Contract holder: The KonTerra Group

Lead Consultant: Silvia Hidalgo (DAHLIA)

Team members: Dorian Laguardia (Methodology Expert), Martin Fisher (Evaluator), Cécile Collin (Evaluator), Nathan Horst (Researcher)

Evaluation of the Common Humanitarian Funds (CHFs)

In collaboration with The KonTerra Group, a 5-member team has evaluated the Common Humanitarian Funds covering the period from January 2011 to September 2014.

Context and Aims of the Evaluation

The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) is a country level pooled funding mechanism borne out of the 2005 Humanitarian Reform Agenda which focused on improving the international community’s ability to achieve more effective and timely humanitarian responses, with better prioritisation of resources, and more comprehensive, people-centred, needs-based relief and protection. One of the three key reform objectives focused on financing and specifically the need to ensure that funding for emergency response is needs-driven, timely, flexible and predictable. The CHF is one of various pooled funding mechanisms that emerged or were strengthened in the context of the Humanitarian Reform Agenda. CHFs are currently present in six countries with large protracted humanitarian operations. The geographic scope of the evaluation is global although five CHFs were covered in detail: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan; with comparisons where relevant and possible with the most recent CHF in Afghanistan.

The evaluation assessed the contribution of the CHF mechanism to the humanitarian response, and its role among the funding instruments. The contribution of CHFs to the collective results of the humanitarian community; to building resilience to future disasters; to the humanitarian reform process, including strengthening leadership, coordination structures, planning processes, and partnerships as well as strengthening the timeliness, coherence and quality of the humanitarian response. It looked into the effectiveness of monitoring, reporting, and evaluation systems in providing information on results, assisting in fund management, ensuring credibility, and influencing wider humanitarian action. The appropriateness of risk management practices was also analyzed.


The evaluation concluded that the CHF funds strengthened humanitarian response by providing a flexible funding source in fluid contexts to meet needs and gaps not covered by other funding courses, promoting the collective prioritization of activities, and supporting INGO and NNGO programming.

It also found that CHF allocation processes improved participation, coordination, and information sharing in collective humanitarian response. They also fostered better prioritization and higher quality of proposals, thus better implementation. This was also complemented by improved reporting. It found, however, that some of these improvements must be better balanced with the need for more rapid disbursements. For instance, the evaluation found that the greater inclusiveness and transparency of the allocation process sometimes slowed down disbursements, which decreased the value of the CHF as a rapid funding instrument.

The evaluation further found that the Funds cannot keep pace with the increases in assessed needs, in particular in protracted crises. The decline in funding for CHFs means that they are less able to provide predictable funding, with reduced influence accordingly on the coverage of identified humanitarian needs. The evaluation concluded that, given these constraints, the focus of CHFs should remain on life-saving humanitarian response activities, while integrating resilience as an approach when feasible, and making more robust efforts to link and refer longer-term projects to development funding mechanisms.

The evaluation has identified a number of areas where improvements or changes would make a difference in the operation of the funds, and provides a series of forward-looking recommendations to address them. The intention is to contribute to further developing the CHF as an effective funding mechanism, with the support of all OCHA branches, and to inform future Country Based Pooled Funds implementation on the basis of learning and experience.

The evaluation was presented at the June meeting of the Pooled Fund Working Group in Geneva. OCHA will coordinate the preparation of the Management Response Plan, outlining actions that will be taken in response to the recommendations of the evaluation.

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