8.7 Humanitarian Funding in the Context of Development Funding
  • 07 Dec 2023
  • 5 Minutes to read
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8.7 Humanitarian Funding in the Context of Development Funding

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Article summary

Humanitarian funding is provided within a wider context of development funding mechanisms and processes at country level. It is important that the Coordinator understands this wider funding landscape (especially the food security sector-related funding environment) and understands that decision-making on allocation of humanitarian funding at country level (e.g. CERF and CBPF) takes these other resources into consideration.

Mandates, Objectives and Underlying Drivers of Crisis:

While humanitarian and development actors and donors have different mandates and objectives (see text box), they increasingly operate in similar contexts. For humanitarians, the imperative is to respond to urgent needs wherever they arise. However, in a context of growing needs, limited funds and protracted crises becoming longer, the need to address underlying drivers in countries affected by protracted crises, in particularly poverty, is becoming more pressing. Therefore, the role of wider development actors and funding is also becoming increasingly important.  

Humanitarian aid (principled, impartial, neutral, independent) is designed to save lives and alleviate suffering during and in the immediate aftermath of emergencies, whereas development aid (often through governments as primary partners) responds to ongoing structural issues, systemic poverty, and assists in building capacity to ensure resilient communities and sustainable livelihoods.

If a crisis escalates, official development assistance (ODA) may slow down as humanitarian funding increases but there is a continued rationale for pooled development funds to remain engaged. This is especially the case in protracted and predictable emergencies where pooled development funds can help channel support to address vulnerabilities, supporting longer-term recovery and build resilience in fragile countries – see text box below on pooled development funds.

Key Pooled Development Funds

The main pooled mechanisms currently used by the UN system are multi-partner trust funds (MDTFs) i.e. contributions are not entity-specific but aim to support broader UN system-level functions in a specific geography or thematic area (see also 8.4 on other types of pooled funding). They can either be UN or nationally managed and include UN MDTFs, National MDTFs and stand-alone Joint Programmes.  

Some of the most common (non-humanitarian) pooled funds are below:

Development Funds: 

Transition Funds  

Climate Funds:

Beyond pooled development funds, multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions traditionally associated with development activity, have become increasingly active in countries experiencing humanitarian crises. This includes the provision of support for countries in times of major macroeconomic shocks to alleviate the consequences of crises - which can overlap with the mandate of traditional humanitarian actors. For example, the World Bank, through its Crisis Response Window (CRW) financing mechanism, has provided significant funding to countries experiencing humanitarian crises, especially to earthquakes, drought and public health emergencies but also for early responses to slower-onset events namely food insecurity (CRW funding is usually requested by and channelled to country governments with exceptions in fragile contexts).

What does this mean for the FSC?
The overall link with development (and peace) is one emphasized by all key players in the global humanitarian architecture (IASC, OPAG, GSSG – see 1.4) and one which is already a reality in some countries (see more on the Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus in 10.2). In certain cases, in light of growing funding gaps, it may be relevant for food security sector partners to consider the possibility of incorporating non-traditional funding streams into their efforts to mobilise the necessary resources to cover gaps. The FSC may support such efforts however, this is very country specific and not a core FSC (or Coordinator) task.

What is the Role of the Coordinator?

It is the responsibility of the Coordinator, working with the CLAs, to identify which in-country food security funding mechanisms and/or donors are of relevance to the FSC. In certain contexts, this may include non-traditional funding streams such as development pooled funds, development donors and MDBs.  

As relevant and as agreed with CLAs, the Coordinator could consider the following (this section refers specifically to development funding and non-traditional donors - see 8.2 for overall role of the Coordinator in “traditional” resource mobilisation): 

  • Acquire a clear picture of the wider funding landscape in country by liaising with development actors and development donors to map their activities, coverage/area, and funding. This could include being aware of the priorities of the key development funding mechanisms and donors and the geographical coverage of each (and if relevant, of any national food security / agricultural development plan which such donors may be funding). This can help to ensure that efforts to mobilize humanitarian funding for an emergency food security response and that financial allocations through, for example, CBPFs (8.4.2) take into account the wider food security funding mix, ensuring complementarity of programming where possible.
    For example in Chad, as part of the efforts to support strengthened HDP coordination, the FSC has mapped the donors (humanitarian and development donors) - see more in 10.2.3.  
  • Where relevant, engage and share relevant information with these actors, donors and key development funding mechanisms - including with MDBs. It is not the role of the FSC Coordinators to negotiate directly with such financial institutions, but it can be useful to be aware of, and contribute to, ongoing discussions.  
  • In new emergencies, support the CLAs where relevant in encouraging development donors to continue to provide assistance for the food security sector and, in specific situations, to provide additional development support to allow ongoing or increased coverage of food security activities that address vulnerability and promote resilience. 
  • As the FSC transitions and deactivates, the Coordinator (with the CLAs) can encourage development actors and donors to support basic services and coordination functions where relevant (see also 3.8 on transition). 

TIP: There is a growing commitment around the need to strengthen synergies between humanitarian, development, and peace action, including around crisis financing. However, while there are examples of increasing collaboration in protracted crises, this is not yet systematic. Nonetheless, the growing focus on the ‘nexus’ is likely to shape the strategic approach of HRP s in many countries to some extent - see 10.2 for details on the humanitarian, development, and peace nexus with examples of FSC involvement.


See an overview of useful WFP resources on pooled funds (including this UN Pooled Funds Guidance for Country Offices, WFP 2021).

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