I am speaking today on behalf of the European Union.
Funding according to need is one of the central principles of being a good humanitarian donor. The EU therefore finds the topic of todays panel on needs-based humanitarian financing extremely timely.
The dimension and extent of humanitarian emergencies has increased pressure on the international community to act fast, using its resources in the most effective manner. It is imperative that we improve the timeliness, predictability and equitability of funding for emergencies in response to clearly assessed needs. This is why the European Union is firmly committed to providing aid in respect of the humanitarian principles, also taken up in the principles and practice of Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD), which set funding on the basis of, and in proportion to, need.
The EU strongly supports a coherent humanitarian response strategy and prioritization developed through Common Humanitarian Action Plans, with clear needs-based funding requests then reflected in the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) and use of agencies emergency funds for rapid response action. Their ongoing success depends on broadening participation of all humanitarian stakeholders, and continuing to improve strategy-setting and needs-analysis. The EU also supports pooled funding as another potentially useful humanitarian financing mechanism. We recall that an independent evaluation of the Common Funds concluded that the predictability and flexibility of funding had been increased and enabled funds to be targeted to the most urgent priorities.
Among these funding mechanisms, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) represents important progress by providing an additional funding mechanism for relief operations that complements other existing emergency financial mechanisms. The EU is encouraged by the implementation of the upgraded CERF during its first year of operation in promoting rapid response that in turn should lead to reducing loss of life and enhancing response to time-critical emergency relief requirements. The emphasis on strengthening core elements of humanitarian response in under-funded crises is also welcome, but contributions to the CERF from donors must represent additional contributions and not divert funding from other financial mechanisms. In total the CERF has contributed to nearly 500 humanitarian projects in over 40 countries, while also seeking to reduce critical gaps in humanitarian response at the sectoral level. As a successful example, in Liberia, the CERF raised the funding level of health projects by 40% through the consolidated appeals process.
For these reasons, among others, the European Union believes in the added-value of the CERF. As such EU Member States presently contribute approximately three quarters of the total amount of financing received by the Fund.
The EU is pleased to see contributions from over 70 donors, both more established humanitarian donors, and from an increasing number of emerging donors. It is important that this trend is maintained and that the donor base is widened to ensure larger participation, including from the private sector, and that this is sustained over time to help reach the target of $500 million by 2008, as set out in the High Level Panel report on System-wide coherence.
The EU believes that further measures can be taken to facilitate accession and rapid disbursement of CERF funds to implementing partners on the field, including NGOs who play a strategic role in the humanitarian arena. In addition, while many of the initial challenges have been addressed, further work is needed to streamline procedures, expand training, ensure allocation based on identified need, harmonize reporting, and improve transparency and accountability mechanisms. In this context, the EU looks forward to the independent evaluation to review the effectiveness of the Fund.
The EU also stresses the importance of clarity with regard to the indirect support costs charged by the UN Secretariat to the CERF and to overhead costs charged by UN agencies and IOM. We must foster a culture of accountability and transparency for the benefit of the efficient use of the fund and with that in mind, would very much appreciate if the Secretariat and relevant humanitarian agencies could provide us with a breakdown of the expenses involved regarding overhead costs. We are also aware of the intended increase of the CERF Secretariat and would request further information on this matter.
With regard to the timely disbursement of funds, the EU recognizes that some progress has been made, as shown in Lebanon and Timor-Leste where funds were approved within 72 hours, but we regret that delays continue to take place. The EU welcomes further progress on the streamlining of financial procedures, including through the much needed proposed umbrella Letter of Understanding.
The implementation of the CERF has also drawn attention to the need for better definitions, indicators and needs assessment frameworks to better identify priorities as situations evolve to ensure that the aid delivered is achieving its humanitarian objectives of saving lives and preventing suffering as effectively as possible. The EU welcomes the development of common information standards, definitions and criteria as well as the development of shared platforms for information management and analysis. It is equally important to promote evaluation mechanisms to monitor and assess the efficacy of projects. A reference must also be made regarding the need for ensuring the quality and accuracy of data in order to secure effective resource allocation and success in the field. The EU welcomes the UNs intention to make use of the Needs Analysis Framework as the basis for all CAP appeals in 2008 and encourages further work on ensuring that the CAPs are well prioritized based on humanitarian need.
Needs-based humanitarian assistance must be at the core of our actions. The ongoing humanitarian reform constitutes an excellent opportunity to further develop and promote its use and, as donors, we fully support those efforts.
I will conclude by reiterating the request for further information on the breakdown of expenses regarding overhead costs charged by the UN Secretariat to the CERF.
We are also aware of the intended increase of the CERF Secretariat, which we welcome. We look forward to close dialogue with OCHA on this matter. In this sense, we would appreciate if you explained some of the rationale behind the projected increase.