Fostering NGO's and frontline responders' engagement


The 10 Grand Bargain workstreams

Greater Transparency
More support and funding tools to local and national responders
Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming
Reduce Duplication and Management costs with periodic functional reviews
Improve Joint and Impartial Needs Assessments
A Participation Revolution: include people receiving aid in making the decisions which affect their lives
Enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding
Enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding
Harmonize and simplify reporting requirements
Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors

Enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding


Aid organisations and donors commit to:

  1. Increase multi-year, collaborative and flexible planning and multi-year funding instruments and document the impacts on programme efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring that recipients apply the same funding arrangements with their implementing partners.
  2. Support in at least five countries by the end of 2017 multi-year collaborative planning and response plans through multi-year funding and monitor and evaluate the outcomes of these responses.
  3. Strengthen existing coordination efforts to share analysis of needs and risks between the humanitarian and development sectors and to better align humanitarian and development planning tools and interventions while respecting the principles of both.
  4. Jointly determine, on an annual basis, the most effective and efficient way of reporting on unearmarked and softly earmarked funding and to initiate this reporting by the end of 2017.
  5. Reduce the degree of earmarking of funds contributed by governments and regional groups who currently provide low levels of flexible finance. Aid organisations in turn commit to do the same with their funding when channelling it through partners.

Aid organisations commit to:

  1. Be transparent and regularly share information with donors outlining the criteria for how core and unearmarked funding is allocated (for example, urgent needs, emergency preparedness, forgotten contexts, improved management)
  2. Increase the visibility of unearmarked and softly earmarked funding, thereby recognising the contribution made by donors.

Donors commit to:

  1. Progressively reduce the earmarking of their humanitarian contributions. The aim is to aspire to achieve a global target of 30 per cent of humanitarian contributions that is nonearmarked or softly earmarked (see annex on earmarking definition in the Grand Bargain-A Shared Commitment to Better Serve People in Need) by 2020.

The co-conveners: Canada, Sweden, OCHA, UNICEF, ICRC, NRC
NGOs co-champion: NRC
Helpful contacts: Samar Al-Attar, ICRC & Cecilia Roselli, NRC
Official IASC page on this workstream available here

Main progress in the last 3 years

Former work stream 7 and 8 have merged in 2018 into the work stream 7+8 ‘enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding’. This was intended to consolidate efforts against the respective commitments in the two original work streams, to leverage synergies and to facilitate a more integrated approach to flexible and predictable funding. A work plan was developed by the four original co-conveners, two core commitments were identified and agreement was reached for an annual rotation of co-conveners. The merged work stream has now six co-conveners: Canada, Sweden, UN OCHA, UNICEF, ICRC, and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

According to the annual independent report (2019), substantial progress was reported by signatories in key areas under this newly merged work stream, particularly in relation to multi-year funding and planning, and there was evidence of a normative shift on both. However, progress in other areas remains uneven and activity or engagement beyond co-convening signatories was limited. Furthermore, most aid organizations stated that they had not received increased multi-year funding in 2018, and several reported a decrease in either the volume they received, or as a percentage of overall funding.

Building on the recommendations made at the Grand Bargain Annual Meeting in June 2019, the co-conveners of the Enhanced Quality Funding work stream, Canada, UNICEF, Sweden, ICRC, NRC and UN OCHA, organised a one-day workshop in September 2019. The purpose of this workshop was to agree on practical strategies and solutions in order to accelerate progress against the Grand Bargain multi-year and flexible funding commitments. The outcome document can be seen here.

The updated Priority Action Plan shows all the objectives and priority actions that will be taken by the co-conveners. To implement the priority actions, NRC is leading the initiative to identify and compile best practices on quality funding from donors, aid agencies and partners. The picnic basket on quality funding will be finalised and shared with the Signatories by June 2020.

Why should you engage?

Looking ahead, particular efforts are required to ensure appropriate coordination of multi-year funding with multi-year plans at country level. With regard to the commitment to jointly determine the most effective and efficient way of reporting on unearmarked and softly earmarked funding, it will be important to develop a collective agreement on this in a way that increases confidence among donor governments that they can reduce earmarking. Moreover, more collective clarity should arise by defining ‘multi-year’, and how donors are allocating multi-year funding (e.g. to the UN, CERF, NGOs,.). A strategic dialogue is also urgently required between donors and aid organisations to understand the disconnect between donor reporting on multi-year and flexible funds which is increasing and aid organisations’ experience who do not receive increased multi-year funding, including how this relates to passing funds down the chain.

How can you engage?

  • Take part in workshops and studies to advocate, based on field evidence, for the multi-year planning and funding impact on programme and partners’ efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Share lessons and recommendations identified to address some key emerging gaps and challenges humanitarian actors are facing when allocating and receiving multi-year funding.


[1] The Grand Bargain Annual Report 2019, ODI June 2019



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