of civil war and international isolation, more than 20 million people are at risk of starvation. The CBPF for Yemen thus made available 35.2 million dollars for food aid in 2019. This enabled aid organisations to distribute both food and cash and provide farmers with seeds and fishermen with equipment with a view to securing food sources in the longer term. In 2019, Germany paid 38 million euro into the CBPF for Yemen.
Also in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBPF proved to be a highly effective tool, for example in the Central African Republic. The country which has been plagued by political crisis and violent conflict since 2013 is more or less completely lacking in medical infrastructure. Thanks to funding from the CBPF, national and international relief organisations were able to stage awareness-raising campaigns, make available protective equipment and help the shelters housing the some 600,000 internally displaced persons in the country prepare for social distancing measures.
A strategic instrument of German humanitarian assistance
Germany relies on this instrument precisely because the CBPF facilitate fast and effective assistance. In line with the Federal Foreign Office Strategy for Humanitarian Assistance Abroad, the CBPF enhance the options available to the United Nations when it comes to providing flexible funding for relief measures and are supported by the Federal Foreign Office. In 2019, Germany paid almost 150 million euro into the CBPF. Support of at least a comparable level is planned for 2020. 70% of the total funding from the CBPF were forwarded to NGOs in 2019, of which 25% were channelled to local and national stakeholders.
CBPF are set up depending on need. Currently they are in place for 18 countries. The most recent addition was the CBPF for Ukraine in 2019 to which Germany has thus far contributed 5 million euro.