By NGOs for NGOs: A standby disaster fund

A glass jar of money. A central emergency disaster fund has been proposed by the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies. Photo by: Tax Credits / CC BY-SA

Among criticisms of the international humanitarian system is that it is often poorly integrated and coordinated when responding to big emergencies. One solution proposed by some members of the community themselves: a central emergency disaster fund.

The establishment and use of a new emergency fund, as envisioned by the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies, would allow local and international nongovernmental organizations to access money more easily during emergencies, Michael Edwards of think tank Demos explains on the Guardian. The fund would act as a bank channeling aid to front-line agencies as well as a firewall between donors’ interest and actual needs on the ground, he adds.

The fund is different from existing similar structures like the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund or the United Kingdom’s Disasters Appeals Committee in that funding decisions will be based on peer reviews by the implementing agencies, which are the NGOs themselves, Edwards adds. The review is to be based on a unitary framework based on need, impact and quality.

Edwards does note: “A fund like this faces lots of questions about how it would actually work and be governed.” Additionally, putting up such a fund will need new funders “prepared to break free of their bad habits by putting large-scale resources into mechanisms they trust but do not control.”

How effective would the use of such a fund be in improving the humanitarian system’s efficiency? Have your say in the comments section below.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.