The Grand Bargain and COVID-19: Effective and efficient humanitarian response needed more than ever

Published Date

covid19 and gb(Updated on 23 November 2020)

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, the humanitarian community has been responding to the rapidly evolving needs. As a result, donors, UN agencies, Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and NGOs have been adapting their response to make it more effective and efficient. We can only address crises such as COVID-19 by accelerating the Grand Bargain commitments in the spirit of quid pro quo.

Please see here a 1-pager providing an overview of adaptations of the humanitarian response, and further steps needed to enable a more efficient and effective response to COVID-19 and existing humanitarian crises.


These are individual examples of donors, UN agencies, Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and NGOs adapting their response to make it more effective and efficient in the spirit of quid pro quo. We add the examples as we receive them, so please do come back for updates. 

  • (Added on 14 April 2020): The Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 highlighted several links to the Grand Bargain commitments, demonstrating the need for humanitarian donors, UN agencies, Red Cross movement and NGOs to continue and step up their efforts to make humanitarian aid more effective and efficient, in order to to get more means into the hands of people in need.


  • (Added on 14 April 2020): Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) have provided a combined US$88.1 million to COVID-19 pandemic responses. So far programmes in 26 countries have been supported through these funds and additional countries are being identified under the Global COVID-19 HRP.
  • (Added on 14 April 2020): Flexibility measures have been introduced in the Country Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • NEW (Added on 23 November 2020): Due to the exceptional circumstances brought by COVID-19, Belgium increased further its flexibility and decided to foster more coordination and collaboration between the Belgian NGOs in the framework of the COVID-19 response. It has therefore decided to fund the initiative BAHIA as a pilot project. BAHIA stands for “Belgian Alliance for Humanitarian International Action” and refers to the partnership between 7 Belgian NGOs registered to access Belgian funds for humanitarian aid. In 2020-2021, under a funding from the Belgian cooperation (DGD) to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 on preexisting humanitarian crisis, 7 Belgian humanitarian NGOs will set-up a coordinated response under a joint intervention logic. This project equally serves as a pilot to discover new ways of working, especially concerning the flexibility of funding for humanitarian NGOs and the coordination amongst them, both in Belgium as in the field. BAHIA is committed to the four humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence and will ensure a safe programming approach.


  • (Added on 14 April 2020): In a letter to their partners, the High Commissioner for Refugees Mr Filippo Gandi informed them that UNHCR is "working swiftly on easing some of the hurdles resulting from contractual obligations which can prevent flexible responses." According to Mr Grandi, this initiative started before the COVID-19 crisis, and UNHCR is now advancing this process. To accelerate response to the COVID-19 crisis, UNHCR will simplify certain administrative, procurement and other processes, including the ability to quickly engage new partners. Click here to read the full letter. 
  • (Added on 15 April 2020): As highlighted in a letter to their partners, WFP asked their Country Offices to above all use flexibility and simplification to ensure business continuity. "This includes increased flexibility in existing agreements to reprogramme and shift resources into the most affected locations and most urgent activities, and fast-tracked procedures for negotiating and revising agreements. We are also encouraging simplified oversight and monitoring procedures such as desk reviews, remote monitoring and electronic document exchanges instead of onsite spot checking, for instance, to avoid the risk of transmission." Click here to read the full letter.
  • (Added on 1 May 2020)UNICEF is committed to the principles of budget flexibility, adaptive programming, meaningful partner interaction, and harmonised UN due diligence. UNICEF also recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates further flexibility. To this end, and in addition to the standard simplifications, UNICEF has adopted measures such as recognition of eligible costs, postponement of non-critical assurance requirements and allowance of remote modalities, and submission of Programme Documents and FACE forms with a digital and e-mail signature. Read the full document here.


  • (Added on 22 April 2020): Women’s civil-society organisations around the world are playing key roles in efforts to respond to and stem the spread of COVID-19. Their work is particularly critical in contexts of conflict and humanitarian crises. The Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) has opened a new window of funding for local women’s organisations responding to COVID-19 in their communities. The WPHF COVID-19 emergency response window is linked to promoting a gender transformative localisation agenda. The focus is on funding and institutional strengthening of local women’s organisations to scale up their advocacy, service delivery and social mobilisation at community level in relation to COVID-19 responses in humanitarian and protracted crisis settings.