Source description last updated: 17 September 2021

In brief: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is responsible for mobilizing and coordinating humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies, advocating the rights of people in need, promoting preparedness and prevention as well as facilitating sustainable solutions.

Coverage on
Humanitarian Bulletins, Humanitarian Profiles, Humanitarian Overviews, Humanitarian Updates, Joint Humanitarian Updates, Situation Reports, Crisis Situation Reports, Protection of Civilian Reports and other relevant reports for countries of priorities A-C.
Covered weekly on
ReliefWeb, OCHA’s database for humanitarian information is covered as a separate source on


OCHA is “responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort. [...] in fulfilling its coordination mandate, OCHA is guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. [...]

OCHA’s mandate stems from General Assembly (GA) resolution 46/182 of December 1991, which states: ‘The leadership role of the Secretary-General is critical and must be strengthened to ensure better preparation for, as well as rapid and coherent response to, natural disasters and other emergencies.’ To this end, it also establishes the role of the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), who works with the Secretary-General and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) in leading, coordinating and facilitating humanitarian assistance. OCHA is the office that provides support to the ERC and the Secretary-General to meet the leadership and coordination responsibilities charted in GA resolution 46/182.” (OCHA Website, Who We Are, undated)


“To finance OCHA’s activities, only 5 per cent of the Office’s annual budget is funded from the United Nations Regular Budget. Therefore, OCHA remains reliant on voluntary contributions primarily from Member States and the European Commission. [...]

The ODSG [OCHA Donor Support Group] is a group of donors who acts as a ‘sounding board’ and a source of advice on policy, management, budgetary and financial questions. [...] ODSG members commit to provide political, financial and technical support towards fulfilling OCHA’s mandated coordination activities. [...] The ODSG currently consists of 30 members [...]

Donors can choose to fund humanitarian projects that are implemented by third parties (UN partners and NGOs). These are the so-called SDCs [Specially Designated Contributions], but they are not included in the annual budget plan, as they do not have a direct link to OCHA’s activities. [...]

To enable the allocation of funds where and when they are needed, contributions need to be flexible. Therefore, an important part of OCHA’s resource mobilization strategy is to secure a healthy balance between earmarked and unearmarked funding from donors and, where possible, to secure those commitments on a multi-year basis, for greater predictability. OCHA also works with its partners to sustainably and meaningfully diversify its donor base.” (OCHA Website, Funding, undated)

Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Worldwide.
Thematic focus: Displacement, emergencies, environmental emergencies, humanitarian response, explosive weapons in populated areas, food security, humanitarian access, humanitarian civil-military coordination, humanitarian development, logistics, OCHA’s work with governments, protection, transition from relief to development.

OCHA coordinates humanitarian action to ensure crisis-affected people receive the assistance and protection they need. It works to overcome obstacles that impede humanitarian assistance from reaching people affected by crises, and it provides leadership in mobilizing assistance and resources on behalf of the humanitarian system. [...]
Through the ERC, OCHA amplifies the voices of affected people, champions humanitarian principles and action, and promotes solutions to reduce humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability. At the global, regional and country levels, OCHA convenes humanitarian partners for the coordinated, strategic and accountable delivery of humanitarian action. At the country level, the ERC maintains close contact with and provides leadership to United Nations Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs) on matters related to humanitarian assistance.” (OCHA Website, Who We Are, undated)
“Through the Annual Report and the Plan and Budget, OCHA informs readers about how we use financial resources to serve those most in need around the world. Our thematic publications provide information on important humanitarian issues, like protection of civilians and humanitarian access. We also publish in-depth analytical policy papers on humanitarian data and trends.” (OCHA Website, Publications and Information Products, undated)
In 1996 OCHA launched the humanitarian information portal ReliefWeb, which aims to provide reliable and timely information on global crises and disasters. On, ReliefWeb is a source covered separately from OCHA, with its own source description.

Languages of publications:
English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian

Further reading / links:
United Nations: Deliver Humanitarian Aid

PreventionWeb: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Headquarters (OCHA)

Humanitarian Response source description for ReliefWeb:

All links accessed 17 September 2021.

Methodological note:'s source descriptions contain background information on an organisation’s mission & objective, funding and reporting methodology, as well as on how we cover the source. The descriptions were prepared after researching publicly accessible information within time constraints. Most information contained in a source description was taken from the source itself. The aim is to provide a brief introduction to the sources covered regularly, offering information on relevant aspects in one place in a systematic manner.