The Complex Crises Fund: Rapid Response Funding to Prevent Violent Conflict
The Complex Crises Fund (CCF) is a mechanism appropriated by Congress that provides much-needed flexible money to USAID “to prevent and respond to emerging or unforeseen crises,” filling a critical gap when stove-piped assistance funds cannot be reprogrammed.
This funding mechanism has quickly become one of the most highly demanded tools in the U.S. foreign policy toolkit, and has been used to help mitigate violence in 19 countries, including Tunisia, Kenya, Mali and Sri Lanka. In Central African Republic, for example, CCF funding has been used to help improve access to timely and accurate information, and lay the framework for a peaceful political transition by working to prevent further atrocities and rebuilding social cohesion through community peacebuilding.
The Complex Crises Fund is unique and essential
CCF is the only mechanism of its kind, and provides global, flexible funding that enables USAID to respond outside of planned development programming. If a crisis breaks out, civilian agencies have few resources available to launch crisis mitigation programs in response. Without funds available to quickly engage, the U.S. government’s ability to effectively prevent and mitigate crises is severely hampered.
Specifically, CCF focuses on countries or regions that demonstrate a high or escalating risk of conflict, instability, or an unanticipated opportunity for progress in a newly-emerging or fragile democracy. Projects aspire to address and prevent root causes of conflict and instability through a whole-of-government approach. When civilian agencies utilize CCF funding to address crises in the early stages, costly militarized responses are minimized.
The Complex Crises Fund helps rebalance the U.S. foreign policy toolbox
CCF replaced the temporary “1207 transfer authority” given to the Defense Department. Under 1207, the Pentagon exercised influence and veto power over the civilian-led programs it transferred funding into, hampering the unique expertise of these agencies. CCF’s appropriation in 2010 allowed civilian actors – trained to undertake prevention, reconstruction, and crisis response activities where the military lacks expertise and mission focus – to lead.
Congress should prioritize crisis prevention and mitigation by fully funding CCF
Advocates struggle each year to secure adequate funding for the relatively new account, even though the amount requested is a small portion of the budget. 2010 marked the first time Congress appropriated money: $50 million, only half the original request. Since then, the House of Representatives has voted to eliminate the fund for four consecutive years. Congress should reverse this trend by providing the full requested amount.