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FLASH APPEALS and CERF. CAP SECTION OCHA-GENEVA. What is a Flash Appeal?. Part of the Consolidated Appeals Process, the humanitarian sector ’ s main tool for coordination, strategic planning and programming.

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What is a Flash Appeal?

  • Part of the Consolidated Appeals Process, the humanitarian sector’s main tool for coordination, strategic planning and programming.

  • A tool that provides an overview of urgent life-saving needs, within a week of the emergency's onset.

  • Contains rapid needs assessment information, a common humanitarian action plan, and specific sectoral response plans and projects.

  • Addresses acute needs for up to six months (and can be developed into a consolidated appeal if the emergency continues beyond six months).

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What is the Flash Appeal's rationale?

  • To avoid competing and overlapping appeals;

  • To provide a framework for strategic, coordinated, and inclusive programming;

  • To serve as an inventory or catalogue of priority humanitarian project proposals, and a barometer of funding response.

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What warrants an Appeal?

  • Any crisis or disaster needing humanitarian response that (a) exceeds the capacity of the affected country government, and (b) exceeds the capacity and/or mandate of any one UN agency.

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GA Resolution 46/182 :

“For emergencies requiring a consolidated response, the Secretary-General should ensure that an initial Consolidated Appeal covering all concerned organisations of the system, prepared in consultation with the affected State, is issued within the shortest possible time…”

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Who is involved?

  • Resident Coordinator / Humanitarian Coordinator (leading the process, with OCHA’s support)

  • UN Agencies

  • Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement

  • NGOs (international and local)

  • Donors (field office reps)

  • Affected country government. (The appeal is done in consultation with the government.)

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Indicative Timeframe from disaster/crisis onset

Day 1

  • UN HC/RC triggers Flash Appeal – consults IASC country team – Government consulted.

    Day 2-3

  • UNCT conducts rapid needs assessment and prepares Flash Appeal.

    Day 4

  • CAP Section shares draft with IASC HQs for 24 hr review

    Day 5

  • CAP Section processes & electronically publishes the document

  • Official launch of appeal

    (Because all this has to happen very fast with imperfect information, flash appeals are routinely revised a few weeks after the first edition.)

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1st/2nd editions:

Compromise between speed and precision: no one expects the early first edition to be comprehensive. You’re only expected to do the best you can with the fragmentary info available, plus good inference.

The second edition (or revision) is prepared when better info is available—usually 4-6 weeks later. It includes more early recovery.

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Content of a Flash Appeal

  • Executive Summary

  • Context and Humanitarian Consequences / Needs

  • Response Plans per sector(incl. project summaries)

  • Roles and Responsibilities

  • Tables of project funding requirements (per agency, per sector, etc.)

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Is Flash Appeal funding channelled through OCHA?

No…In most cases, agencies negotiate their funding directly with donors. In funding terms, the appeal therefore serves as an inventory of project proposals.



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Sector leads have a crucial role :

  • Leading rapid needs assessments

  • Setting sectoral strategy and priorities

  • Gathering project proposals inclusively (incl. NGOs), but also…

  • Vetting projects ‘ruthlessly.’


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Your job as Sector leads re appeal projects :

  • Get all actors to the table.

  • Identify highest-priority needs, and make sure projects are proposed that cover those. (These form the top-priority projects in the appeal.)

  • Gather other proposals and filter them, applying criteria of relevance to need, feasibility (within timeframe, agency capacity, & operating environment), etc.

  • Try to stimulate proposals to fill gaps. Call in more capacity if needed.

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Flash Appeal = strategic response plan which includes a set (“catalogue”) of projects and request for funds

CERF = source of funds, i.e. donor

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Relationship between CERF Rapid Response Window and Flash Appeals:

  • Situations requiring CERF funds should normally also generate a Flash Appeal. The HC allocates available CERF funds to the highest-priority FA projects.

  • CERF provides the initial injection of funds for the most urgent life-saving projects in the Flash Appeal to cover the time lag between issuance of the Appeal and receipt of commitments and funds from donors

  • Ideal: Simultaneously prepare Flash appeal and prioritize projects within it for CERF funding; show CERF allocations in summary financial tables within Flash Appeal document (if already decided).

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Why do both a CERF request and a Flash Appeal? Appeals:

  • Major emergencies require a strategic plan, not a series of disconnected projects.

  • Most emergencies need more funding than CERF can provide.

  • Most also need humanitarian actions that are more holistic than those meeting CERF’s strict life-saving criterion.

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Roles and Responsibilities: Rapid Response Appeals:

** Project Prioritization and Selection is a field-driven process led by the RC/HC. Agencies cannotsubmit proposals directly to the ERC. **

RC/HC convenes CT meeting to discuss needs & response gaps, and to set priorities for CERF funding; RC/HC selects projects based on needs and formally submits the grant request package to the ERC

ERC approves an allocation (usually a percentage of the overall requirement for the emergency response) and requests a grant package from the RC/HC

  • In consultation with the Country Team and based on needs assessments, RC/HC triggers Flash Appeal and requests CERF funds for priority life-saving needs

ERC approves project proposals in grant request package, and funds are disbursed to each agency Headquarters

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UNHCR Appeals:



Less CERF allocation $33,878

Net requirements: $46,116

Project title: Refugee feeding programme

Objectives: Timely and adequate food is available for new refugee arrivals, particularly vulnerable groups.

Implementation: Wet feeding at the border towns for new arrivals

Beneficiaries – 80,000 persons

Example of Flash Appeal project box

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Consolidated Appeal Appeals:

A Consolidated Appeal is, basically, a longer version of a Flash Appeal (usually 12 months), for longer-term crises, offering more analysis and detail.

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UN/IOM and NGOs in FA Appeals:Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Domenican Republic

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Comparison of Funding to FA in 2007 Appeals: Latin America and the Caribbean

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Any questions? Appeals:

Laura Calvio

CAP Section, OCHA-Geneva

Tel. +41-22-917-11874 / Fax +41-22-917-0097

Room 304, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

e-mail: calvio@un.org