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5. The Immediate Response Facility (IRF)

The IRF is the project-based financing mechanism of the PBF that is typically used in situations where swift action is required for immediate peacebuilding and recovery needs.

Requests of up to $3 million for the IRF portfolio of projects can be approved by the ASG for Peacebuilding without the need to declare the country formally eligible by the UN Secretary-General (see Section 4 on Eligibility). If a country is declared formally eligible for PBF funding by the UN Secretary General, it can receive up to $15 million for the IRF project portfolio (counting active project portfolio in the given country, not including those projects which had operationally closed). Funding above the $15 million ceiling can only be provided through the PRF track or if a special exemption is granted. There is no limit to the number of IRF projects that a country may apply for.

Maximum duration of IRF funded projects is 18 months, although extensions may be considered in certain cases (see below).


5.1 IRF Project Proposal Preparation and Submission

Informal discussions may be initiated between UNCTs and PBSO to gauge the possible level of support for any new proposals. The aim of these discussions is to ensure that efforts in the field are not wasted on proposals that have little chance of being approved, and also to ensure that submitted proposals are in the best possible shape prior to being reviewed by the PBSO Proposal Appraisal Committee.

The application process is formally activated when a senior UN representative/official submits an IRF project proposal Template 2.1 and 2.2, to the ASG for Peacebuilding. These templates provide the context for the request (including justification for provisional country eligibility in cases when a country has not already been declared eligible), as well as details of the project. Project documents are prepared by Recipient UN Organizations in collaboration with implementing partners, government and non-government (see Guidance Note 5.5.1: How to establish and to report on IRF projects?). Every project proposal needs to be formally endorsed by the Government.

Proposals for funding under the IRF may take the form of a stand-alone project or a portfolio of projects that may be submitted either simultaneously or one after another. Where more than one IRF project proposal is submitted, UNCT should ensure that there is coherence and cohesion between the various proposals and a focus on programmatic results. In outlining the proposed outcome of the individual project, the proposing agency must link it to one of the 12 PBF Focus Areas of support (see Section 3.3). Each project should be assigned to one PBF Focus Area only. If a proposing agency has questions or difficulty in assigning their planned work to a given outcome, PBSO recommends contacting the appropriate PBF programme officer assigned to the country.

Prior to submission to PBSO, the project proposal must be discussed within the UN Country Team to ensure that all stakeholders understand the interagency nature of the Fund and the chain of accountability. Moreover, the Government needs to be consulted and endorse the project proposal through an appropriate representative.

Ideally, any project proposal should be based on an up to date conflict analysis, especially, if the intention of the UN team and the partner government is to subsequently apply for PBF eligibility. However, given the immediate and urgent nature of the IRF track, it is understood that a conflict analysis may not be as thorough or as inclusive as for the support provided under the PRF track.

5.2 IRF Approval Process

The approval process begins with the receipt of the formal proposal by the ASG for Peacebuilding. Once received, PBSO commits to render a decision within 21 days. During that 21-day span, PBSO circulates the proposal, together with its initial assessment, to the Peacebuilding Contact Group (PCG) for review and comments before submitting documentation to PBSO’s Proposal Appraisal Committee (PAC).

The PAC is responsible for reviewing both the project proposal and comments from the PCG. Based on this documentation, the PAC recommends project approval, rejection, or identifies a set of revisions that may lead to final approval by the ASG for Peacebuilding (see Section 5.4 below). Following the PAC recommendation, the ASG makes a final decision on the proposal. This decision is then communicated to the MPTF-O, the Senior Resident UN Representative in the country, and PBC Chair (where relevant).

PBSO Review Criteria

PBSO reviews project submissions against the following criteria:

  • PBF strategic positioning/ capacity: If the country has not previously been declared eligible for the PBF and has not received PBF funding, how would the addition of a new country affect PBF overall strategic positioning (country specific and globally) and the PBF’s capacity to oversee its entire portfolio? Is PBF already active in the region and are there any regional implications?
  • Partner Government commitment: Does the partner government show commitment to peacebuilding and to the proposed project?
  • UN senior leadership commitment: Does the UN senior leadership in the country show commitment to the proposed project and to using PBF’s added value towards peacebuilding support?
  • Post-crisis urgency: Has the urgency of the funding been sufficiently demonstrated?
  • Financial gaps and catalytic potential: Has the financial environment been adequately described? Are the gaps/catalytic potential outlined? Is there a critical financial gap?
  • Link to conflict analysis and peacebuilding needs: Is the justification of the proposal well argued based on a conflict analysis and on demonstrated peacebuilding needs?
  • Clarity of results: Are the expected results clear and achievable? Are the expected ‘theories of change’ fully reflected in the logic of the results framework?
  • Consultation: Has the submission (proposal) been fully debated by all relevant partners, including the UNCT?
  • RUNO and implementing partner capacity: Is the UN well placed to provide this support? Do the RUNOs and the implementing partners have a capacity to implement the projects?
  • Value for money: What steps have been, or will be taken, to ensure that the UN obtains ‘value for money’ through the project?
  • M&E: Does the project have a sound M&E system, including a Results Framework with measurable and peace relevant outcomes, indicators and targets, and an M&E Plan, if required?
  • Risk: Does the project have a sound risk matrix, inclusive of conflict sensitivity and incorporating the Do No Harm principle?
  • Environmental sustainability: Where natural resources are a particular focus of programming, does the project take into account how environmental sustainability and social dynamics around the natural resource may influence conflict factors?
  • Gender responsiveness: Is the project based on gender analysis and does it mainstream gender through its outcomes, outputs, indicators and budget? Note that every proposal should be scored by the submitting agency, using the gender marker, and must outline how to monitor and report on gender specific results, including through the collection of sex and age disaggregated data.
  • Conflict sensitivity:is the project written in a conflict sensitive manner, taking into account the context and the way the project may affect it and ensure that Do No Harm principles are respected? Also, does the project take into account the Human Rights Diligence Policy considerations, especially for projects dealing with SSR 1
  • Value for money: Does the project demonstrate that it will be using resources efficiently and ensuring value for money. Please refer to the Value for Money checklist.

Following the decision by the ASG for Peacebuilding Support, this is communicated to the UN senior country representative. If the proposal receives a conditional approval from the ASG for Peacebuilding, PBSO expects to receive the revised project document within 4 weeks of the response. MPTF disburses funds to the RUNO within 5 days following the receipt of the approval documentation.

5.3 IRF Project Implementation, Amendment and Closure

Once approved and signed by PBSO, project documents are submitted by PBSO to the MPTF Office (the Administrative Agent for the Fund) which ensures compliance with the MoU between MPTF-O and the Recipient UN Organization (RUNO). Once confirmed, MPTF-O transfers the total IRF grant to the RUNO. The RUNO is expected to proceed immediately with the implementation of the proposal. The date of funding disbursal from MPTF-O is the official start date of the project and the end date will be moved accordingly, taking into account eh number of months for which the project was approved. The maximum duration of an IRF project is 18 months.

The RUNO can either implement the project directly or work with a locally-based partner, government or non-government, to implement approved projects 2. Project implementation is guided by the rules, regulations and policies of each RUNO. Each project will have its own factsheet page on the MPTF Office GATEWAY where the project document, progress reports and financial data will be reflected. It is recommended that RUNOs prepare an annual workplan to assist with effective and efficient project management.

The RUNO must provide two project reports per year detailing the implementation of the project using PBF templates: the six monthly report, which is due on 15 July of every year for which the project is operationally open, and the annual report, which is due on 31 March, for the previous calendar year. For more detail on project monitoring, reporting and evaluation requirements related to project implementation, please refer to Chapter 7.

For any changes to the approved project, the RUNO must proceed as indicated below.

Proposed project changes (scope or budget)

Any proposed change to the scope or length of a project, or to its overall budget, must be submitted to PBSO for approval (Templates 2.3). If a change is proposed within the approved budget, which has no effect on the scope of the project or its objectives or on the total budget, but only re-allocates between budget categories, PBSO needs to approve the change only if it affects more than 15% of any of the budget categories (Template 2.4). All requests for revision should contain reasons for the change and what they mean for the project. PBSO will consider the request and respond within two weeks with a decision. If the change affects less than 15% of any budget category and the change has no effect on the scope of the project or its objectives or on the total budget, there is no need to seek PBSO approval. In this case the template 2.4 should be completed for information only.

Project extensions

If it is anticipated that the project cannot be operationally completed within its allotted time span (18 months), a request for an extension should be submitted  to PBSO at least three months prior to the expected closure date. This request should include details of why the project is running behind schedule and propose a new date for project completion. The request should also clarify if the extension will have any budget implications. PBSO will consider the request and respond with a decision on the request for extension within three weeks (Guidance Note 5.6.1 How to make a cost/ non-cost extension request for IRF projects). If there are no cost/scope implications, Template 2.4 should be used. If there are scope or budget implications, Template 2.3 should be used. The duration of any extension will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the context and the justification for the extension.

Project final closure

Projects should be fully implemented and operationally closed within 18 months of the initial receipt of funds. Projects then move into a period of financial closure and any unspent balances are to be returned to the MPTF Office when financial closure is complete. This process should take no longer than six months from operational closure. Once a project is financially closed, no further transactions can take place (see project closure guidelines on the MPTF Office website).

According to the MoU, RUNOs must inform the MPTF Office once a project has completed its operational activities (See Guidance Note 5.7 How to close PFB projects). RUNOs must also submit an end of project report within three months of the project’s operational closure. For financial closure, certified final financial statements must be submitted to the MPTF Office. Unspent balances return to PBSO budget account and will not remain available to the country for other projects.

Diagram 2 – IRF Approval

IRF Approval

Approval flowchart


Related Templates

–  IRF Project Document (Template 2.1)doc Download IRF Project Document- Template 2.1

–  IRF Revised Project Document (Template 2.2) doc Download IRF Revised Project document- Template 2.2

–  IRF No-Cost Revision (Template 2.3)  doc Download IRF No-Cost Revision (Template 2.3)



  1. 1. In July 2011, the United Nations adopted the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. The HRDDP sets out principles and measures to mainstream human rights with support provided by United Nations entities to non-UN security forces. The HRDDP is a global policy to ensure that such support is consistent with UN principles as outlined in the Charter and in international law with regards to promoting respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee laws. The HRDDP is a tool that encourages UN entities providing support to national or regional security forces to influence the behaviour of these beneficiaries by engaging them further on human rights issues and in the context of their support. It also is expected; however, that the HRDDP will further enhance non-UN entity compliance with international humanitarian, human rights or refugee law, with the aim of compliance becoming the norm.
  2. 2.The Senior UN Representative and RUNOs are encouraged to partner with national and international NGOs/CSOs with demonstrated field presence and technical capacities to implement projects or project components, particularly for those activities where the UN does not have the necessary field presence or technical capacity.