19 July 2012

Africa: Humanitarian Aid System Struggling to Adapt to Changing Face of Crisis

Photo: Andy Hall/Oxfam
An aerial view of the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab, located on the border of Kenya and Somalia. During the Horn of Africa food crisis in 2011, just 28% of the UN funding appeal requirements for Somalia had been met weeks before famine was declared.

The humanitarian aid system is struggling to respond and adapt to humanitarian crises, in an increasingly uncertain world characterised by economic instability, conflict and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters brought about by climate change.

This is one of the key findings of the Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) Report 2012, written by Development Initiatives and released today, providing the latest and most comprehensive picture on humanitarian funding. [View report summary]

The report reveals that:

  • Overall humanitarian needs fell in 2011, with 12 million fewer people targeted for humanitarian assistance through the UN's appeals process than in 2010.
  • The level of unmet funding needs has risen year on year, standing 10% higher in 2011 than in 2007. 38% of appeals for funding made by the UN went unmet in 2011.
  • There was a drop of 9%, to $17.1 billion, in humanitarian aid provided by governments and private donors in 2011.
  • A number of European government donors (the Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, Greece) reduced their humanitarian spending for three consecutive years between 2008 and 2011.
  • Private donors' contributions were largely maintained at US$ 4.6 billion in 2011 following growth by 70% in 2010 and remained above 2009 levels.
  • Just two recipients - Haiti and Pakistan - received 42% of total humanitarian aid in 2010.
  • With the exception of Haiti and Pakistan, all other recipients experienced a reduction in their collective share and in the absolute volumes of funds received in 2010.
  • During the Horn of Africa food crisis, just 28% of the UN funding appeal requirements for Somalia had been met by June 2011, weeks before famine was declared.
  • Only 4% of official humanitarian aid was spent on disaster prevention and preparedness between 2006 and 2010.

The report demonstrates that the needs of recent, larger disasters have been met at the expense of smaller, less high profile crises. In particular, there was a major increase in the concentration in just two recipients - Haiti and Pakistan received 42% of the total - while all other recipients experienced a reduction in their collective share and in the absolute volumes of funds received.

The ability and willingness of the international response system to heed early warnings and to respond to humanitarian needs in a timely fashion is called into question by the slow funding response to the Horn of Africa food crisis - just 28% of the UN funding appeal requirements for Somalia had been met by June 2011, weeks before famine was declared.

Overall humanitarian needs fell in 2011, with 12 million fewer people targeted for humanitarian assistance within the UN's consolidated appeals process (CAP) than in the previous year 2010. There was also a drop of 9% in the volumes of humanitarian aid provided by governments' and private donors, to US$17.1 billion. But despite reduced level of humanitarian needs in 2011, almost two-fifths (38%) of appeals for financing made by the UN went unmet. In 2011, unmet financing needs, stood 10% higher than in 2007.

Lydia Poole, GHA Programme Leader at Development Initiatives and author of the report, said, "the system is clearly falling short when levels of unfinanced humanitarian need are higher than we've seen in ten years, despite a drop in the overall level of need. However, the paucity of information at our disposal prevents us from having a clear, full picture, meaning that were are still unable to say whether donors are truly responding to needs - a central tenet of global humanitarian practice." The GHA Report 2012 is being launched today at the ECOSOC Humanitarian Segment in New York. You can view, download, or print the report here.

Click here to view GHA Report Infographics.

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InFocus

Global Aid System Struggles to Adapt, Says New Report

An aerial view of the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab, located on the border of Kenya and Somalia. During the Horn of Africa food crisis in 2011, just 28% of the UN funding appeal requirements for Somalia had been met weeks before famine was declared.

Although the number of people affected by crises in 2011 dropped compared to 2010, this year's Global Humanitarian Assistanc Read more »