OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)

OCHA profile

  • Overview

    OCHA’s mission is to mobilise and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to:

    • alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies
    • advocate for the rights of people in need
    • promote preparedness and prevention
    • facilitate sustainable solutions.

    In December 1991, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 46/182, designed to strengthen the United Nations’ response to both complex emergencies and natural disasters. In addition it aimed at improving the overall effectiveness of the UN’s humanitarian operations in the field.


    OCHA is based at United Nations Headquarters in New York and has another main office in Geneva and 30 regional and field offices.

    Every person affected by a disaster or conflict has the right to assistance. When a national government is unable to provide sufficient help, it may request international support. This support can come in the form of food and material aid, protection of rights, access to clean water, health services, information and other life-sustaining forms of assistance. OCHA tries to ensure assistance is effective and efficient and to reduce duplication and gaps.


    OCHA supports and facilitates the work of UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the Red Cross/Crescent Movement that deliver humanitarian services and assistance to people in need. It also works closely with governments, supporting them in their lead role for organising humanitarian response in emergency situations.


    OCHA provides emergency response tools at the start of a crisis. These include:

    • The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC)
    • Search and rescue coordination in accordance with the International Search and
    • Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Guidelines,
    • Civil-Military Coordination personnel,
    • Logistics coordination support;
    • Access to military assets as a last resort in disaster response,
    • Information management tools for use by humanitarian response agencies to assist in planning, response and coordination.
  • At the country level: In a country affected by a disaster or conflict, the ERC may appoint a Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). The HC has the overall responsibility for ensuring that response efforts are well organized and coherent. The HC works with government, international organizations, NGOs and affected communities. An OCHA office will be established to support Humanitarian Coordinator.
  • On policy issues related to humanitarian action: OCHA supports the development of common policy positions among humanitarian agencies and at the international level through the United Nations and other influential for a. Policy advice is also provided to affected countries.
  • Through advocacy on humanitarian issues: OCHA’s advocacy aims to speak out on behalf of people affected by humanitarian crises. Specific areas of concern include the protection of civilians, prevention of displacement, disaster preparedness and the efficiency of humanitarian response. Current advocacy priorities in 2009 at the global level are focused on:
    • Internal displacement
    • Climate change
    • Gender-based violence
  • Through information outlets:
    • The Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) which provides news and information through text and radio services. IRIN also enhances advocacy efforts through the provision of materials – photos, films and reports – to highlight current crises.
    • ReliefWeb is the global hub for time-critical humanitarian information on Complex Emergencies and Natural Disasters
    • OCHA Online – OCHA’s Website (http://ochaonline.un.org/) provides an overview of key issues and challenges facing the humanitarian community as well as hosting OCHA’s advocacy materials.
    • OCHA’s Public Information Unit provides press releases, op-eds, briefing notes, talking points and key messages on a variety of issues, events and situations of major concern.
  • Through funding for humanitarian action:
    OCHA is a strong advocate of the global effort to move towards a predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system and is active in improving the way in which the international humanitarian system seeks and manages funding. Through its participation in the Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative OCHA aims to contribute to improving the quality and quantity of humanitarian funding.
    • The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF): The CERF aims to promote early action and response to reduce loss of life, enhance response to time-critical requirements, and strengthen core elements of humanitarian response in under-funded crises.
    • The Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), established in 1992, is a cycle of strategic planning, from the development of a Common Humanitarian Action Plan to resource mobilization (leading to a Consolidated Appeal or Flash Appeal), coordinated implementation and joint monitoring and evaluation.
    • Financial Tracking Service (FTS) – which is a global, real-time database that records all reported international humanitarian aid.
    • Funding and in-kind support from the private sector.

    • Total International staff – 613
    • Total local/national staff – 1,182
    • TOTAL OCHA STAFF 2009 – 1,795


    OCHA’s 2009 requirements for implementing its activities at HQ and Field amount to USD 239,617 million. OCHA expects to finance this through:

    • Regular Budget – USD12.292 million
    • Extrabudgetary – USD 227,324 million

    For more information, please click on: http://ochaonline.un.org/

    Preferences in private sector partnership

    The most effective way to ensure that vital humanitarian relief reaches the vulnerable and the needy is to contribute to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF):

    What is CERF and How Can I Support it?

    In 2005, in the context of a slow response to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the overwhelming response to the Asian tsunami, the United Nations undertook a major reform of the humanitarian system. For years, the world would too often witness vulnerable people receiving—or not receiving—assistance based on geopolitical considerations, levels of media coverage, and the amount of resources available to aid groups. This system was no system at all, but rather a lottery that countries could win or lose, with life or death consequences.

    The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was launched by the United Nations Secretary General on 09 March 2006. With a US$450 million grant element, the CERF is now used to provide urgently-needed funds within the first few hours of a sudden onset crisis, jump-starting operations when most lives are lost, or saved. This is done through the Fund’s “rapid response window.”

    In addition, one-third of CERF funding each year goes through an “under-funded emergencies window,” where poorly-financed but urgently-needed humanitarian programmes in “forgotten emergencies” around the world are supported.

    Funds are targeted at a wide range of programmes, so long as they are life-saving and time-critical. Since allocations are based on requests coming from the humanitarian workers on the ground, closest to the needs, the CERF is a “smarter” and more flexible funding mechanism. It consistently serves as an equalizer, acting like a hedge against imbalances in funding among emergencies, appeals and sectors.

    Since its inception, the CERF has allocated more than $1.2 billion to humanitarian efforts in 70 countries around the world. Please donate now: The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)

    With your donation, you are helping the United Nations provide rapid disaster relief and save lives in emergencies. To contribute, please go to https://www.rapiddisasterrelief.org

    You may also wish to access the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) page – a global, real-time database which records all reported international humanitarian aid (including bilateral, in-kind, and private contributions) in order to report your contribution or review aid statistics at http://ocha.unog.ch/fts/pageloader.aspx

    Otherwise, OCHA’s emergency response coordination work would also greatly benefit from:

    • computer and communications equipment and services (hardware preferred);
    • professional services and expertise;
    • in-kind contributions such as basic, non-food, non-medical emergency relief items such as water purification, sotrage and distributions systems, shelter equipment, blankets, tools, generators, kitchen equipment sets, etc.. For more specific listings of in-kind contributions, please see OCHA/LSU website
    Preferred partnership types

    Advocacy of global issues; Project funding; Provision of goods; Provision of services / personnel; Standards and guidelines development

    Sustainable Development Goals

    1. No poverty; 2. Zero hunger; 5. Gender equality; 8. Decent work and economic growth; 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure; 10. Reduced inequalities; 11. Sustainable cities and communities; 12. Responsible consumption and production; 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

    Issue areas

    Food and Agriculture; Gender Equality; Human Rights; Human Trafficking; Indigenous Peoples; Peace; Persons with Disabilities; Poverty; Principle 1; Principle 2; Women's Empowerment


    Jul 2010 - Pakistan: Floods; Jan 2010 - Haiti: Earthquakes; Yemen; Chad; State of Palestine; West Africa; Kenya; Zimbabwe; Uganda; Dem. Rep. of Congo; Afghanistan; Central African Republic; Iraq; Sudan; Somalia

    Regions / countries / territories

    Africa: 24 countries (click to show)
    Burkina Faso; Burundi; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo (Democratic Republic of the); Cote d'Ivoire; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Madagascar; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Niger; Senegal; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Togo; Uganda; Zimbabwe
    Americas: 11 countries (click to show)
    Bolivia; Colombia; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Guatemala; Haiti; Jamaica; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru; United States
    Asia: 12 countries (click to show)
    Afghanistan; Georgia; Indonesia; Japan; Kazakhstan; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Philippines; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Timor Leste
    Europe: 51 countries (click to show)
    Aland Islands (Finland); Albania; Andorra; Austria; Azores; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Channel Islands; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Faeroe Islands; Finland; France; Gibraltar; Greece; Holy See; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Isle of Man; Italy; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Madeira (Portugal); Malta; Monaco; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Republic of Moldova; Romania; Russian Federation; San Marino; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (Norway); Sweden; Switzerland; The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Ukraine; United Kingdom
    Middle East: 11 countries (click to show)
    Algeria; Egypt; Iran; Iraq; Jordan; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; State of Palestine; Syrian Arab Republic; United Arab Emirates; Yemen
    Oceania: 2 countries (click to show)
    Fiji; Papua New Guinea

    Type(s) of services / business sectors

    Automobiles & Parts; Banks; Basic Resources; Chemicals; Construction & Materials; Financial Services; Food & Beverage; Health Care; Industrial Goods & Services; Industrial Goods & Services - Support Services; Insurance; Media; Oil & Gas; Other; Personal & Household Goods; Real Estate; Technology; Telecommunications; Travel & Leisure; Utilities


    Description Date
    UNISDR, OCHA, UNDP & The Connecting Business Initiative: Preparing And Responding To Emergencies 12 Sep 2016
    Pro bono technical development services for Connecting Business global portal (website) 10 Apr 2016
    The business case for private sector engagement in emergency preparedness and response 30 Nov 2015
    Support the Common Feedback Project: Give those affected by the Nepal Earthquake access to information and feedback opportunities 11 May 2015
    Private Sector Communications Strategy 13 Oct 2014
    Deployable emergency office in containers 05 May 2011
    Disaster in Japan: How to Help - Contact persons at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs 14 Mar 2011
    Libyan Crisis: How to Help 14 Mar 2011
    Humanitarian Funding needed for the Cholera Response in Haiti 11 Nov 2010
    Nutrition In-Kind Donations for Pakistan Emergency: Relief Items Requested by the Nutrition Cluster 20 Aug 2010
    In-Kind Donations for Emergency Heath Services in Pakistan: Relief Items Requested by the Health Cluster 20 Aug 2010
    Shelter and Non Food Items In-Kind Donations for Pakistan Emergency: Relief Items Requested by the Shelter Cluster 20 Aug 2010
    Food In-Kind Donations for Pakistan Emergency: Relief Items Requested by the Food Cluster 20 Aug 2010
    Water, Sanitation and Hygiene In-Kind Donations for Pakistan Emergency: Relief Items Requested by the WASH Cluster 20 Aug 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Pakistan - Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan 2010 16 Aug 2010
    Kyrgyzstan Flash Appeal June 2010 21 Jun 2010
    Guatemala Flash Appeal- Tropical Storm Agatha - 11 June 2010 17 Jun 2010
    Mongolia 2010 Dzud - Humanitarian Appeal 17 Jun 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Haiti 2010 16 Jan 2010
    Humanitairan Appeal for Zimbabwe 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Yemen 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian appeal for West Africa 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Sudan 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Somalia 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for the State of Palestine 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Kenya 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for the Democratic Republic of Congo 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Chad 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Central African Republic 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Afghanistan 11 Jan 2010
    Humanitarian Appeal for Uganda 11 Jan 2010
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