What You Need to Know: Engaging in Country Allocations for the First Response Window

In April 2017, Education Cannot Wait announced US$20 million investment for seven crises through the First Response Window. This unique mechanism provides early funding support at the onset or escalation of a crisis, in order to reduce the impact of the crisis on education.

The First Response Window has 4 funding modalities:

1. Rapidly injecting funds at the onset of a crisis to meet immediate education needs

2. Matching funds for crises with a coordinated Humanitarian Response or Refugee Plans

3. Funding project proposals that support crises without a coordinated Humanitarian Response Plan

4. Needs assessments to support individual countries

Wherever possible, ECW aims to support catalytic investments and engagement. For example, strengthening advocacy to draw attention to lack of or under-funded education plans, particularly in forgotten crises; bringing a broader range of partners and plans together, and catalyzing longer-term collaboration; and leveraging non-traditional financing.


  • Only organizations pre-accredited by ECW can receive funding through the First Response Window. While ECW develops its pre-accreditation process, partners in the meantime must be UNICEF HACT approved as an interim financial risk management approach.
  • All First Response funds should be spent within one year of crisis onset or escalation (this does not imply all activities need to be completed by then).
  • For each crisis, the Secretariat determines which of 4 modalities will be most appropriate to address the need.

For more information about the First Response Window, please refer to the Education Cannot Wait: Grantee Operating Manual. You can also view the webinar recording, “What is the First Response Window?”

US$20m Allocation & Country Consultations

Funds are being allocated to support educational opportunities for children and youth in seven crisis-affected countries: Peru, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Somalia, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Uganda*

*Countries were selected based on a methodology that assessed recent onset or escalation of crisis, severity of crisis, long-term education needs, levels of funding, and the potential for ECW engagement across the four modalities of the First Response window. The ECW Executive Committee approved the overall methodology and number of countries on 5 April; the seven crises were announced on 21 April, and the ECW Secretariat is now coordinating delivery.

ECW is identifying partners for each crisis, at country level, who are coordinators of emergency education response, to facilitate the process for project selection and funding (which will be different for each modality). ECW is committed to strengthening cooperation between humanitarian and development partners, as well as improving transparency and inclusivity. ECW is therefore keen for a wide, consultative process to determine use of First Response funding for each crisis. Coordinating partners will therefore launch open dialogues amongst all relevant partners in the field to recommend a set of projects to meet the funding envelope. These dialogues will be happening within a short time frame so that urgently needed funds can be distributed as quickly as possible to support the education needs of crisis affected children and youth.

Below are the dialogues that are being organized for each country, along with the contact details of the country focal points, where these have been confirmed. All organisations in the field are invited to participate. This will continue to be updated as more dialogues are planned. Partners are encouraged to share this information widely.

Please note that the first consultation meetings for Ukraine and Somalia will take place Friday, 16 June.

PERU (Modality 1)

An envelope of $250,000 USD has been allocated to Peru through a modality that will provide a quick injection of funds into the flood response in the north, with the objective of strengthening the overall education response.


An envelope of $6,000,000 USD has been allocated to CAR through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current CAR Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

Education Cluster Meeting, 21 July 2017:

  • Date & Time: Friday, 21 July, 9:00
  • Location:   Ministry of Education -“STP Salle de Conference”, Bangui.
  • For further information, please contact: Iker De Urrutia, Education Cluster Coordinator, CAR. Email:  ideurrutia@outlook.com  or phone +236 70009675

MADAGASCAR (Modality 2)

An envelope of $475,000 USD has been allocated to Madagascar through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current Madagascar Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

  • For more information, contactTracy Sprott, Education Custer Focal Point, Madagascar. Email: tsprott@unicef.org or phone: + 261 32 23 426 20

SOMALIA (Modality 2 & 4)

 An envelope of $5,000,000 USD has been allocated to Somalia through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

Extraordinary Education Cluster Meeting:

  • Date & Time: Friday, 16 June, 9:00-11:00
  • Location: Save the Children Somalia Office, Chalbi Drive, off Isaac Gathanju Road, Lavington, Nairobi.
  • This meeting is open to everyone. An invitation has been sent out through the cluster email list.
  • For more information, contact: Sara Skovgaard, Education Cluster Coordinator, Somalia. Email: sskovgaard@unicef.org or phone:+ 254 (0) 792 745 812 + 252 (0) 612 487 651

UKRAINE (Modality 2)

An envelope of $1,350,000 USD has been allocated to Ukraine through a modality that will match funds against the education component of the current Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

Education Cluster Meetings, June 2017;

Following consultations in Kyiv, Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast, the Education Cluster has submitted its Recommendation Report to the ECW Secretariat. The report outlines the current humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and details how existing HRP projects will meet the current needs and fulfill ECW criteria. The report is available here.

Once the Recommendation Report has been reviewed, the ECW Secretariat will begin negotiating project agreements with eligible partners.

Website: https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/ukraine/education

AFGHANISTAN (Modality 3)

An envelope of $3,350,000 USD has been allocated to Afghanistan through a modality that will fund project proposals that support the education response for returnees, IDPs and affected host communities. Projects should align with the 4 strategic priorities of the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan, particularly mitigating acute vulnerability in the medium term; supporting households to cope with prolonged humanitarian needs to prevent a further deterioration in their situation and improving humanitarian conditions in hard-to-access areas.  Projects should equally advance the Afghanistan Education in Emergencies Working Group priorities for crisis-affected children and youth.

UGANDA (Modality 3)

An envelope of $3,350,000 USD has been allocated to Uganda through a modality that will full project proposals that support the education response for refugees, especially South Sudanese refugees and affected host communities. Projects should advance the priorities of the education section of the South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan and align with the Government of Uganda’s Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHoPE) strategy.

Education Stakeholder Meeting, 18 July 2017: A delegation from Education Cannot Wait is travelling to Kampala to meet with education stakeholders and the working group for the First Response Window. Members of the ExComm, staff from the ECW Secretariat and the fund’s Director Ms. Yasmine Sherif will be in attendance. All partners are welcome to join the meeting but please RSVP in advance to hanlon@unhcr.org.

  • Date & Time: Friday, 18 July, 9:30-11:00
  • Location: UNHCR Office, Plot 11/13, Mackenzie Close, Off Mackenzie Vale, Kololo, Kampala
  • To RSVP or for further information, please contact: Mary Hanlon, Associate Education Advisor, UNHCR Representation in Uganda. Email: hanlon@unhcr.org or phone:+ +256-312-231200 | +256-772-701003

For additional questions, please email info@educationcannotwait.org.

Progress on the Independent Hosting Review of Education Cannot Wait

Work to consider Education Cannot Wait’s long term host will begin in June 2017. The work will last up to 10 weeks and is being funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Education Cannot Wait’s current and short-term host is UNICEF, who initially offered to host the fund for a period of 12-18 months.

The overall purpose and scope of the work will be: 

a) Review and assess the current landscape for potential permanent hosting agencies for ECW

b) Assess potential hosts against assessment criteria and identify relative trade-offs

c) Make final recommendations for the permanent host for ECW, which will go to the High-Level Steering Group

Those interested in the progress of this work (including those interested in potential long-term hosting of ECW) should get in touch with the ECW Secretariat: info@educationcannotwait.org.

The Right to Education Does Not Cease in a Crisis

Education is a must have, not a nice to have. But globally, 75 million school-age children affected by emergencies and protracted crises are in desperate need of educational support. The situation for refugee children, who are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, is most severe. In fact, only 50 percent of refugee children have access to primary school, only 22 percent have access to secondary school, and just one percent of refugees attend university. As Education Cannot Wait celebrates its one-year anniversary, the need for education remains great.

Since our founding 37 years ago, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has worked to tackle these challenges. Now operating in more than 45 countries globally, we are rooted in the Jesuit commitment to excellence in education and offer education programs for refugees and other forcibly displaced persons both in refugee camps and in non-camp settings.

On May 24, we hosted a panel discussion on “A Crisis Unfolding: Access to Education for Refugees and the Forcibly Displaced.” Partnering with the Global Campaign for Education, JRS welcomed over 50 people to the event at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. Our three-person panel included Dean Brooks, Director of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE); Nina Papadopoulos, Team Lead of Education in Crisis and Conflict for USAID; and Alex Palacios, Chief of Staff for the Global Partnership for Education.

The panelists discussed the greatest challenges that they face in the field. Nina said that no two USAID education programs look the same, highlighting the need for implementation that is flexible, adaptive, and immediate. Studies have demonstrated that the longer children are out of school, the harder it is to get them back in the classroom.

The conversation on challenges also focused on coordinating efforts. Dean stressed coordination as one of the biggest issues for his members at INEE, a global network of UN agencies, NGOs, donors, governments, universities, schools, and affected populations. INEE works to address this problem through community building, facilitating and learning, and providing other resources. Dean called INEE a lifeline for those working in the field, one that he used himself while working in the field for over a decade. The panelists agreed that Education Cannot Wait has played an important role in coordination. Nina said that USAID sees Education Cannot Wait as a wonderful example of partnership and people “rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.”

The audience also learned about the lack of sufficient financing for education in crisis situations. Alex said that less than two percent of funds raised for humanitarian crises goes to education, creating a need that Education Cannot Wait is so crucially filling. He pointed to the recent famine in Yemen as a situation where education must be part of the humanitarian response and immediate action is necessary. Two million children are currently out of school in the country and 30,000 teachers have not been paid in the last year.

The panelists saw education as something that not only has an impact on a personal level, but also on a national level. Nina emphasized that education, if provided equitably, can lead to peace and security. Many of the communities with which USAID partners see the link between education and peacebuilding, and are prioritizing education as one of their primary goals alongside security. The panelists agreed that there is a high demand for certified, credible education in displaced communities. Dean added that access to education must be “quality, relevant, and safe.”

Many of the same challenges posed by our panelists are also outlined in JRS/USA’s latest paper, A Worthy Investment: Access to Education for Sudanese Refugees in Chad.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, estimates that the world currently faces the highest level of displaced persons since World War II. With so many children displaced by crisis, we must provide education quickly and effectively. Education Cannot Wait provides the funding for a timely response. As Dean said best during the panel, “the right to education does not cease during a crisis.”

Article from the Jesuit Refugee Service