New report reveals humanitarian aid system struggles to meet needs
Our partner programme, Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA), has today launched GHA Report 2012, the most comprehensive annual assessment of humanitarian funding. The report presents a troubling picture of a humanitarian system struggling to adapt to the changing face of crisis.
A clear need for improvements in the availability and transparency of data underlies the report’s findings. Some of the key trends and messages revealed by the report are outlined below.
- In 2011 despite the fall in the level of needs (12 million fewer people were targeted for humanitarian assistance through the UN’s appeals process than in 2010), unmet humanitarian need reached the highest level (38%) in a decade.
- 2011 also saw a drop of 9% (to US$17.1 billion) in governments’ and private donors’ collective contributions, following a rising trajectory of the overall humanitarian financing response up to 2010.
- There have been shifts in how donors fund. For example, the emerging role of private donors was confirmed by high levels of private giving that defied the current climate of austerity. (Private contributions were largely maintained in 2011 at US$ 4.6 billion, following growth by 70% in 2010.) Meanwhile, a number of government donors have reduced their contributions substantially.
- There were startlingly low levels of investment in building resilience to shock and disaster risk: only 4% of official humanitarian aid was spent on disaster prevention and preparedness between 2006 and 2010.
- Response remains too slow and the system fails to heed early warnings. The Horn of Africa food crisis is a prime example – just 28% of the UN funding appeal requirements for Somalia had been met by June 2011, weeks before famine was declared.
- Large, high profile crises are prioritised at the expense of smaller ones. In 2010 just two recipients – Haiti and Pakistan – received 42% of total humanitarian aid, while other recipients experienced a reduction in their collective share and in absolute volumes.
However, we are limited in our analysis by the paucity of data. We are unable to trace humanitarian financing through the system from donor right down to intended beneficiary. Real-time transaction-level data, which can be provided by the IATI standard, is essential to filling this information gap. It is only in this way that intended beneficiaries, tax payers in donor countries, donors and all actors within the delivery system, will be able to assess the performance of donors and hold them to account.
In an increasingly uncertain world characterised by economic instability, conflict and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters brought about by climate change, the humanitarian system is struggling to adapt.
GHA Report 2012 presents transparent and reliable analysis of how the international response has measured up to the scale of global humanitarian crises, and is an essential resource for all those working to address humanitarian crisis and vulnerability. You can read more about GHA Report 2012 on the GHA website, where you can also download and print the document.
If you would like to contact GHA or would like to request a hard copy of the report, please get in touch.