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Independent Review of the Value Added of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

RD Congo
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Date de publication
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Executive summary


  1. The humanitarian community in DRC has responded to multiple emergencies for over two decades. During 2012, the situation deteriorated given a surge in conflict in eastern DRC, alongside cholera and other epidemics which deepened the humanitarian crisis and increased needs. This report reviews the ‘value added’ of CERF funding to DRC in 2012, considering the indicators of the CERF’s Performance and Accountability Framework (PAF),1 key related questions and the cholera response. DRC has received CERF funding every year since the Fund’s inception in 2006 and is the largest recipient of CERF funding.2 The fund allocated US$ 31.5 million in four separate allocations in 2012. DRC also has an established Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), known locally as the ‘Pooled Fund’ that acts as an important source of funding closely related to CERF.

Value-added of the CERF

  1. The CERF added value to the broader humanitarian endeavour in DRC by supporting UN agency response capacity and furthering the overall functioning of parts of the system (i.e. Humanitarian Reform process). The Humanitarian Coordinator, appointed in the second half of 2012, found that he could leverage CERF funding to make UN cluster lead agencies more responsible and accountable, and help them access additional funding. For several UN agencies, CERF serves as a primary source of funding, without which their presence outside Kinshasa would be limited. CERF allocations helped strengthen the role of clusters at different levels, foster coordination and joint action on specific issues, fill gaps and provide a better balance of humanitarian aid within the country and, in certain cases, improve the overall efficiency of certain projects. Most UN agencies emphasised how critical CERF funding has been for their operations. For those interviewed, this was most apparent in terms of the response to cholera and issues of nutrition, as well as at a decentralised level in South Kivu and Katanga, where CERF provided funding from the UFE window. There was little evidence, however, that CERF funding led to increased alternative sources of funding.

  2. The CERF allocation process in DRC could ideally be more transparent and inclusive of other stakeholders, including donors. The decision-making process varied across allocations but was mostly carried out at a centralised level, where amounts per sector and per province were defined. In a large country like DRC, a fully inclusive process relying on the inter- and intra-cluster coordination framework would, however, not be feasible. The process would be too heavy and time-consuming for what are, in the context of DRC, few resources and funds that would invariably be spread too thin. Allocations were guided by life-saving criteria and contentiousness was limited.

  3. There is little clarity, however, on what triggers a request for CERF funding which would help better define CERF objectives in DRC that are coherent with predefined benchmarks and make the process more predictable. The role and added value of the CERF in the DRC context with respect to other funding sources is not always clear, even though the CERF and the CHF have, in many instances, been complementary. CERF was not seen as a rapid donor-enabling early action because it funds UN agencies that, in turn, have to channel resources through implementing partners. Its decision-making and project selection processes have not always been understood and the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) group in DRC in particular found that there was little value in the CERF intervening in the country, given the existence of CHF systems, which are considered more transparent and effective.

  4. Interviewees considered reporting and accountability with regards to the CERF to be weak and of less value as the information is not verifiable and there is limited participation and learning derived from the reporting exercise. The reporting process proved simpler than in previous years, but it remained challenging for OCHA DRC to compile the report given the predominant reliance on recipient agency reporting.

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