Geneva, 21 June – Representatives of WHO and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) focused their annual financial and management review meeting on strengthening their 18-year partnership to prevent and respond to humanitarian crises.
Both agencies provided updates: WHO on its emergency operations and the WHO Global Health Appeal, and OCHA on its funding mechanisms for emergencies and strategic priorities. Discussions also touched on the urgency of early data sharing in disease outbreaks and the role of innovation in emergency prevention and response – both examples of joint priorities and areas of collaboration moving forward.
“OCHA and WHO share a responsibility to deliver to those in need, wherever and whenever emergencies or disasters occur,” said Graham McNeill of WHO’s Department of Strategic Engagement, who participated in the 21 June meeting.
Alice Armanni Sequi, Chief of OCHA’s Pooled Fund Management Branch, said OCHA and WHO must work together innovatively “to get the most value out of our resources for the people we serve. It is also important to articulate our strategic impact in funding proposals, and demonstrate how funds are being catalytic in humanitarian operations” she added.
WHO staff thanked OCHA for the longstanding partnership and recognized the contributions received by WHO through the different mechanisms that enable the agencies’ lifesaving work.
OCHA contributed US$ 201 million to WHO in 2020-21, making it WHO’s third largest donor for outbreak, crisis and response. OCHA provides funds for WHO’s work through two pooled funding mechanisms: the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Country-Based Pool Funds (CBPFs). In 2022, WHO received US$64 million from CERF and US$ 43 million from CBPFs.
Recent examples where CERF and CBPFs have supported WHO’s health emergencies and humanitarian response are: armed conflicts in Ukraine, Northern Ethiopia and South Sudan; the aftermath of Syria’s massive earthquake and Vanuatu’s cyclones; cholera outbreaks in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe; drought and hunger in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel region, Kenya and Afghanistan; and outbreaks of Ebola, cholera, COVID-19 and Dengue fever around the globe.
CERF finances rapid response to humanitarian operations and neglected crises, while CBPFs, now operating in 19 countries, support local humanitarian efforts and complement other such funding. These ways of funding enable WHO to immediately respond to disease outbreaks, conflicts, natural disasters and protracted humanitarian crises. The funds fill the gap when no other financing exists or is not immediately available.