OCHA is almost entirely dependent on voluntary contributions for its ability to deliver on its UN General Assembly mandate. With timely financial support, OCHA can play a critical role in ensuring that humanitarian funds are used strategically; filling gaps and avoiding duplication, targeting those who most need protection and relief, and ultimately saving more lives. Every cent spent on supporting OCHA should maximize the value of every dollar spent on direct programmes.
OCHA’s plan for 2012 is based on its 2010-2013 Strategic Framework. Delivery against the plan is budgeted at $285.4 million. An appropriation of 0.5 per cent from the global UN regular budget will cover $14.6 million in programme requirements. Programme support costs levied on spending will cover OCHA’s administrative budget of $36.4 million. OCHA is therefore asking Member States to make voluntary contributions of $234.4 million to cover its extra-budgetary programme budget. For 2013, OCHA’s indicative budget stands at $282 million, with $231 million required in voluntary contributions.
With significant humanitarian coordination challenges ahead, Member States are asked to disburse their contributions as early as possible in the first quarter of 2012. Member States are also requested to continue to show their support for OCHA’s mandate by providing flexible and predictable funding.
Where and how OCHA will spend its budget in 2012
OCHA’s budget for 2012 reflects a decision to invest in increased support to the field, particularly in relation to the support it provides to HCs, country teams and OCHA offices. Seventy per cent of OCHA’s budget covers staff costs. OCHA aims to deliver on its responsibilities in the field through 2,005 national and international staff in 2012 (see related chart).
Over 70 per cent of OCHA’s budget will be spent on activities supporting humanitarian coordination and advocacy in the field, making sure humanitarian relief is as effective as possible. Of this total, 56 per cent of OCHA’s global budget is dedicated to direct field-based humanitarian coordination, with an additional 14 per cent of the budget going towards headquarters support to the field. Budgeting by thematic area and by region is outlined in the charts below.
Income and financial management
OCHA’s financial and resource management saw further improvements in 2011. OCHA now has formal multi-year funding agreements with eight donors, which together account for predictable funding for approximately 30 per cent of annual requirements. The effort to broaden the donor base resulted in another eight new or returning Member States contributing to OCHA in 2011, compared with the preceding year. By mid-November, 43 Member States had provided voluntary contributions to OCHA in 2011.
Despite difficult economic conditions, the level of funding given to OCHA in 2011 represented a clear sign of confidence in OCHA’s direction and leadership. By the end of 2011, OCHA expects to raise over $20 million more from donors than in 2010. The percentage of fully unearmarked funding rose to 55 per cent compared with 44 per cent one year earlier (see chart).
In 2012, OCHA does not anticipate a continued upward trajectory in voluntary contributions in view of the challenging economic situation. OCHA has budgeted according to projected income. In 2012, it will place special emphasis on securing more predictable and flexible funding from existing donors, and on continuing to broaden OCHA’s funding base from a wider range of Member States and more varied sources of income. Thanks to improvements in budgeting, resource mobilization and financial management, in 2011 OCHA expects to cover projected expenditure in full from voluntary contributions, including those budgetary increases required by new emergencies. In 2012, OCHA aims to achieve the same objective.
Taking advantage of the healthy cash position in 2011, OCHA took a first step in replenishing its cash reserve, which had been heavily depleted in the preceding period. OCHA aims to maintain a cash reserve covering six months’ of staff costs and three months’ of operating costs. This would allow regular and adequate allocations of cash to parts of the organization that receive insufficient earmarked funds, to cover unforeseen crises and to offset late disbursements of donor pledges.
With humanitarian budgets uncertain in several major economies in 2012 and 2013, a healthy cash reserve is particularly vital. In 2012, OCHA anticipates that cash reserves will be sufficient to cover costs for four months across the entire organization, minimizing the administrative burden and freeing up resources to deliver on its mandate.
 All income data in this section includes paid and pledged contributions as at 15 November 2011