Humanitarian Action Thematic Fund

The health and human rights needs of women and young people escalate dramatically in a crisis. Every day in humanitarian settings, more than 500 women and girls die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Gender-based violence often increases, with severe, sometimes fatal, consequences. Essential supplies, such as sanitary napkins and contraceptives, are often out of reach. In these emergencies, UNFPA is on the ground, responding to these needs.

UNFPA plays a critical role in helping responders implement the Minimum Initial Service Package, a series of life-saving actions required to respond to sexual and reproductive health needs at the onset of a crisis. UNFPA works to prevent gender-based violence in emergencies and to provide support for survivors, coordinating all humanitarian partners in these efforts. UNFPA also coordinates the distribution of reproductive health kits, saving the lives of mothers and babies, and provides dignity kits to meet basic hygiene needs. Finally, UNFPA is a major source of population data, which is used to shape overall emergency responses.

Unfortunately, the need for these services is rapidly expanding, with an increase in natural disasters – many linked to climate change – and a growing number of conflicts. In 2019, UNFPA aims to reach a record 35 million women, girls and young people in 64 countries with life-saving humanitarian aid, including over 4 million pregnant women. 

Flexible, multi-year funding

The work of providing sexual and reproductive health services, and of preventing and responding to gender-based violence, is perennially underfunded. In 2018, for example, only 48 per cent of UNFPA’s humanitarian financing objectives were covered. 

To reduce future humanitarian financing gaps, UNFPA launched the Humanitarian-Action Thematic Fund in June 2018. This new fund provides flexible and multi-year financing, enabling UNFPA to respond quickly at the beginning of a crisis, and to furnish assistance when humanitarian responses are underfunded. The fund aims to increase the total amount available to respond to emergencies and to channel that funding where it is needed the most. 

Financed by governmental and private donations, the fund pools donor contributions as a way of reducing transaction costs. Covering all aspects of UNFPA’s humanitarian response appeals, without geographical, thematic or time earmarks, the Humanitarian-Action Thematic Fund allows UNFPA to act more quickly and more efficiently, wherever disaster strikes. 

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UNFPA is uniquely positioned to provide inclusive and integrated services for sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence prevention and response, and increasingly mental health and psychosocial support.

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