Most humanitarian assistance is channelled to long-term recipients

GHA datablog 2

Long, medium and short-term recipients of official humanitarian assistance from DAC donors, 1990–2013

This infographic was developed for our Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2015

Humanitarian assistance may be required to respond quickly but it is rarely a short-term intervention. The bulk of humanitarian assistance goes to the same countries year after year because of recurrent or chronic crises; it often continues to be used to provide basic goods and services in the absence of other international or national investment.

In 2013, 66% (US$ 7.23 billion) of all humanitarian assistance from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors went to long-term recipient countries, defined as those that have received an above-average share of their official development assistance (ODA) in the form of humanitarian assistance for eight years or more between 1999 and 2013. A further 23% (US$2.46 billion) of humanitarian assistance in 2013 went to medium-term recipients, defined as those meeting the same criteria for between three and seven years.

Of the 20 largest recipients of humanitarian assistance in 2013, 19 were long- or medium-term DAC recipients. The three largest recipients of international humanitarian assistance in 2013 – Syria, Occupied Palestinian territory and Sudan – are all long-term recipients.

The fact that so much humanitarian assistance goes to long- and medium-term recipients presents a challenge to both humanitarian and development financing and emphasises the need to address the underlying causes of crises. Multi-year funding arrangements should be the norm in long-term recipient countries, with greater investments in providing more suitable and sustainable solutions to long-term crises with a closer convergence with development assistance and other international resource flows.

For more please see our Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2015.


Long, medium or short-term classification is determined by the length of time the country has received an above-average share of its ODA in the form of humanitarian assistance. Calculations are based on shares of country-allocable humanitarian assistance.

Development Initiatives based on OECD DAC and UN CERF data.