Flexible funding: Southern Africa region in 2022

15 June 2023

Flexible funding contributed more than $4 out of every $10 that UNHCR spent in the Southern Africa region in 2022. The generosity of flexible donors, who provided $49.8 million of unearmarked funding and $37.5 million of softly earmarked funding, made a huge contribution towards total expenditure of $213.9 million.

The importance of flexible funding is even starker if the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), by far the region’s biggest source of forced displacement, is discounted. It attracted the bulk of earmarked funding in the region, and 75% of UNHCR’s expenditure in the country was funded from earmarked or tightly earmarked contributions.

However, for other countries in southern Africa, the needs of forcibly displaced people were largely unmet by earmarked funding, leaving a huge deficit for flexible funding to fill. Donors enabled UNHCR to cover a large portion of the gap. 

Southern Africa flexible funding in 2022
Southern Africa funding in 2022

For example, in Zimbabwe, many areas of UNHCR’s vital work, such as meeting basic needs and supporting sustainable housing and livelihoods, were funded entirely out of flexible contributions, and mainly from unearmarked funding. In Mozambique, where more than 1 million people were internally displaced, unearmarked funding financed the bulk of UNHCR’s work on safety and access to justice and on child protection, while 44% of expenditure on well-being and basic needs came from softly earmarked funds.

In UNHCR’s South Africa multi-country operation, 73% of all expenditure was made possible by donors of unearmarked funds. These donors made it possible to provide cash assistance to survivors of gender-based violence, children at risk and persons with disabilities, to improve sanitation and maintain water quality in refugee reception centres, and to provide seed capital, training and advice to refugees who are trying to create a livelihood. Other major beneficiaries of unearmarked funding in the region were people supported by UNHCR’s operations in Angola, the Republic of the Congo, Malawi and Zambia. All were critically underfunded but avoided a catastrophic funding gap thanks to the generosity of the most flexible donors.