Skip to content

OCHA

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Mandated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 46/182 of December 1991 UNOCHA, or OCHA, coordinates humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies due to armed conflict or natural disaster.

OCHA is a relatively small UN agency with an annual budget of USD 241 million and 2.000 staff working in dual headquarters in New York and Geneva. Since 2017, OCHA has been headed by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Under Secretary General Mark Lowcock, a former Permanent Secretary of United Kingdom’s development organization DFID.

Upon a crisis, OCHA estimates the scale of the disaster and the needs for the different sectors (food assistance, shelter, clean water, health and protection) and assesses the financial resources needed to alleviate the humanitarian suffering. On this background, an appeal is launched to which donors can contribute.

OCHA carries out its coordination function primarily through the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), which is chaired by the Emergency Relief Coordinator. Participants include all humanitarian partners, from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, to the Red Cross movement and NGOs. The IASC ensures inter-agency decision-making in response to complex emergencies. These responses include needs assessments, consolidated appeals, field coordination arrangements and the development of humanitarian policies.
 
On the ground, OCHA collaborates with the twelve global clusters in the so-called cluster system, where relevant organisations with expertise in the specific areas organise their efforts. Each cluster is led by the UN organisation, which has the overall responsibility for the given area – e.g. the World Health Organisation (WHO) is lead for the Health Cluster – but also non-UN organisations are part of the clusters.
 
The Emergency Relief Coordinator is also the head of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which is UN’s mechanism for provision of time-critical, un-earmarked humanitarian assistance, covering long-lasting or “forgotten” crises as well.

Denmark is among the top ten donors to OCHA and the CERF. In 2017 Denmark made a core contribution to OCHA of DKK 30 million or USD 4.7 million, and distributed DKK 190 million or USD 30.2 million in emergency assistance through OCHA, plus DKK 87 million or USD 14 million to the CERF. 

For more information on OCHA, see www.unocha.org
 
Edited January 11, 2018 
 

 

Danida