The UN launched its humanitarian funding requirements this week, with a record request of US$16.4 billion to meet the needs of more than 57 million people in 2015. This is a major escalation from the initial US$12.9 billion requested for appeals in 2014 – an increase of 27%.
This is the largest request to date at the time of the launch date. It includes a new Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for Ukraine, which hasn’t previously appeared in the list of appeals. It also includes increased funding for four Level 3 emergencies – the UN’s highest level of emergency – in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Syria and Iraq, totalling US$11.3 billion (69% of global requirements). The crisis in Syria alone, including the two appeals to respond to affected populations both in Syria (SHARP) and in neighbouring countries (RRP), accounts for 44% of the total amount requested globally.
Haiti and the Philippines have dropped off the list of appeals. The Haitian government is working with the UN and its partners on a transitional appeal for 2015 to 2016; and the government of the Philippines announced an end to the humanitarian phase of the response to Typhoon Haiyan in July 2014. Financial requirements for the Ebola crisis are also not included – currently US$1.5 billion for 2014 – since it is first and foremost a public health crisis, rather than a humanitarian one.
US$16.4 billion is certainly not the final figure for 2015 – far from it. The request doesn’t include requirements for Djibouti nor for nine countries in Africa’s Sahel region (Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauretania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal). These appeals are scheduled to launch in February 2015, and if their requirements for 2015 are similar to this year’s then together they could amount to an additional US$2 billion. Other notable absentees from 2015’s list of SRPs are the Republic of Congo and Libya, both of which requested funding through UN-coordinated appeals in 2014. No SRP for the Republic of Congo is expected in 2015, though a new SRP for Libya is currently under consideration.
Figure 1: Launch requirements and revised requirements for UN-coordinated appeals, 2011–2015
Sources: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA FTS data, OCHA Global Humanitarian Assistance Overviews and OCHA press statements.
Notes: Data downloaded 9 December 2014. Launch requirement figures are approximate and detail advance funding requests before the year has commenced. Increases in requirements reflect adjustments made during the year. Data drawn from OCHA overviews of global humanitarian response requirements or OCHA press statements use numbers that are rounded up or down. The overall requirement figure for 2014 has been reduced to take into account a partial overlap between SRPs.
Past experience has shown that the amount requested at the outset of the year rarely bears any resemblance to the revised financial requirements at the end of the year. The UN is aware of this and has cautioned that its 2015 figures are provisional and expected to increase as more SRPs are finalised and as events unfold across the world in the next twelve months.
As Figure 1 shows, the amount requested for 2014 at the time of the 2014 SRP launch was US$12.9 billion. By 9 December 2014 that amount had gone up to US$19.2 billion – an increase of 48%. The same was true in 2013, which saw requirements go up by 51% throughout the course of the year – from US$8.5 billion to US$12.8 billion. Even if we take a conservative approach and project a 35% increase in requirements during 2015 (the average % increase over the last four years), the revised requirements by December 2015 could be as high as US$22.1 billion. If they increase by more, 50% say, then the requirements could reach a staggering US$24.5 billion.
Figure 2: Timeline of SRP 2014 funding requested and funds committed/contributed
Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA FTS data and OCHA overview of Global Humanitarian Response 2014
Notes: Data downloaded 9 December 2014. Funding received before or during December 2013 includes amounts that were retrospectively allocated to SRPs in 2014.
Unpredictable funding, and to some extent unpredictable needs, make it difficult to project either the funds required or the likelihood of securing those resources. However, a more detailed look at 2014 (Figure 2) can tell us something about what to expect. Very occasionally, appeals were adjusted downwards during the year. More often, however, there were significant increases as situations such as those in Iraq and South Sudan deteriorated further, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving unprecedented numbers reliant on humanitarian assistance.
Funding reached record levels in 2014, with US$9.2 billion received for activities within the SRPs. But the parallel increase in needs meant that as of 9 December, only 50% of requirements had been met. With no end in sight for many of the major crises driving this week’s UN record funding request, it looks like 2015 will continue to see a growing gap between the funding required for humanitarian response and available resources.
Note: Watch this space early next year for a more detailed analysis of the 2015 SRPs.