What are humanitarian response plans, regional response plans and flash appeals?

Humanitarian response plans (HRPs) and flash appeals articulate a shared vision of how to respond to the affected population's assessed and expressed needs in a humanitarian emergency. They are also a management tool for response and support decision-making by humanitarian country teams (HCTs). HCTs comprise UN agencies, NGOs and other actors. The plans include: a country or context strategy, with strategic objectives and indicators; and cluster plans, with objectives, activities and accompanying projects. Together they detail how the strategy will be implemented and how much funding is required.

The main planning process for HRPs takes place between September and December but plans can actually be issued at any point in the year. They usually have at least a one-year planning horizon. Plans are consolidated and presented in the Global Humanitarian Overview in November/December each year.

Flash appeals (emergency plans) are the response strategy to sudden onset emergencies and normally address acute needs in a three- to six-month timeframe. They outline roles and responsibilities, sectoral response plans, activities and their respective funding requirements. The decision to develop a flash appeal is based on a rapid appraisal of a disaster’s scale and severity, compared to available government capacity. The Resident and/or Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) triggers the process in consultation with the HCT and the affected government.

Regional response plans (RRPs) are regional refugee response plans coordinated by UNHCR and its partners.

How are funding requirements generated?

The process of working out funding requirements for HRPs and flash appeals is part of the appeal planning process undertaken at field level with support from HQs. The information system that supports this process for HRPs and flash appeals is the On-line Planning/Projects System (OPS). OPS allows participating agencies to upload their projects and funding requests and to update them during the course of the plan/appeal. (There is a process for use of this tool and an authorization and revision process – see guidelines available at the above link.)

The Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO), published towards the end of each calendar year, summarizes known and anticipated requirements for the following year. These are based on estimates for those countries that have not finalized their planning processes. FTS, however, can only track finalized funding requirements.

FTS releases its database-driven pages on overall finalized requirements for the year in late January. Between the GHO launch in December each year and late January, it maintains a static page of GHO requirements and estimates with links through to individual response plan/appeal pages when their finalized requirements become available. Humanitarian plans and strategies are published on humanitarianresponseinfo.org.

When a country has both an HRP and/or an RRP, how are their financial requirements accounted for in the annual global total?

On this Beta site you can see the list of the FTS-tracked response plans in the summary table for any given year. (The default is the current year. There is a button at the top of the page that allows you to switch years.) These are the ones that count towards the total response plan/appeal funding requirements in any given year.

In 2015:

  • the Syria HRP and RRP have distinct requirements that do not overlap in any way – therefore the financial requirements of both plans contribute to the global annual requirement
  • the South Sudan RRP also includes requirements for Sudan, which has its own HRP – the overlap has been reconciled and therefore there is no double counting in the total annual requirement
  • some countries (Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Niger, and Somalia) have an HRP and requirements within an RRP that have not been reconciled – in these cases, it is the HRP requirement that counts towards the global total
  • some countries do not have an HRP (Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) but have funding requirements within an RRP – these do not count towards the global funding requirements.

[Note at 7 December: FTS is awaiting full, finalized details for 2016.]

How do you track funding?

The FTS team reviews incoming funding information from donors, agencies and others in order to match it to project, activity or cluster requirements listed in HRPs and flash appeals. It cross-checks the information before publishing it on the FTS website. The same applies to RRPs in close cooperation with UNHCR HQ in Geneva. The information is then continuously reviewed – and complemented as necessary – with the participation of donors, agencies and OCHA country offices. 

As the funding information is matched to projects and activities inside the appeal, so the unfunded portion of the financial requirement shown on the FTS website reduces. The percentage of response plan/appeal coverage increases.

This process of matching incoming information against response plans and appeals is ongoing – daily and throughout the year. The FTS website is usually updated at 02h00 Central European Time (CET) each day. However, sometimes manual updates need to be triggered during the day in order to reflect urgent changes.

The processes, information systems, tools and services that support the planning, monitoring, evaluation and financial tracking of response plans and appeals are currently being upgraded as part of the HPC information services project. (See Learn more for further details.)

What about funding for activities and agencies that are not in the response plan/appeal?

Not all agencies and organizations carrying out humanitarian activities participate in the HRP, flash or RRP process. Such organizations include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), both of which are independent. Their financial requirements are not included within the financial requirements of HRPs, flash appeals or RRPs. Where funding to these organizations is reported to FTS, the information is counted as a contribution towards the emergency – but is 'outside the appeal'.

In-kind contributions do not count against a plan's requirements – though, again, they still contribute to the overall response effort. Such contributions are referred to as 'outside the appeal' or, in these beta pages, as 'other funding'.

On this Beta site, the total funding picture is presented in the 'Total reported funding' section.

Can I re-use the data, graphs, tables and charts?

Yes! FTS encourages fair use of its data, graphs and reports. Images can be downloaded as .png (image) files and the data behind them can be downloaded in .xls or .csv format. In addiition, appeal and affected country pages include Data tabs where you can filter data and download the results. This feature will soon be extended to donor country pages. 

We are working behind the scenes to redesign the existing FTS website's custom search interface. We know this area of the site is crucial for analysts and those wishing to carry out their own research, build their own searches, tables and graphs, and those seeking to unlock the true potential of the data. We hope to roll this functionality out in beta during the first half of 2016, once our work to rebuild the underlying database and information systems has also been completed. (See Learn more for details of our ongoing work to develop our online service.)

Note: The full FTS data sets are available via the API or the custom search (main FTS site). From the custom search, you can download data by year or other chosen criteria. For example: 20152014, 2013 ...