We know that global financing for humanitarian preparedness and response is much bigger and more complex than the limited picture we are able to see from existing reporting platforms. There is no global reporting system for domestic government expenditure on humanitarian assistance and therefore no reliable total for these contributions. Many international donors do not report their allocations to existing reporting platforms and private contributions are also often missing. The current set-up makes it difficult to gain a holistic picture of financing for crisis-affected countries across different spheres, such as development, humanitarian, security and climate adaptation – and to understand what people are actually receiving.
Improving the financial data available in humanitarian crises is essential to increase operational effectiveness. Better reporting would improve transparency in terms of:
- the totality of funding, including resources beyond humanitarian assistance
- traceability beyond the first-level recipient to see the transaction chain from donor to crisis-affected person and the time it takes for the money to work its way through the system
- timeliness to allow real-time data on available resources in fast-moving humanitarian settings.[i]
Commitments to use and improve existing systems and tools for publishing data on development and humanitarian financing, such as the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), would bring immediate results. Improvements to the IATI standard currently in progress mean that by the end of 2015 it will be fully compatible and interoperable with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and other aid coordination platforms.
This revolutionary step-change in the availability of information during an emergency depends on one key commitment: the preparedness of donors and other agencies to publish and refresh their data on humanitarian activities in a regular and timely fashion, particularly in sudden onset and rapidly escalating emergencies, when daily updating is critical to allow a real-time picture of the changing funding situation.[ii]
The WHS should seek a clear commitment from all stakeholders to agree to this by the end of 2016 and to put in place a roadmap for implementation. Beyond that, all stakeholders can commit to a more accountable response to the needs of crisis-affected people by supporting national data systems and new technology and innovations in the availability and use of data.
For more information see our briefing paper The World Humanitarian Summit: Making financing work for crisis-affected people
[ii] Upfront investments in linking reporting systems, such as automation via IATI, would reduce the reporting burden in the heat of a crisis.