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  • 1. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Ref. [OCHA Ref No] Interim Standardization Guidelines [ 17 April 2008 ] Common Humanitarian Funds Approved by: [Name and position of approving official] Approval date: [Date approved] Contact: [Initials of Office or Officer responsible for holding & maintaining] Review date: [To be reviewed no later than this date]
  • 2. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 Guidelines - Common Humanitarian Fund These ‘guidelines’ outline the main principles and components of a Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF). The document draws upon: • recognized best practice and lessons learned from the two existing funds in Sudan and DRC • recommendations from two independent evaluations • stakeholder consultation through the CHF working group, (in particular circulation of the CHF discussion paper) and other ad hoc discussions both at the field and Headquarters level In setting out the basic elements of a Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) the guidelines provide a basis for shaping decision making at country level regarding the application of CHF mechanisms. The guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive, recognizing that each application will take place in country contexts where varying humanitarian financing mechanisms may exist and in which alternative solutions may be more appropriate. They do, however, provide a generic, ‘minimum’ structure around which a country specific CHF can be designed. The guidelines are a work in progress. This interim version will support the initial implementation of CHFs and constitutes a first step in developing a comprehensive guideline for standardization. The guideline comes with a ‘toolbox’ consisting of a broad range of reference documents from existing CHFs in DRC and Sudan. These documents will be available on a CD-ROM as well as on a password protected website ( Introduction to Common Humanitarian Funds Context Since 2006, the increasing focus on pooled funding mechanisms has emerged in the context of the humanitarian reform agenda. One key reform objective focuses on financing; specifically the need to ensure that funding for emergency response is increasingly needs-driven, timely, flexible and predictable. As such, pooled funds build on the principles of the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative. In terms of humanitarian funding mechanisms, the collective term ‘pooled funds’ refers to the upgraded Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) at the global level and country level financing mechanisms under the leadership of the Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator: Common Humanitarian Funds and Emergency Response Funds (ERFs). As well as being directly related to the ‘financing’ objective of the reform agenda, pooled funds are also viewed as tools that support and ‘multiply’ the effects of other reform initiatives. CHFs and ERFs The key function of an ERF is to provide relatively small, quick, time-limited funding in response to small ‘shocks’ which were unforeseen during an annual planning cycle. Largely based on the original model from Angola (1998), ERFs are usually the only common humanitarian financing tool in many contexts. CHFs are typically larger funds than ERFs, and rather than serving an emergency response function the main objective of a CHF is to provide timely and predictable funding to core elements of the humanitarian plan in the country. CHFs may also have a built-in emergency response function, and in CHF countries where ERFs were already in existence, like Sudan and DRC, the existing ERFs currently function as a component of the CHF. In that they both contain a standardized mechanism for prioritization and allocation of funds at the country level, both ERFs and CHFs can be used as guidance for developing and prioritizing requests for CERF funding. The CHF’s in Sudan and DRC have evolved along different lines but both are underpinned by a number of principles and basic assumptions. The primary assumption underlying the CHF model is that the HC, in collaboration with an inclusive Humanitarian Country Team, is well placed to make sound resource allocation decisions to fill gaps and complement agency resources based on comprehensive contextual analysis, assessed needs and commonly agreed priorities. Page 2 of 16
  • 3. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 Other key principles: CHFs are designed to: 1. contribute to improving timeliness and coherence of response 2. fill sectoral and geographic gaps 3. encourage the continuous improvement of needs assessment and strategic planning / prioritization within the CHAP / CAP/or similar planning framework 4. complement other funding channels and improve co-ordination of all funding flows 5. strengthen the CHAP/CAP’s/similar planning framework role as a clear framework in which accountability can be focused and information management can be improved 6. strengthen the leadership role and accountability of the Humanitarian Coordinator 7. utilize and strengthen leadership and accountability at the sectoral level (e.g. the cluster approach) On the basis of these principles, a set of country conditions have been developed to aid decision making on implementation. These include:  A well developed and prioritized plan with a clear strategy and appropriate indicators (e.g. CAP/ CHAP);  A leadership, accountability and coordination structure at the sectoral level working according to an agreed upon ToR (e.g. Clusters) and an in-country regional/provincial coordination process, in place;  A Humanitarian Coordinator that garners sufficient confidence and support and is enabled to lead a credible and transparent decision-making process;  A programmatic and financial fund management capacity on the ground. CHF Essential Structure The remaining part of the guideline focuses on the essential CHF ‘minimum’ structure and its component parts. These are as follows: 1. Management Structure 2. Allocation Process 3. Disbursement and Financial Management 4. Monitoring, Evaluation and Information Management CHF Toolbox – Key Reference Documents for General Introduction to CHFs Available on CD and website: General Documents • Humanitarian Financing Overview Paper • Discussion paper on standardizing the CHFs • Terms of Reference for CHFs in DRC and Sudan • CHF evaluations for Sudan and DRC 2006 and 2007 • Sudan action point matrix on 2007 CHF Evaluation recommendations • CHF Lessons learnt notes DRC and Sudan Page 3 of 16
  • 4. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 Management Structure: Overview of CHF Roles and Responsibilities This section will outline the core responsibilities of key actors for the CHF process at country level. A standard structural setup is illustrated in the chart below. Humanitarian CHF Advisory Coordinator Group Financial Fund Programmatic Fund Monitoring and Management Unit Management Unit Evaluation Unit Cluster Lead Cluster Lead ... Cluster Lead Humanitarian Coordinator The operations of the CHF will be carried out under the overall oversight and coordination of the Humanitarian Coordinator. In carrying out her/his function, the Humanitarian Coordinator will be supported by a dedicated CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit and a Financial Fund Management Unit (note that the word ‘Unit’ here is a generic term which does not imply any particular size or scale) guided in broad terms by an Advisory Group. As it relates to the CHF, the Humanitarian Coordinator, in collaboration with the Programmatic Fund Management Unit is responsible for: • ensuring the conduct of needs assessments; • ensuring the development of an appropriate strategic planning framework (CAP or CHAP); • providing allocation policy guidelines and strategic direction; • defining the level of the Emergency/Rapid Response Reserve and allocating CHF resources according to agreed procedures; • ensuring allocations are well-prioritized and needs based; • mobilizing resources; • approving allocations and disbursements; • reporting to donors in accordance with CHF requirements; • managing the process of monitoring and evaluating the impact and effectiveness of delivery; and • chairing the CHF Advisory Group. CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit A CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit (PFMU) staffed by the OCHA Field Office is responsible for supporting the HC in all aspects of programmatic fund management1. 1 A key lesson that has been learned from existing CHFs in Sudan and DRC is that the management of a CHF requires dedicated and full-time support both for HC/OCHA offices, the Administrative Agent function at UNDP and the Agency country offices. Currently in both countries the programmatic fund management functions are performed by OCHA staff. This was in part made possible by the fact that the OCHA offices in both Sudan and DRC were already large and could absorb the additional workload; also by flexible use of secondments and the use of UNDP contracted staff and a high degree of dedication from a few individuals. In Sudan, the programmatic fund management related functions are performed by the same unit that is responsible for other policy and planning issues including the Work Plan (the Sudan equivalent of a CHAP/CAP). In DRC, a Joint Unit has been established (between OCHA and UNDP) to support all aspects of the fund management including financial management. The development of the DRC Humanitarian Action Plan, which does not include detailed projects, is facilitated separately by OCHA. Page 4 of 16
  • 5. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 The size and composition of a CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit will reflect the context in which a CHF is established and the size of the fund. The unit is responsible for undertaking the following core tasks: • support the HC and the advisory group in fund design and implementation; • facilitating the allocation process; • facilitating necessary analysis and research; • facilitating necessary review of allocation proposals; • managing preparations of CHF reports and ensuring that a rolling overview of progress is maintained, on behalf of the HC; • serving as a programmatic fund management focal point for cluster/sector leads and other partners; • linking to the Financial Fund Management Unit on disbursement issues; • linking to humanitarian planning and coordination activities; • liaising with stakeholders; • providing support to the CHF advisory group; • daily management of fund activities (including follow up and support on revision, reprogramming, quality control of meeting minutes, etc.); • information management and dissemination; • compile and consolidate CHF programmatic reports from participating organizations; • support monitoring and evaluation activities including external evaluations of the fund. CHF Financial Fund Management Unit The CHF Financial Fund Management Unit (FFMU) will manage disbursement of CHF funds as per allocations decided by the Humanitarian Coordinator. This includes establishing necessary legal and financial agreements with recipient organizations. In countries where UNDP takes on the role as Administrative Agent a financial fund management unit of the UNDP Country Office acts as the Administrative Agent of the Fund locally. It is responsible for supporting the HC in all aspects of financial fund management. Principal functions of the Administrative Agent include: • conclude Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Participating UN Organizations; • conclude Standard Administrative Arrangements (SAAs), formerly known as Letters of Agreement (LOAs), with donors; • receive and administer donor contributions on behalf of the Participating UN Organizations; • disburse funds to Participating UN Organizations as instructed by the Humanitarian Coordinator; • maintain a Rapid Response Reserve, as directed by the Humanitarian Coordinator; • report to the Humanitarian Coordinator and donors on the sources and uses of donor contributions received; • consolidate periodic financial progress reports from Participating UN Organizations for review and approval by the Humanitarian Coordinator and dissemination to donors. Monitoring and Evaluation Unit This unit/function shall as a minimum support monitoring and evaluation directly related to implementation of the activities funded by the CHF, but will ideally also support monitoring and evaluation of implementation of the broader CHAP/CAP. The unit/function sits with the HC, outside of the other ‘OCHA’ support functions; however in smaller CHF setups the M&E function may be embedded into the programmatic fund management unit, similar to what is the case for many ERFs. The M&E unit is tasked with organizing, facilitating and collating reporting to ensure that the HC has: • basic management information to allow him/her to understand the progress against agreed goals and targets • a sufficient insight, through collated reporting and evaluations, to enable evidence based reporting to donors Page 5 of 16
  • 6. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 (See Monitoring and Evaluation Section) CHF Advisory Group An Advisory Group will guide the Humanitarian Coordinator in the management of the fund. The Advisory Group will typically consist of the Humanitarian Coordinator (as Chair); local representatives of all donors to the Common Humanitarian Fund; Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) representatives from the CHF Participating UN Organizations; representatives of the NGO community. The Chair can also invite the government, non-CHF donors, other representatives of the HCT and the NGO community, as well as any other person deemed necessary for improving discussions and recommendations by the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will be responsible for: • reviewing policy guidelines and regional/sector allocations made by the Humanitarian Coordinator at various points in the consultative allocation process; • reviewing the reports submitted by the Humanitarian Coordinator; • reviewing the operational activities of the CHF itself; • ensuring that the activities funded under the CHF are harmonized with those of other humanitarian and recovery pooled funds, as well as those funded bilaterally by donors; • advising on any issue related to the operation of the CHF. The Advisory Group will have its annual General Meeting in the last quarter of the year in which overall strategic issues will be discussed and decided, and donor pledges sought. The Advisory Group will otherwise meet on a quarterly basis to review progress and plan for the coming quarter. At least on a quarterly basis meetings should be timed to coincide with the standard allocations periods. Cluster/sector Leads Cluster/sector leads should work according to terms of reference agreed by the IASC, which encompasses a range of activities including, but not limited to, those related to humanitarian financing. Based on field practice and evaluations of the cluster approach, it is intended that the specific role of cluster leads in humanitarian financing will be defined further. In general, however, that role has built on the role traditionally played by sector leads in the CAP, and as it relates to the CHF, includes: • facilitating all CHF related processes for a given sector in full consultation with all cluster/sector partners; • establishing needs based priorities for CHF funding within a given sector; • facilitating cross-sector/cluster coordination and needs analysis; • lead a process to transparently identify and review priority humanitarian projects for funding based on agreed priorities and strategies; and • supporting monitoring and evaluation of sectoral activities and reporting on these. CHF Technical Review Committee It is recommended that a cross-sectoral, multi-agency (including NGOs) technical review committee is established in order to review proposals on behalf on the HC. The technical review committee will review consolidated sector proposals at the tail-end of the CHF allocation process, and will provide recommendations to the HC on the soundness of the proposals. Although sector leads are best placed to judge the soundness of individual projects and allocation decisions within their sector, a technical review committee will be able to review allocations in a broader more holistic perspective across sectors. The technical review shall focus on: • the quality of the consolidated proposals rather than individual project allocations, although the review committee can also make recommendations on specific project allocations; • ensuring that proposals meet agreed priorities and criteria; • review proposals in a holistic cross-sectoral context; • review whether proposals provide best utilization of available funds; and • ensure that proposals are complementary to other funding sources. Page 6 of 16
  • 7. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 The function performed by the review committee adds to the checks and balances of the allocation process, and will help address concerns of the dual roles and potential impartiality of sector leads2. OCHA Field Office In addition to the dedicated support provided through the CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit, it is important that OCHA provides system wide support to the HC and to cluster leads for CHF related activities at both central and regional level, especially when it comes to coordination, priority setting and needs analysis. CHF Country Level Working Group In larger operations it can be beneficial to create a smaller CHF working group comprising of donor, UN, NGO and fund management representatives, in order to take specific technical issues forward on behalf of the HC and the advisory group. It will be a working level group and not be a decision making body. The group will be chaired by the PFMU and will work on technical issues under the guidance of the Advisory Group. The PFMU will report back to the advisory group with the outcome of the group’s work. The working group will typically meet more regularly than the advisory group. OCHA Headquarters There is a general consensus that dedicated capacity at the HQ level will be required to support these and other field level pooled funds. Tasks at this level may likely include but would not be limited to supporting financial analysis and donor liaison; provide surge capacity and start-up support, serve as repository for lessons learnt and best practices, ensuring complementarity, standards and coherence in respect to CHFs, ERFs, CERF and other funding mechanisms, facilitating contact with the New York- based MDTF unit in UNDP, and Agencies and facilitating IASC discussions on these matters. UNDP Multi-Donor Trust Fund Office When UNDP is selected as the Administrative Agent (AA), the accountability for UNDP’s function as AA in Multi-Donor Trust Funds (MDTF) using pass-through arrangements like the CHFs is delegated to the Executive Coordinator of the MDTF Office of UNDP3. Specific tasks related to the Administrative Agent functions will be performed to the extent possible by UNDP Country Offices with explicit delegation of authority. The UNDP MDTF Office will maintain regular contact with Country Offices and provide support, including through advice and training on the establishment, ongoing administration and closure of the Funds; interaction with donors, Participating UN Organizations and OCHA at Headquarters level; participation to reviews and provision of advice/input on AA issues that arise in Fund-level evaluations. CHF Toolbox – Key Reference Documents for CHF Roles and Responsibilities Available on CD and website: CHF Roles and Responsibilities • Terms of Reference for CHFs in DRC and Sudan • Discussion paper on standardizing the CHFs • CHF evaluations for Sudan and DRC 2006 and 2007 • Lessons learnt notes from DRC and Sudan • UNDP’s Accountability when acting as Administrative Agent in MDTFs and or UN Joint Programmes using the pass-through fund management modality”. • UNDP Delegation of Authority to Country Offices performing the Administrative Agent function 2 Often sector lead agencies will have a dual role in that they are requested to facilitate the allocation process within the sector in a neutral way, and at the same time compete for funding with other sector members. 3 See UNDP’s Policy Note of 27 June 2007: “UNDP’s Accountability when acting as Administrative Agent in MDTFs and/or UN Joint Programmes using the pass-through fund management modality". Page 7 of 16
  • 8. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 CHF Allocation Process The allocation process is at the center of the CHF mechanism. The ethos on which the CHF operates is that the HC, in consultation with partners involved through a structured and participatory process, with a country level perspective and as the ‘leader’ of the humanitarian response is well placed to make sound, strategic and prioritised decisions. The CHF Allocation Process is the HC’s mechanism for consulting with the humanitarian country team, with cluster/sector leads and with implementing partners, to ensure best possible use of available CHF funds. In principle, the CHAP/CAP4 (or similar planning framework) is the basis on which requests for funding are prioritized. As such, the allocation process relies heavily on the quality of the CHAP/CAP, as well as the continual improvement of cross-sector/cluster needs based analysis. In addition, the allocation process requires a relatively developed coordination and response system based on clear leadership, accountability, and partnership at the sector level (e.g. clusters) or relevant regional/sectoral groups. Ideally, a CHAP/CAP, with a well defined strategy, clear needs based priorities and standardized indicators by cluster/sector would allow for a relatively straightforward allocation process. In practice, in a changing humanitarian context and in the absence of up-to-date accurate humanitarian data, a consultative allocation process is necessary for effective targeting of funds. Realizing that a one-size fits all solution is not possible for all potential roll-out countries, the allocation process shall be designed or adjusted to suit the country specific coordination structures and planning framework, however a number of core elements should be included in the allocation process. Getting the allocation process right requires striking an appropriate balance between inclusiveness/transparency and speed/efficiency. This guideline seeks to define a broad structure for the CHF allocation process and to present through examples how the allocation process has been designed in existing CHFs. As a rule each CHF contains two core allocation modalities the Standard Allocation Model and the Emergency Reserve/Rapid Response Mechanism both of which will be explained below. The CHF Standard Allocation Model The Standard Allocation Model is an allocation model/process through which the majority of CHF funding is allocated to activities within the CAP or other planning framework. The purpose of the standard allocation model is to provide timely and predictable funding to priority elements of the planning framework. Most of the funds allocated through this modality will typically be allocated early in the year5 to front load critical humanitarian programmes in the country. The Standard Allocation Model involves close consultation with cluster/sector groups and other relevant partners at central and regional level. The Core Elements of the standard Allocation Model This section outlines the minimum elements/steps within a CHF Standard Allocation Model. The actual context in which a CHF is implemented will shape the exact structure of the allocation process. Details on allocation models from existing CHFs are provided as reference and can serve as a useful basis for designing an appropriate detailed allocation model for new deployment of CHFs. The basic model described in this paper has only four main elements, whereas existing models from Sudan and DRC are broken down into additional process related steps. 2. Prioritisation Framework Project 3. Review and 1. CHF Allocation Regional and 4. Disbursement Sectoral Priorities Identification and Approval of Policy Guidance Prioritisation of Funds Allocations 4 In the reminder of this document the term CAP will be used when referring to the humanitarian planning framework in place. 5 Timing of allocations through the Standard Allocation Model should ideally be aligned with the in-country planning/delivery cycle which may be different from the calendar year and may take into consideration seasonal factors such as rainy and dry seasons. Timing of allocations will naturally also depend on availability of funds in the CHF as donor contributions may be provided throughout the year. Page 8 of 16
  • 9. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 ELEMENT 1- CHF Allocation Policy Guidance The CHF standard allocation process shall be guided by an allocation policy in the form of a policy paper developed by the Humanitarian Coordinator with support from the Programmatic Fund Management Unit and the humanitarian country team. The policy paper is shared with the advisory group for consultation. The policy paper shall serve as reference for all stakeholders throughout the allocation process and shall be based on solid analysis and consultation with cluster/sector groups at regional and central level. The policy guidelines will be informed by an analysis of needs, i.e. humanitarian needs as well as financial needs of programmes in the CHAP. The financial analysis will include: • Common Humanitarian Fund commitments from Donors and details of the schedule of payments into the CHF Account; • Commitments from donors using other funding approaches; • Accurate information from participating UN Organizations and Implementing Partners on resources remaining available for humanitarian assistance from previous years and other sources of funding6. Components of the Allocation Policy Paper The allocation policy paper shall as a minimum outline: o Total amount to be allocated through the CHF o Timeline for the allocation process o Roles and responsibilities in the allocation process o Overarching allocation strategy and priorities o Allocation envelopes7 (exact amount or ranges) by region8 and/or cluster/sector Lessons learnt from existing CHFs have shown that investment in increased analysis and stricter setting of criteria and priorities at allocation policy level will lead to a lighter, faster and more effective allocation process. Ideally the policy paper will therefore also provide: o Specific guidance on priorities and (types of) activities eligible for funding within clusters/sectors and/or regions o Specific guidance on allocation of funds to thematic issues across clusters/sectors as well as towards larger country programmes when relevant The CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit will assist the Humanitarian Coordinator in developing the policy paper and will facilitate the necessary analysis and consultations. ELEMENT 2- Prioritization Framework A CHF is designed for the Humanitarian Coordinator to identify priority humanitarian interventions for funding within a CHAP/CAP with support from the technical experts on the ground. With respect to the latter, humanitarian partners are requested to identify priorities at regional and sectoral level to be considered for CHF funding and submit these to the HC for consideration. Step 1 – Regional and Sectoral Priorities Agreement shall be sought within the humanitarian community which priority elements of the humanitarian response to target with available CHF funding. Based on the humanitarian priorities defined within the CAP, and the allocation guidance provided by the HC through the CHF Allocation Policy Paper, priorities for CHF support shall therefore be identified at regional level (if/when relevant) and at cluster/sector level. Where a regional planning process is in place cluster/sector priorities shall be defined at regional level. The identification of humanitarian priorities shall be led by OCHA and relevant cluster/sector leads, and shall reflect the amount of funds available for allocation. Geographical and cluster/sector priorities for CHF support as approved by the HC provide contextual basis for identification of specific projects for funding. 6 FTS shall serve as the principal source and reference for funding data of the humanitarian system. Where in-country financial tracking systems exists these shall ensure regular exchange of data with FTS. 7 The Policy Paper can also identify thematic/cross-cutting issues for funding and assign specific funding envelopes to these 8 If the allocation process covers several distinct planning regions Page 9 of 16
  • 10. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 Step 2 – Project Identification Cluster/sector leads shall consult with cluster/sector working groups (UN and NGOs) in order to identify activities that will best possible meet the needs and priorities agreed for CHF support. Where projects have already been developed as part of the CHAP/CAP, priority projects amongst these shall be identified for funding. For planning frameworks where planning is at cluster/sector level only and projects have not been developed, specific project proposals will need to be developed by cluster/sector members against agreed CHF priorities. The output of this step will be an allocation proposal for the HC providing a list of projects and proposed funds allocated to each along with justification and rationale for the allocations. When selecting projects for funding, the cluster/sector lead shall, in addition to strategic and programmatic considerations, also take into consideration such factors as the current funding status of projects, organizations capacity to implement, past performance of recipient organizations and NGO/UN balance. Recommendations: • The CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit shall provide cluster/sector leaders and groups with clear guidance and support for undertaking a sound prioritization process. This includes providing dedicated training and making available appropriate tools, templates, formats and procedures9. • All CHF meetings shall be documented through agreed reporting formats to ensure a transparent process and to allow the HC and other stakeholders to review the decision making process. • For humanitarian operations with a regionalized structure it is important to involve partners at regional level in strategy setting and prioritization. However, experience has shown that an element of centralization is recommended when it comes to decision making10. • When undertaking allocations within clusters/sectors it is important to strike a balance between inclusiveness and broad consultation of partners, and at the same time maintain an effective decision making framework that will allow strategic and often difficult decisions to be made. This may involve taking final project allocation decisions outside the broader cluster/sector groups, preferable into a higher level cross cluster/sector forum11. ELEMENT 3- Review and Approval of Allocations Once cluster/sector groups have provided allocation proposals according to the funding envelopes defined by the CHF Allocation Policy Paper these will be compiled and consolidated by the Programmatic Fund Management Unit. Proposals shall be reviewed according to the procedures agreed for the fund, which will typically involve a formal review by the CHF Technical Review Committee (if such a function has been established) before final proposals are consolidated for consideration by the HC. In order to provide the HC with best possible support in making final allocation decisions, further informal reviews will typically be undertaken by: • The CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit • The CHF Advisory Group • Peer review by cluster leads and area coordinators (OCHA)/RCO Based on recommendations from the review process CHF allocations may be adjusted as per decision of the HC who is ultimately responsible for allocation decisions. Final allocations will be approved by the HC in consultation with the CHF Advisory Group. Consolidated allocation decisions will be communicated to all partners and the HC will instruct the Financial Fund Management Unit to proceed with disbursements. ELEMENT 4- Disbursement of Funds 9 Please refer to support material from existing CHFs for examples of; meeting structure formats, meeting minutes, prioritization tools and methodologies and allocation proposals formats. 10 Please refer to lessons learnt and existing structures and procedures in Sudan and DRC 11 Please refer to allocation process frameworks from Sudan and DRC for detailed examples of allocation models. Page 10 of 16
  • 11. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 In accordance with the decisions of the Humanitarian Coordinator, the Administrative Agent disburses funds to participating UN Agencies and IOM. NGOs access the CHF funds through the Managing Agent (UNDP is managing agent in Sudan and DRC). Please refer to separate section on the disbursement process. Emergency Reserve/Rapid Response Mechanism An emergency reserve is kept within the CHF to enable the HC to respond to unforeseen needs arising outside the Standard Allocation process. The emergency reserve will typically be of no more than 10% of committed funds to the CHF. The CHF reserve will have two functions, Emergency Reserve Allocations and Rapid Response Allocations. Emergency Reserve Allocation: To enable the Humanitarian Coordinator to respond to critical funding needs of activities within the CAP on a case by case basis. Allocations from the reserve will take place outside the Standard Allocation Process, and will typically be towards under-funded activities in the CAP that may emerge as priorities during the year. Allocations through the Emergency Reserve: • Shall be submitted to the CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit through the relevant cluster/sector lead. • Shall justify why special funding outside the Standard Allocation Model is required, including explanation on why the activity/project was not funded during the Standard Allocation process. • If relevant, the proposal shall be reviewed by OCHA staff undertaking coordination of humanitarian activities in the area/region in question. • Allocation decisions and disbursements shall be fast-tracked if necessary. • A formal review mechanism for proposals shall be established Rapid Response: To enable the Humanitarian Coordinator to respond to unplanned for in-country emergencies (e.g. natural disasters, displacements, disease outbreaks). This will typically be towards activities not originally included in the CAP, and depending on the scale of the emergency, CHF funding may be provided along with CERF Rapid Response funds when applicable. The CHF Rapid Response mechanism serves a similar role as a typical ERF. In situations where an ERF is in place in a country prior to establishment of a CHF, it may be advantageous to maintain or build on the existing ERF structures when implementing the Rapid Response function of the CHF. Allocations through the Rapid Response window of the CHF Emergency Reserve: • Shall be submitted to the CHF Programmatic Fund Management Unit through the relevant cluster/sector lead. • Proposals for Rapid Response funding will often be part of a joint response comprising multiple organizations, potentially across multiple clusters/sectors, and should as such be coordinated by OCHA. • Allocations will typically be granted to activities not already included in the CAP and a detailed proposal is therefore required. It is recommended that funded projects are included in the CAP post hoc, where applicable. • Allocation decisions and disbursement shall be fast-tracked, and requests shall be processed within a minimum timeline defined by the fund. • In order to streamline emergency funding processes for humanitarian partners it is proposed to align procedures and formats as close to the CERF allocation requests as feasible. • A formal review mechanism for proposals shall be established. To what degree the HC wishes to involve the Advisory Group in allocations from the emergency reserve is at her/his discretion. Page 11 of 16
  • 12. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 CHF Toolbox - Reference Documents for Allocation Process Available on CD and website: General Documents • Pooled fund allocation process description for DRC • Sudan standard allocation model flowchart and step by step guide • Lessons learnt notes Sudan and DRC • Sudan and DRC end-year reports 2006 and 2007 • Sudan and DRC AA financial reports 2006 and 2007 • Discussion paper on standardizing the CHFs Allocation Policy Guidance • Examples of allocation policy papers from DRC and Sudan 2006-2008 • Lessons learnt note CHF2008 1st Allocation Round Sudan Prioritization Framework • Project prioritization tool/template Sudan • Sudan meeting minutes/reports templates, guidance notes on meeting formats • DRC pooled fund proposal format • Sudan Work Plan project format and CHF allocation format Review and Approval of Allocations • Terms of reference for Technical review Committee DRC and Sudan • …. Emergency Reserve/Rapid Response Mechanism • Sudan and DRC templates for Emergency allocations Page 12 of 16
  • 13. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 Financial Management and Disbursement Pass-through fund management model By establishing a CHF, Participating UN Organizations offer donors the possibility to channel funds and receive reports on the Fund through a single channel: the Administrative Agent (AA). The AA is jointly selected by all Participating UN Organizations to perform the fund manager role as operational support function to the HC. In the case of the CHFs established in 2006 in the Sudan and the DRC, the selected AA is UNDP. The Participating UN Organizations, UNDP and OCHA sign a single Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish the Fund: While the AA is the interface between the Participating UN Organizations and donors, the full programmatic and financial accountability remains with the Participating UN Organizations that are managing their respective CHF portfolio. Each donor is required to sign a standardized Letter of Agreement with the AA, setting out the terms and conditions governing the receipt and administration of the contributions. The AA is responsible for receiving and administering all donor contributions in the CHF account established for this purpose; in turn it makes transfers to Participating UN Organizations and IOM, as instructed by the Humanitarian Coordinator. The AA also provides reports to the Humanitarian Coordinator and donors on the sources and uses of donor contributions. The traditional functions of the AA also include the consolidation of periodic financial progress reports from Participating UN Organizations for submission to the decision- making body of the Fund for review and approval and thereafter to donors. Transfer of funds to NGOs: the Managing Agent function in CHFs NGO partners involved in the CHF cannot receive funds directly from the AA; therefore they access the CHF through one Participating UN Organization performing an additional oversight and fund management function: the Managing Agent (MA). The MA uses its standard NGO execution modality for this purpose. In the case of the CHFs established in 2006 in the Sudan and the DRC, the selected MA is UNDP. The MA assumes full programmatic and financial accountability for the funds disbursed to it by the Administrative Agent. The Managing Agent function of UNDP is clearly differentiated from the Administrative Agent function through a “firewall” policy12. Moreover, the Humanitarian Coordinator retains the responsibility for the allocation of funds to specific NGOs and projects. When establishing a CHF the Humanitarian Coordinator and Participating UN Organizations will need to identify an Organization that assumes full programmatic and financial accountability to carry out the oversight function of the CHF NGO partners. Several options exist for the MA function: 1. Any Participating UN Organization that has programmatic expertise and pre-existing partnership arrangements: In this option NGO partners could have access to CHF resources through any participating UN organization performing an additional oversight function. One of the possible downsides of this option is the increased administrative burden on NGOs that will need to enter into as many grant agreements as there are MAs, in order to access CHF funds. 2. UNDP: This option has been pursued in both Sudan and the DRC. The independent CHF evaluation of 2007 recognizes considerable progress made by UNDP since 2006 to streamline procedures and facilitate access to the CHFs by NGOs. However, it points out that UNDP does not currently have the appropriate technical staff to undertake impact or qualitative assessment of humanitarian operations by NGOs. 3. OCHA: The independent CHF evaluation of 2007 recommends that OCHA gradually takes responsibility for the Managing Agent function in the CHFs. However, it also points out that it does not yet have the institutional commitment or sufficient capacity to take it on. 4. Third party, UNOPS or private entity able to respond in full to the programmatic ownership of the portfolio entrusted by the HC: this option may result in an increase of the overall administrative and management costs of the fund, reducing resources available for the HC to 12 See UNDP’s Administrator Policy Note of 27 June 2007: “UNDP’s Accountability when acting as Administrative Agent in MDTFs and/or UN Joint Programmes using the pass-through fund management modality". Page 13 of 16
  • 14. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 target humanitarian interventions. Monitoring and Evaluation The CHF M&E system has to serve two main purposes: 1. Management information: required by sector leads and the HC to systematically track progress in the humanitarian response, especially those activities funded by the CHF. (This has to be real time.) 2. Accountability: making information available to donors to confirm the effective and efficient use of their funds. (This can usually be post hoc.) Key variables in designing the M&E system include: The spectrum of indicators, comprising the basic distinction between implementation indicators and effects indicators (Inputs → process → outputs → outcomes → impact). The key factor is that it is much easier to report outputs than to evaluate impact. Also, in a complex environment, impact usually cannot be attributed to any one project. The focal level of M&E: project-level (the most granular or microscopic level); sectoral-level; or strategic-level (the key indicators and analysis that summarise meaningfully the evolution of a humanitarian crisis and the response to it). Audiences or users of M&E information, and their distinct info needs: managers need real-time information to make strategic or operational decisions, whereas donors are usually content to receive accountability information after the fact. To get each variable right in combination with the others, the M&E scheme therefore comprises: Project-level output reporting, in real time for managerial purposes (hence to the HC via clusters), plus post hoc at project’s end for accountability as well as managerial purposes. Sectoral-level impact reporting, necessarily post hoc, and not trying to isolate CHF impact. Impact analyses will be post hoc (near or after the end of the year) for practical reasons, following final output-level reporting, but clusters are free to try to devise more real-time impact analyses, for the sector as a whole (not limited to the grants disbursed by CHF), according to an impact evaluation plan agreed with the HC as part of the CAP. This scheme can be usefully broadened into overall CAP M&E (as indeed DRC and Sudan are already doing) – not just the CHF-funded subset. The specific reporting requirements will be as follows: 1. The first element is project-level output reporting provided by CHF recipients to Cluster Lead/CHF Unit/HC, and available to donors who want to inspect it. The timing of the reporting should be aligned to the CAP cycle13, i.e. brief interim output-level reports for each grant in time for the Mid-Year Review and “year in review” section of the CAP for the following year – which means May and October14. A final narrative and financial report will be requested within one month of the expiry of each grant15, summarising the final project inputs and outputs. If the project has donors in addition to the CHF, the recipient is not required to isolate the “CHF- funded” outputs, as this has little meaning; however they should report on the other funding 13 14 However, in neither case shall a report be due less than two months after the grant is received. For example, if a grant is received in early April, the recipient is exempt from the May report. [EXPLANATORY NOTE: progress reporting on project implementation shortly after CHF grants are provided will not provide significant management information to stakeholders, but will still add to partners workload.] 15 According to a timeline defined by the terms of reference of the fund. Page 14 of 16
  • 15. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 sources, so that CHF management can attribute outputs to the CHF pro rata in case a donor requires it. In this way, project-level reporting shall be light as possible while still providing the necessary accountability and management information. 2. Clusters shall provide the HC and CHF management with an impact analysis for the sector as a whole, not limited to CHF-funded activities. As a rule of thumb, these impact analyses will usually be on an approximately annual basis (though variations are permissible; certain clusters may see the need for semi-annual analyses, or a rolling series of analyses in different regions, for example.) The method and scope will be agreed with the HC and specified and embedded in the CAP M&E plan. The impact analysis should include a consideration of relevant project outputs and gaps, though without an expectation of attributing impact to particular outputs (except in obvious cases like measles vaccination). Although impact reporting shall not be limited to CHF attributed achievements then in order to continuously improve the CHF as a strategic funding tool, clusters shall in their reporting reflect on how the CHF has impacted overall cluster performance. 3. The CHF (i.e. the HC and the CHF support units) will provide to donors: a. Interim reports, at the sectoral output level, contained in the CAP MYR and the “Year in review” section of the following CAP or in a dedicated CAP end-year report. (The interim project-level output reports can also be available to stakeholders who want to see them, probably on line). b. A CHF end-of-year report on the contribution of the CHF towards CAP delivery and humanitarian assistance. The report will cover programmatic, financial and fund management issues. c. Real-time financial info on income to and grants from the CHF, globally via FTS and locally through the in-country CHF website and via standard reports as agreed in the ToRs of the fund. These reporting requirements are fairly harmonised with those of the other types of pooled funds. Moreover, reporting burden on recipient organizations is light, in that it requires only output-level information which their internal reporting systems presumably prepare already for their internal management. However, bearing in mind that a CHF due to its fund volume and the nature of the allocation and prioritization process may provide numerous earmarked grants to each recipient organization, the issue of reporting burden shall always be kept in mind when designing a reporting framework. In addition to M&E activities directly related to the operation of the fund itself, it is also recommended that a broader evaluation of the CHF as a mechanism is undertaken yearly in each newly established CHF country and bi-annually is older ones (i.e. Sudan and DRC) by an independent evaluation team commissioned by the CHF donors. Information Management Effective information management is paramount when implementing Common Humanitarian Funds. The CHF process involves exchange, consolidation and dissemination of large amount of data as well as ongoing time critical communication with a large number of partners, and it is therefore important to have agreed and effective systems and procedures in place for managing all types of information. It is recommended that new CHFs draw on lessons learnt and systems developed in Sudan and DRC when establishing the CHF framework. Information management elements already available in Sudan and/or DRC include: • Templates/forms for: o Project proposals o CHF allocation proposals (standard and emergency reserve) o CHF meeting minutes/reports o CHF meeting guidelines o CHF project prioritization tool Page 15 of 16
  • 16. Common Humanitarian Fund – Interim Standardization Guidelines – Draft 08 • Sudan Logical Framework Database for management of and reporting against16: o CAP sector plans with performance indicators o CAP projects o CHF allocations o Financial Tracking o o The Logical Framework Database consist of a stand-alone offline Access database along with a web-based database serving as front-end for providing all stakeholder dynamic access to all CAP, CHF and financial tracking details through a dedicated website17. • Website/gateway for information on appeal/planning, CHF, financial tracking and M&E. The website offers: o Separate sections for each of the core elements. o Individual resource sections for making information (guidelines, templates, forms, timelines etc.) available to partners. o Message boards directly managed by cluster/sector leads for providing information to their partners. o Web-based on-line databases with search and filtering capability for:  Sector plans and indicators  Project information  CHF allocations  Financial Tracking CHF Toolbox – Key Reference Documents for Information Management Available on CD and website: Information Management • Examples of templates, forms and guidelines developed in Sudan and DRC • Description of Work Plan Logical Framework Database (Sudan) • Description of Work Plan Gateway ( (Sudan) • Guideline to on-line database platform (( (Sudan) • Description of Administrative Agent/Financial Fund Management function on the UNDP/MDTF Office website ( 16 In order to prepare for roll-out of CHFs in new countries OCHA Sudan has during the early part of 2008 initiated re-design of both the Logical Framework Database and the Website/gateway in order to make these country independent and configurable. 17 Page 16 of 16