Yesterday’s Syria crisis pledging conference in Kuwait, drew much important attention to crisis, but was it successful in drawing in funding? The main goal of the conference was the mobilisation of immediate financial support from the donor community for the response to the Syrian crisis where around 9.3 million people are estimated to be in need of assistance. It also allowed the refugee-hosting Lebanese and Jordanian governments a platform to share their priorities and national response plans and generated media coverage raising awareness about the deteriorating situation in Syria, which is likely to have an impact on national appeals and private giving too.
Fewer pledges but more money
In Kuwait this year, 39 pledges were received (from 38 countries and the Islamic NGO consortium), so there were fewer pledges than the 43 (42 countries and a consortia of Kuwait NGOs) in 2013. But yesterday there was a significant increase in the total amount pledged to just over US$2.4 billion (for an appeal of $6.5 billion), in comparison with US$1.5 billion (for a revised appeal of US$4.4 billion) in 2013. If committed, this funding will contribute to supporting the response to the Syrian crisis, not only within Syria but also in Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. The pledged amount of US$2.4 billion is just over one-third of the UN appeal amount of US$6.5 million, just as last year’s pledges represented around a third of the appeal then. Not all of these pledges will go to the UN appeal with donors also likely to direct their assistance through other non-UN channels such as the International Committee for the Red Cross (IFRC).
Figure 1: A snapshot of the major pledges made at Kuwait II in 2014 in comparison with Kuwait I in 2013
Source: UN OCHA FTS downloaded on 15 January 2014. The graph shows pledges for the NGO consortium which includes Kuwait’s International Islamic Charitable Organisation. A similar pledge from NGOs in Kuwait was received in 2013 and is used as a comparison.
Were there any new donors?
A number of donors pledged in 2014 for the first time including Qatar (US$60 million) and Oman (US$10 million) from the Gulf donor countries, but also the Netherlands (US$17.9 million), New Zealand (US$4 million), Mexico (US$3 million), India (US$2 million), the Czech Republic (US$1.4 million), and Malaysia (US$0.5 million). Some of these donors such as the Netherlands and Qatar are already leading donors to the Syrian response (US$76 million and US$117 million respectively between 2011 and 2013). These two countries also score well on the fair share calculations carried out by Oxfam with 172% and 472% respectively. For others such as Oman and Mexico, this pledge is the first substantial funding pledges by these countries to the crisis appeal. Also striking was the large pledge from the NGO consortium of US$407 million. This figure included Kuwait’s International Islamic Charitable Organisation (US$142 million) and combined pledges from other NGOs. However, analysis has not yet been done to ascertain the extent to which the pledges in Kuwait yesterday represent new commitments, or are carry-overs from 2013.
Are the pledges likely to be followed up by concrete commitments in the short-term?
As it stands now, immediately after the Kuwait pledging conference, of the main donors only the EC and the UK have disbursed funding for 2014. The timing of the Kuwait conference is scheduled to encourage donors to disburse commitments early on in the year to allow urgent requirements to be met. But this was not the case in 2013 leading the UN to call on donors two months after the Kuwait I conference to commit funding which had been pledged. Again, in his speech at the Kuwait II 2014 conference the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon urged donors to ensure pledges are met. A high-level donor group has also been set up to track pledges. For example, the pledge made by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2012 was one of the largest (US$300 million) but according to OCHA FTS as of 15 January 2014, US$267 million remained uncommitted. The UAE still remains one of the top donors to the Syrian crisis with funding amounting to US$86.9 million between 2011 and 2013 and scored 142% on the Oxfam fair share analysis for January 2014. The UAE chose not to pledge at this year’s conference.
Figure 2: The major pledges made at Kuwait I compared with committed funding and uncommitted pledges by donor (all 2013 figures)
Source: UN OCHA FTS downloaded on 15 January 2014. CERF imputations are included in overall donor figures. A decision was made to only include major donors and those who had pledged significant amounts at the Kuwait I conference.
Is there likely to be more funding after the conference?
The pledges made by the 38 countries are only a beginning. Canada, for example, has been one of the top six overall donors to the Syrian crisis response since 2011 (giving US$204 million), and pledged US$25 million in 2013 but did not pledge anything new at the 2014 conference. Canada scores 142% on the Oxfam fair share analysis, and the likelihood of Canada’s continued financial support is backed up by a statement by Canada’s Minister for International Development, Christian Paradis in October 2013. Other significant donors who pledged at Kuwait I but did not pledge anything at Kuwait II yesterday include: the UAE (US$300 million), Canada (US$25 million), and Bahrain (US$20 million), Greece (US$0.07 million), Malta (US$0.04 million), Lithuania (US$0.03 million), and Cyprus (US$0.02 million).
How does the donor conference change the funding picture?
Figure 3 gives some idea of how the pledges from yesterday are likely to impact on overall funding (2011-2014). The pledges from Kuwait (US$500 million) and Japan (US$120 million) will significantly increase funding from those two countries, and among the smaller donors Ireland (US$28 million) and Italy (US$51 million). As Figure 2 illustrates, funding from some donors is also likely to increase during the year although these early pledges at Kuwait II will be vital in meeting the most pressing requirements.
Figure 3: A graph showing overall donor funding (2011-2014) if 2014 pledges are committed.
This blog is a summary of the data immediately available on pledges after the conference. Over the next month an update will be done on commitments received since the Kuwait II conference which will provide an insight into whether pledges are translating into commitments to meet the urgent requirements. For a more detailed analysis of funding the UN appeals for Syria and Syrian refugees, please take a look at our funding update here.
For further information please contact Development Initiatives’ Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) programme.