The Global Humanitarian Assistance Report has been published for over 20 years by Development Initiatives.
It provides a detailed picture of international humanitarian assistance, based on extensive and accurate data. You will find here a summary of 4 of the 5 chapters of this report, the last one being the methodology.
Enjoy your reading!
Chapitre 1: People and crisis
This first chapter takes stock of the extent of global poverty in four points. The central message is that the pandemic has both exacerbated existing needs and fueled new crises in countries that did not need humanitarian assistance, increasing the total volume of aid needed.
People living in extreme poverty are increasingly concentrated in fragile countries at high risk from the impacts of Covid-19
Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank PovcalNet, national sources, INFORM Index for COVID Risk and OECD.
- People living in extreme poverty are increasingly concentrated in countries that are fragile and at high risk from the impacts of Covid-19. In 2020, 66% of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1.90/day) were also living in one of the 52 countries classified as fragile by the report, up from 40% in 2010. Poverty reduction is progressing overall but is very uneven and has increased by 8% in fragile states.
- Acute food insecurity disproportionately affects the poorest and has been stimulated by the pandemic. The report estimates that more than 80% of people living in severely food insecure areas live below the international poverty line ($3.20/day).
- The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates humanitarian crises, with more people in more countries affected. The pandemic has exacerbated existing crises but has also been the main driver of humanitarian needs in some countries like Iran. The report estimates that 243.8 million people in 75 countries have been assessed as needing humanitarian assistance (224.9 million in 65 countries in 2019). High numbers of people in need remained concentrated in a small number of countries: more than half of those in need in 2021 lived in just nine countries.
- The number of displaced people increased for the ninth consecutive year to 82.1 million (+3.4%). In 2020, 10 countries hosted 54% of IDPs, a similar proportion to 2019. Many IDPs are in situations of protracted displacement with no possibility of safe return to their homes.
- 58% were forcibly displaced within the country;
- 32% were refugees (26.3 million);
- 5.1% were asylum seekers (4.2 million);
- 4.4% (3.6 million) were Venezuelans displaced abroad.
20 countries with the largest forcibly displaced populations and risk of impacts from
Covid-19, 2019 and 2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on data from UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Index for Risk Management (INFORM) and Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
The report also makes two findings:
- Women and girls in conflict zones are twice as likely to experience gender-based violence. This gap is likely to increase with the pandemic. The UN estimates that there will be 13 million early child marriages between 2020 and 2030 due to the pandemic.
- The availability and delivery of covid vaccine has not been equitable, and countries experiencing a protracted crisis have some of the lowest single-dose vaccine coverage rates in the world (2.4% compared to 12.5% in other developing countries covered by COVAX).
Chapitre 2 : Humanitarian and wider crisis financing
In this chapter, the report highlights that in 2020 global humanitarian needs have increased faster than ever, while the growth of humanitarian aid has stalled. International humanitarian aid volumes had been growing steadily over the years 2012 to 2018 (12% per year on average), peaking in 2018 at $31.3 billion.
International humanitarian assistance, 2016–2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service, UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and our unique dataset for private contributions.
Funding needs through UN-coordinated appeals were also following a steady increase (+90% compared to 2015). However, actual funding declined for the first time in 5 years. Of the $38.8 billion requested, $18.8 billion (including $5.7 billion related to covid) was not funded, compared to $11.1 billion in 2019.
Of the 55 calls in 2020, only 7 received 75% or more of the required funding. The number of calls with less than a quarter of the funding requirement met worsened significantly in 2020, with 17 calls receiving less than 25% coverage. In 2019, no calls were funded at less than 25%.
Funding and unmet requirements, UN-coordinated appeals, 2011–2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA FTS and UNHCR data
The UN-coordinated appeals do not represent all the needs, so significant funding is provided outside of the appeals. For example, in 2020, the needs of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) rose sharply to a record level of over 1 billion, while the funding gap continued to widen (58% coverage).
In addition, the role of the broader development community is increasingly important and countries in crisis now receive far more development funds than humanitarian funds.
Official Development Assistance (ODA) received by countries in crisis has thus increased from 47% of total ODA in 2010 ($51 billion) to 65% in 2019 ($94 billion). The proportion of ODA reported as humanitarian aid has doubled from 15% in 2010 ($7.6 billion) to 29% in 2019 ($27.2 billion).
ODA from multilateral development banks to the 20 largest recipients of humanitarian
Source: Development Initiatives based on OECD DAC CRS
Multilateral development banks (MDBs) have become increasingly active in crisis contexts, providing increasing volumes of ODA to countries in crisis.
MDB disbursements to the 20 largest recipients of humanitarian assistance have doubled since 2014, from $5.4 billion to more than $10.7 billion in 2019. However, the share of disbursements in the form of grants has decreased significantly in favor of loans.
For the epidemic response, total MDB financing reached $120 billion in April 2021, 95% of which was in the form of loans. The IMF has been the largest contributor, committing $50.4 billion to date.
Finally, the total volume of ODA with disaster risk reduction as its primary objective has increased from $1.4 billion in 2018 to $1.9 billion in 2019.
Chapitre 3 : donors and recipients of humanitarian and wider crisis financing
This third chapter makes the key finding that most government donors increased their contributions in 2020, but significant reductions by a few key donors caused overall aid to stagnate.
The volume of international humanitarian aid from the top 20 government donors in 2020 stabilized at $23.1 billion. As in previous years, the top 20 public donors in 2020 contributed 96 percent of total international humanitarian aid allocations. The top three donors (US, Germany, and the UK) accounted for 61% of total donor contributions.
20 largest public donors of humanitarian assistance in 2020 and percentage change
Source: Development Initiatives based on OCED Development Assistance Committee (DAC), UN OCHA Financial Tracking Service and UN Central Emergency Response Fund data
The largest donors to Covid-19 were the United States, Germany, and Japan.
It should also be noted that many donor countries also hosted exiles and that most government spending within their own borders is not accounted for. In the previous year, three countries accounted for nearly two-thirds of all in-country refugee spending: Germany (29 percent), the United States (21 percent), and France (13 percent).
Another important indicator highlighted in this chapter is the proportion of gross national income (GNI) devoted to international humanitarian assistance because it reflects the importance of humanitarian spending relative to the size of a country’s economy. Within this framework, five donors provided more than 0.1 percent of GNI as international humanitarian assistance in 2020, as shown in the following infographic.
20 donors providing the most humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GNI, 2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on OECD DAC, UN OCHA FTS, UN CERF, World Bank World Development Indicators and International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook data
The proportion of total private funding from individuals continues to grow. For example, in 2019, international humanitarian aid from private donors increased by 9%, from US$6.2 billion in 2018 to a record $6.8 billion in 2019.
Sources of private international humanitarian assistance, 2015–2019
Source: Development Initiatives based on GHA’s unique dataset of private contributions.
While total international humanitarian aid stagnated, 112 countries received more than $5 million in humanitarian aid compared to 69 countries in 2019. One explanation is that the top 10 recipients received 57% of all funding or $13.3 billion (-11%) in 2020 compared to 66% ($15 billion) in 2019.
In addition, with $1.3 billion provided in response to the pandemic, these countries actually received $12.0 billion for other pre-existing or emerging humanitarian needs in 2020, $3.0 billion less than in 2019.
Overall, countries outside of the top 10 recipients received more funding in 2020 than in 2019, but less if those for Covid-19 are removed.
10 largest recipients of international humanitarian assistance, 2019–2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Financial Tracking Service (FTS) data.
CHAPITRE 4 : funding for effectiveness and efficiency
According to this chapter, international humanitarian assistance would have been provided broadly in the same way in 2019 as in previous years: multilateral organizations received most of their funding from public donors, and NGOs from private donors.
Channels of delivery of international humanitarian assistance, 2019
Source: Development Initiatives based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) data and Development Initiatives’ unique dataset for private contributions.
Local and national actors are often the first to respond to crises, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on access. Commitments made at the Grand Bargain, an agreement among the largest donors and humanitarian agencies in 2016, included a global target of 25% of total international humanitarian aid transferred to local and national actors by 2020. Since then, while the absolute volumes of international humanitarian aid passed directly to local and national actors have increased, the scale of this aid falls far short of expectations.
Direct funding to local and national actors reporting to UN OCHA FTS, 2016–2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA FTS data
Pooled funds are an increasingly important part of humanitarian funding because of their responsiveness and flexibility. They consist of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Country-based pooled fund (CBPF). Contributions to the UN pooled funds fell sharply in 2020 to $1.5 billion from a record $1.8 billion in 2019.
It should be noted, however, that the proportion of PBC funding to country organizations continues to grow despite the absolute decrease in CBPFs.
Total funding to UN-managed humanitarian pooled funds, 2011−2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA’s CBPF Grant Management System and UN CERF data.
Quality funds (multi-year, unearmarked funding as a proportion of total funding) are another option favored by the Grand Bargain. They should represent 30% of international humanitarian aid by 2020. While they have increased significantly in volume by 2020, as a proportion of total funding, they remain below 2016 levels.
Proportion of resources received by UN agencies reported as earmarked and unearmarked, 2016–2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on data provided bilaterally by UN agencies.
Multi-year funding is, according to the Grand Bargain, funding that lasts 24 months or more from the start date of the initial funding agreement. This method of funding provides implementing agencies with predictable resource levels that can allow for efficiencies and effectiveness by allowing them to plan ahead.
15 donors, which provided 84% of total government humanitarian assistance in 2020, allocated 42% (US$6.5 billion) of their multi-year humanitarian funding in 2020 compared to 50% (US$7.3 billion) in 2019.
Finally, the volume of humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) continued to grow in 2020 across all types of organizations. This method that can be rapidly deployed in suitable areas was often the modality chosen to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Total funding for humanitarian cash and voucher assistance, 2015–2020
Source: Development Initiatives based on data collected with the help of the Cash Learning Partnership from implementing partners and on UN OCHA FTS data
To summarize, here are the key 2020 trends to remember:
– Humanitarian needs are growing: 243.8 million people living in 75 countries have been assessed as needing humanitarian assistance. The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating and creating humanitarian crises.
– While global humanitarian needs have grown faster than ever, the growth of humanitarian assistance has stalled. Appeal coverage rates are declining.
– Most government donors increased their contributions in 2020, but significant reductions from a small number of key donors have caused overall aid to stagnate. Overall, countries received less funding in 2020 than in 2019, particularly if those for Covid-19 are removed.
– The structure of international humanitarian assistance remains the same: Multilateral organizations received most of their funding from public donors, and NGOs from private donors. The funding commitments made at the Grand Bargain are far from being met.