OCHA’s Financial Context
In September 2016, OCHA’s Executive Management Committee (EMC) agreed to an
indicative 2017 Budget planning target of $260m. This was based on an analysis of income
trends in recent years, the level of our existing cash reserves, and the importance of ensuring
we have sufficient cash at the start of 2018 to operate. Given UN financial rules, we must
maintain a minimum reserve totalling three months of staff salaries, and we cannot borrow or
run a budget deficit.
Over the last five years stable donor contributions to OCHA have averaged $235m per year.
Our annual programme expenditure reached $282m in 2015 and a similar level is expected to
be reached in 2016. OCHA was able to support this gap between income and expenditure
due to cash reserves that had been accumulated in previous years. In consultation with our
donors, OCHA senior management decided that we should utilize these cash reserves to
respond to the growing demands on OCHA’s services, and to address the humanitarian needs
of the day. However, those cash reserves have now been depleted and our core donors have
not provided us with the additional funds required to fill the gap between our income and
expenditure. The humanitarian budgets of our main donor partners are extremely tight, with
many other UN agencies facing similar resource constraints. Although OCHA makes up a
tiny percentage of spending in the humanitarian system, donors continually need to be
persuaded that we offer value-for-money for their taxpayers.
In September, a group of eight donors announced that they would provide OCHA with an
‘emergency package’ of financial support in 2016. This was recognition on their part of
OCHA’s indispensable role in the humanitarian ecosystem, the high quality work that we
produce, and the services that we provide. It was also an acknowledgement of our collective
efforts to drive change internally through the Functional Review, prioritize, and ensure that
we are fit-for-purpose to address the humanitarian challenges of the future. This means that
OCHA’s income in 2016 will reach $260m. However, this group of donors were clear that
this additional funding was a one-off to help us manage through this transitional year and that
we should not expect similar levels of funding in 2017.
One of our key priorities now is to find ways to attract increased donor investment in OCHA
in future years. In order to be successful in achieving this we must continue to deliver the
high quality work for which we are renowned, and to demonstrate that we represent excellent
value-for-money. We must also show our partners that we do not intend to stand still by
driving forward the change management process, developing a robust new strategic plan for
2018-21, and presenting a 2018 budget that shows that we are focused on our priorities and
comparative advantages.
2017 Budget Allocations
OCHA’s budget is derived from different sources. For 2017, we have an extra-budgetary
programme budget of $260m. In addition, OCHA receives a Regular Budget allocation of
$15 (excluding the UN Monitoring Mechanism for Syria). OCHA from 2017 onwards will
also receive $18m from the contributions made to the Country Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs)
to support oversight and management of the CBPFs. OCHA also generates Programme
Support Costs (PSC) from extra-budgetary funded activity. From this, OCHA has set a

budget of $28m for 2017. The PSC budget is used to cover administrative and information
communication technology support provided to OCHA from service providers, by OCHA
itself (ASB and part of ISB), as well as headquarters oversight and support to CBPFs.
Finally, OCHA is funding $14.7m of field administration costs from funds that have been
released back to OCHA as a consequence of accounting changes by the Department of
OCHA Executive Management Committee will continue to monitor the evolution of OCHA’s
financial situation on a monthly basis.
The Strategic Approach to the 2017 Budget
The Budget Review Committee recognized the importance of taking a strategic approach to
allocating our constrained resources. It is important to emphasize that the BRC was adamant
that we would not take a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to reducing our budget, with each cost-plan
simply being reduced by 11.5% to meet the budget target. The BRC took steps to protect
and prioritize certain areas of our work, and reduce our expenditure in other parts of the
organization to reach the budget ceiling. I set out some of the core principles for how these
decisions were made in my message of 18 November, but I wanted to provide further detail.
Firstly, the BRC was guided by the need for OCHA to fulfil its mandate. We are ultimately
accountable to the General Assembly for delivering against our mandate 46/182, which is
twenty-five years old this month. Our mandate sets out five critical core functions:
coordination, policy, advocacy, information management and resource mobilization. Despite
our tough financial context, the BRC recognized that we needed sufficient resources invested
in each of these core functions to be able to fulfil our mandate. We also needed to ensure that
we provided an appropriate level of funding for administrative and support capacity which
are essential to delivering these core functions.
Secondly, OCHA’s Strategic Plan was also a key driver of decision making for resource
allocation in the 2017 budget. Since 2014, OCHA has achieved a great deal of which we can
all be proud, both at the global level and on the ground in emergency settings, and we remain
on track to meet most of our strategic performance metrics.
Thirdly, the BRC recognized that we needed to provide a small investment to follow up on
two important processes from 2016 – the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and the
Functional Review. On the WHS, the BRC was keen to support those sections, branches and
field offices that had sought to mainstream WHS follow-up into their workplans and
costplans. The BRC also agreed on the need for a small investment at headquarters to ensure
we can drive the WHS outcomes throughout the wider humanitarian system.
In order to implement the recommendations emanating from the Functional Review, we used
additional earmarked funding from one donor to establish a Change Management Unit to
ensure senior-level and dedicated focus on the implementation of change in OCHA. The
change management process is critical to our organization and our future prospects of
attracting increased investment, and we are fortunate that we are able to establish the CMU
without diverting resources from other parts of OCHA’s core operations.
Having agreed on these high-level principles, the BRC sought to apply them to our budgeting
for the both the field and headquarters. In determining our budget for the field in 2017, the

BRC used established criteria in OCHA’s Lifecycle of Operations as the guiding framework.
This framework takes into account a range of factors to determine the size of and requirement
for an OCHA presence in a country or region. This includes, inter alia, the number of people
in need, partners and humanitarian actors present, the humanitarian architecture and number
of clusters, the size of the humanitarian appeal, the complexity of the crisis, the national
capacity, and risk analysis, including from the Index for Risk Management.
At headquarters, while similar metrics cannot be applied, the BRC recognized the importance
of protecting those functions that would enhance field effectiveness, ensure that OCHA was
ready to respond to emergencies rapidly and allowed us to carry out other key global,
mandated functions.
OCHA’s Field Presence and Capacity
The 2017 Budget will lead to significant adjustments to OCHA’s footprint in the field with a
reduction in presence and fewer staff across the board. 164 staff members holding Fixed
Term, Continuing or Permanent appointments will be impacted.
In line with the Life Cycle of Operations analysis and Corporate Emergency designation, the
2017 field budget has seen lower cuts to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia and
Nigeria, while also scaling up our presence in Libya and Cameroon.
In line with planning guided by the lifecycle of operations analysis, OCHA will close its
presence in three countries in 2017: Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.
Downsizing will also be accelerated in those locations identified for a gradual transition of
OCHA’s presence, including Colombia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Philippines and Haiti
(despite the continuing susceptibility to natural disasters). OCHA will be unable to establish
a presence in Madagascar, Malawi or Zimbabwe, where El Nino has had a devastating impact
resulting in a significant humanitarian caseload. OCHA’s presence at the sub-national level
in a number of countries will also be reduced. We will close ten sub-offices in six countries.
OCHA’s operational capacity and field presence will be reduced in the largest protracted
crises, including in Afghanistan, DRC, Sudan and Somalia.
Across the world, there will be significantly less OCHA capacity for preparedness and
partnership, particularly with the closure of the Regional Office for Southern Africa and the
initiation of closing long-established regional presences in Cairo and Almaty. These reduced
‘regional’ presences will see a decreased investment in response preparedness capacity in
countries where OCHA does not have a presence. OCHA’s partnership engagement will also
be reduced, particularly investment in building relations with developing and middle-income
countries. This loss of partnership capacity will not be fully compensated by HQ-level
support, although work will continue at headquarters to build operational partnerships
through emergency response mechanisms such as UNDAC, INSARAG.
OCHA Capacity at Headquarters (New York & Geneva)
Corporate Programme Division (CPD)
In CPD, 6 staff members holding Fixed Term, Continuing or Permanent appointments will be
impacted. The BRC agreed that the main priorities for the division in 2017 would be


Humanitarian Financing, WHS follow-up, and improvements in the systems and tools to
improve effectiveness (Microsoft Global office, digital strategy).
For Humanitarian Financing, SCB will focus their resources more on resource mobilization
and advocacy for the pooled funds, with ISB supporting through the Grant Management
System. Funding Coordination Section will increase their overall capacity in order to help us
meet the ambitious target set in the Secretary-General’s report of increasing the overall
portion of humanitarian appeal funding channelled through the UN country-based pooled
funds to 15 per cent. If successful, this will lead to an increase in the flow of resources to our
Programme Support Account to better support the FCS and other related activities in future
As mentioned above, additional investments will also be made in the implementation of the
WHS. PDSB will maintain a similar level of capacity to coordinate external partnerships in
advancing the Agenda for Humanity, and to deliver reports from the PACT online platform.
ISB and SCB will also invest in maintaining capacity to ensure that the PACT as a platform
functions effectively and that the Agenda for Humanity is promoted through an effective
advocacy strategy.
We will build on investments made to date in information technology. For staff, we will
continue the roll out of OCHA-Global Office (Microsoft email, document management and
collaboration services), working closely with the Secretariat to accelerate the email
component. For our humanitarian partners, we are prioritizing information services that
support the Humanitarian Programme Cycle, the Humanitarian Data Center in the
Netherlands, and the consolidation of HumanitarianResponse.info into the ReliefWeb
platform to offer a single crisis information platform for global and field colleagues..
In order to finance these investments, several areas of CPD’s work have been deprioritized.
This includes the World Humanitarian Day campaign, which we will seek to broaden the
ownership of across the UN system, and the development of a full digital strategy. In
Administration, attempts have been made to realize the benefits of Umoja by reducing several
transactional posts, particularly at the GS level and to consolidate several functions.
OCHA Geneva
In OCHA Geneva (which comprises of ESB, PSB, PRMB and the Liaison Offices) 3 staff
members holding Fixed Term, Continuing or Permanent appointments will be impacted by
the budget cuts.
The BRC agreed to prioritize OCHA’s capacity to rapidly and efficiently respond to sudden
onset disasters and emergencies, in particular ensuring support for coordination and the
humanitarian programme cycle (HPC). OCHA GVA will continue to work on developing
innovative coordination services and tools to support the implementation of the HPC, such as
the launch of the new Financial Tracking System. OCHA Geneva will also prioritize
operational field support, in particular support to surge deployments and the logistics fund for
emergency field procurement, such as Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) and armoured
In order to finance these investments in field support, the BRC agreed that OCHA Geneva
should scale back engagement in global preparedness initiatives by fifty per cent. The BRC

also agreed that OCHA Geneva will stand down the Roaming Emergency Surge Officers
(RESOs) and concentrate on OCHA’s internal surge management system.
Given OCHA’s financial context, the BRC agreed on the importance of strengthening and
focusing on fundraising for OCHA to raise additional income. The aim is to expand the
donor base and exploring other fundraising opportunities. OCHA fundraising will now be
fully mainstreamed into all partnership work with an aim of increasing donor contributions.
Coordination and Response Division (HQ)
2017 will see a total of 11 fewer positions in CRD at HQ in 2017. The strategic prioritization
of CRD’s support at headquarters will align with the reduction in capacity and support from
Regional Offices. Desk support will be consolidated to focus on the 29 countries where an
HC is deployed. This will mean limited capacity to cover those regions of concern and
interest on an ongoing basis, such as the Caucasus, Central Asia, Sahel, Southern Africa, the
Caribbean and South America. Support for the professional development of Humanitarian
Coordinators will be reduced, with the abolition of two posts dedicated to leadership
development from the Humanitarian Leadership Strengthening Unit in Geneva. Desk Officer
support for the field and at HQ will also be significantly reduced, with an 11% reduction in
staff in the geographic sections across Geneva and New York.

Stephen O’Brien
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
30 November 2016