International resources to humanitarian recipients are growing, but could better target vulnerability

GHA 2015_8.5

Limited domestic finances in many crisis-affected countries means that international resource flows are vital. These flows to the largest 20 humanitarian recipients have more than trebled since 2000, reaching US$213 billion in 2013. They comprise a mix of resources, for example remittances, official development assistance (ODA) and humanitarian assistance (see figure). Despite increasing just under five-fold between 2000 and 2013, international humanitarian assistance forms a comparatively small percentage of these flows, but remains a vital source of assistance to such countries.

Yet resources (including ODA) have not necessarily gone to the most vulnerable countries. While eight of the largest humanitarian recipients between 2004 and 2013 fall within the largest 20 recipients of ODA, a further eight (Sudan, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Syria, Chad, Somalia, South Sudan and Myanmar) are outside the largest 40 ODA recipients. This suggests that longer term aid investments have not accompanied or followed on from humanitarian response, particularly in fragile states.

Different international resources are required in different volumes and configurations to both respond to immediate needs and to invest in preventive and durable solutions that can build resilience and secure sustainable development outcomes. The growth in international resource flows to crises-affected and vulnerable populations highlights the need to design humanitarian assistance within the context of other actors and resources that may be able to contribute in different ways over the timeline of a crisis.

As identified in the Financing for Development (FFD) and World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) consultations, harnessing the potential of multiple sources of finance is crucial – this includes public and private as well as domestic and international finance, and involves a broad range of actors across the development, commercial, security and environmental sectors.

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For more please see our Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) report 2015.


Data in this chart is based on the largest 20 recipients of humanitarian assistance 2004–2013.


Development Initiatives based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service (FTS), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO) data.