Flash appeal

UN OCHA coordinated with the government of Vanuatu and other UN agencies to launch a flash appeal for $29.9 million in 2015 to avoid a humanitarian disaster in the wake of cyclone Pam

Yesterday's front page story about funding for the Ambae evacuation used a number of terms interchangeably and may have caused confusion.

The article was based on a Council of Ministers decision paper which used a number of terms imprecisely.

The headline 'FLASH APPEAL' refers to the government of Vanuatu's decision to seek funding assistance from the international community. The phrase 'flash appeal' was used in the Council of Ministers decision dated April 12 2018, in which the CoM approved a number of measures to cope with the ongoing crisis on Ambae.

Additionally, reference was made to CERF, or Central Emergency Response Fund. 

Both of these funding mechanisms are UN-specific levers that serve specific purposes. In a nutshell, CERF is a pot of emergency funds allocated each year exclusively to UN agencies and to the IOM for use in life-saving circumstances. Given the 'slow and steady' approach to this evacuation effort, it's arguable whether CERF will come into the picture.

A Flash Appeal is also a UN-specific mechanism. It is effectively a slate of projects approved for funding by the disaster response group. Donors and development partners then pick and choose from what is effectively an à la carte menu of options, and decide which ones they want to fund. 

Both of these mechanisms are typically facilitated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA. Representatives from the OCHA office in Suva are expected to arrive in Vanuatu this week to facilitate funding and coordination of the Ambae evacuation effort.

CoM's announcement that all recovery funds will be managed through Treasury may have caused confusion in light of the above, as both of the funding mechanisms may only disburse funds to UN organisations. 

These CoM statements are not mutually exclusive. It is possible that all departmental spending could be funnelled through the department of finance in order to provide centralised accounting and control, and that UN-administered elements could be funded through established mechanisms such as a flash appeal. 

To date, however, no formal flash appeal has been launched, although aid organisations and development partners have begun receiving formal requests for assistance from the government of Vanuatu.

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