International humanitarian assistance in 2015 reached a record total of US$28bn

Development Initiatives has today released figures based on new data that show total international humanitarian assistance given last year reached a record amount of US$28bn. This is the third consecutive annual rise in funding, yet despite this record amount, funding requested by the United Nations via coordinated appeals experienced an unprecedented shortfall of 45%.

The World Humanitarian Summit, taking place on 23–24 May 2016, brings the world together with the aim of initiating concrete action to help countries and communities better prepare for and respond to crises. Discussions at the Summit will in part focus on how to improve the volumes and effectiveness of funding.

Development Initiatives has pre-released these figures ahead of its annual Global Humanitarian Assistance report. The full report is published in June 2016.

Key findings

• Total international humanitarian assistance 2015: US$28bn
The highest-recorded volume of international humanitarian assistance was given in 2015 – US$28bn. This is the third consecutive annual increase in overall spending, and an increase of 12% from 2014.

• Government contributions total 2015: US$21.8bn
Government donations have increased by almost 11% – from US$19.6bn to US$21.8bn.
– The US continues to dominate, providing 89% of the regional North and Central America total.
– The UK contributed 27% of the European total.
– Gulf donors have driven an increase in assistance of more than 500% from the Middle East and North of Sahara region over the last four years.

• Private contributions total 2015: US$6.2bn
Estimates of private donations show an increase of around 13%, from US$5.5bn to US$6.2bn.

• Shortfall in funding for UN-coordinated appeals 2015: 45%
In 2015, UN-coordinated appeals, which aim to raise funds from across the donor community to address humanitarian crises, experienced the largest shortfall in funding to date – 45%.

• International humanitarian assistance as a proportion of total resources to crisis-affected countries 2014: 5%
Analysis of the 20 countries that received the most international humanitarian assistance in 2014 shows that this resource flow made up only a small proportion of the total funding that plays a role in crisis.

• Gap between best- and worst-funded crisis 2015: 69 percentage points
– Most well-funded crisis: Iraq at 74%.
– Most underfunded crisis: Gambia at just 5%.
The shortfall varied from country to country, and in the case of ‘forgotten crises’ we see particularly severe shortfalls by comparison. Gambia received just 5% of the funding requested in its UN-coordinated appeals. By contrast, the Iraq appeal saw 74% of needs met .

• People in extreme poverty who are vulnerable to crisis 2015: 677 million
Efforts to end poverty remain closely related to crisis, with 76% of those in extreme poverty living in countries that are either environmentally vulnerable, politically fragile, or both. The situation of these 677 million people highlights the need for development and humanitarian investments to work together and ensure no one is left behind.


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Contact: Anna Abuhelal, Head of Communications
T: +44 (0) 1179 272 505 M: +44 (0)7545668378

Notes to editors:
1. Further findings via a downloadable infographic and chart pack are available from Friday 20 May 2016 at

2. Charlotte Lattimer, Senior Policy & Engagement Adviser, and Sophia Swithern, Research & Analysis Lead, are available for interview.

3. Charts and data can be provided, and can be used with the following credit:
– If using our data and figure:
Data analysis and figure development by Development Initiatives:
– If using our data and redesigning for your own figure:
Data analysis by Development Initiatives:

4. Development Initiatives is also launching a report on humanitarian transparency ahead of its side event at the World Humanitarian Summit. A copy of this report is available on request.