In 2014 the Advisory Board asked the humanitarian coordinator (HC) and OCHA to promote increased alignment of the oPt ERF to the Strategic Response Plan (SRP), thereby complementing the emergency response mandate of the Fund with a more strategic approach to supporting humanitarian response in the country. Although clusters substantively improved prioritization for ERF allocations in 2014, donor funding did not reflect a collective consideration of these priorities, resulting in serious gaps in funding and in ability to respond. Nonetheless, the ERF alignment with the SRP, first tried in 2014, proved to be a critical contribution towards a more efficient use of humanitarian funds in the oPt.
The context of the oPt is a protracted protection crisis with humanitarian consequences, driven by insufficient respect for international law by all sides. Palestinians in the oPt face a range of serious security issues related to these factors, including threats to life, liberty and security, destruction or damage to homes and other property, forced displacement, restrictions on freedom of movement and on access to livelihoods, and lack of accountability and effective remedies. The inability of the sides to reach a political agreement that could end the longstanding occupation and conflict compounds the difficulties.
The winter storm of December 2013 and the summer 2014 escalation in hostilities increased the demand for humanitarian intervention and most ERF projects approved in 2014 addressed the impact of these two major events. For the first time, the ERF launched a new modality to filling gaps identified in the SRP through a "call for proposals" that invites clusters to present the most critically underfunded projects in response to key priorities defined by predetermined criteria i.
The ERF response to the effects of the winter storm built upon the lessons learned from the previous winter storm of January 2013. In coordination with key stakeholders, OCHA worked to reduce the scope of unmet needs and duplications. Following a vetting process, the ERF funded 24 proposals worth $5.35 million in WASH, health, food security (FSS), education, emergency shelter and NFI.
The call for proposals initiated support for ten SRP underfunded projects in education, FSS, health, protection and WASH for a sum of $2.15 million. During the Gaza hostilities in the summer of 2014, the ERF started the processing of project applications from the first week of the emergency. 14 projects worth $3.8 million were approved to address priority needs. Later in the emergency, the HC requested that the ERF respond to priority needs as opposed to a "first come, first served" system. A new call of proposals was launched forthe Gaza emergency, which resulted in the funding of an additional 12 projects worth $ 2.51 million.
Overall during 2014, a total of 120 project proposals were submitted to the ERF, of which 64 worth $14 million were approved, marking the highest funding by ERF in a single year since its inception.
Of the 64 projects approved in 2014, 41 were implemented in the Gaza Strip and 23 in the West Bank. All the projects approved in the West Bank were implemented either in Area C or in East Jerusalem.
All projects submitted to the ERF underwent a preliminary technical review by the relevant cluster/sector coordinators and OCHA. The two calls for proposals provided the opportunity to strengthen the role of cluster coordinators by facilitating a coordinated approach to need assessments, cluster and inter-cluster priority setting, and the identification of complementary interventions and partners. Proposals that passed this stage were reviewed by the ERF Review Board (composed of representatives of UN agencies and NGOs) and submitted to the HC for endorsement. Since the ERF is strongly rooted in the humanitarian coordination systems, it demonstrated once again its reliability in risk management, project selection, assessment of comparative advantages and technical expertise, minimizing costs and fostering partnerships.
In 2014, national NGOs continued to play a key role; implementing 61 per cent of all ERF projects either exclusively or in partnership with international NGOs. A further 28 per cent of projects were implemented directly by INGOs, and 11 per cent by UN agencies.
Donor support to the ERF in 2014 was particularly resolute and totalled $ 8.1million, the highest sum in a single year, donated by Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Since 2007, the ERF has received more than $40 million in total contributions from eleven donor countries.