New research highlights Africa’s challenge of both protracted and forgotten humanitarian crises

New research by Development Initiatives finds that Ethiopia has been in the largest 10 recipients of humanitarian assistance every year for the last decade, and the Democratic Republic of Congo has featured as a main recipient for nine of the last 10 years – making these recurrent and protracted crises two of the most significant still ongoing today. For the first time since 2004, Sudan and Somalia are not on the list of ten largest recipients of assistance however both countries remain high on the list (in eleventh and twelfth place respectively, according to latest available official data).

The Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2016, published today, also found that a record total of US$28 billion was given in humanitarian assistance last year, but that the funding for crises differs significantly across countries. While some African countries are receiving large amounts of assistance, the continent also has a number of prominent forgotten crises. Gambia experienced the largest shortfall in funding requirements via UN-coordinated appeals. Algeria has appeared on the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department’s Forgotten Crisis Assessment index every year since 2004, while Libya and Egypt appear on the 2015 index for the first time.

Harpinder Collacott, Executive Director at Development Initiatives, said “As crises in the Middle East attract greater donor attention, other crises, many of which are in Africa, attract much less attention and as a result are persistently underfunded or forgotten. Funding needs to respond to where the needs are greatest, and making sure crises are not forgotten is vital in efforts to end poverty and ensure no one is left behind.”

The report also finds that the South of Sahara region witnessed a noticeable increase in the number of people affected by drought and flooding, increasing from 7.6 million people in 2014 to 23.5 million in 2015. Around half (10.2 million people) were in Ethiopia, which ranked third in 2015 for the number of people affected by disasters, behind the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and India. This increase is likely to be associated with the current El Niño weather phenomenon, the impact of which continues to be felt in 2016. The UN estimates that the number of people likely to be affected this year in developing countries could reach 60 million.


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Contact: Emma Cooke, Communications Officer at Development Initiatives

E: T: +44(0)1179 272505


Notes to Editors:

  • Data graphics are available
  • Interviews can be arranged with Charlotte Lattimer, Senior Policy & Engagement Adviser, and Sophia Swithern, Head of Research & Analysis


Key findings include:

  • A record total of US$21.8 billion was given in international humanitarian assistance globally last year.
  • In 2014 Syria was the largest recipient of assistance at US$2 billion, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.
  • In 2015 the US was the largest donor of international humanitarian assistance at US$6.4 billion, followed by Turkey (where refugee hosting is included), the UK, EU institutions, Germany, Sweden and the UAE.
  • Shortfalls in funding to UN-coordinated appeals grew to 45%, with large disparities in funding between crises – for example Iraq received 74% of funding requested while Gambia had only 5% of requirements met.
  • At least 76% of people living in extreme poverty – around 677 million people – are estimated to live in countries that are either politically fragile, environmentally vulnerable or both. However, the real number is likely to be much higher, since it is often those most at risk who are missing from poverty data.
  • The number of people displaced by violence and persecution globally is now a record 65.3 million, generating severe suffering and humanitarian need.
  • People affected by natural disasters over the last decade have predominantly been in Middle Income Countries. However in 2015 the number of people affected in Low Income Countries significantly increased, reaching 43 million – 48% of the total – placing further strain on already poor and vulnerable populations.


About Development Initiatives

Development Initiatives (DI) is an independent international development organisation that focuses on the role of data in driving poverty eradication and sustainable development. DI’s work on global humanitarian assistance provides objective, independent, rigorous data and analysis on humanitarian financing and related aid flows.