The World Humanitarian Summit: Making financing work for crisis-affected people


Financing is currently failing crisis-affected populations. Increasing numbers of people are affected by crises and unable to access the resources they need to cope. Despite a record US$24.5 billion of international humanitarian assistance in 2014, the shortfall continues to grow. Change is urgently required, both inside and outside the humanitarian system, to ensure that vulnerable people are better protected from crises in the years to come.

The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) brings together a range of stakeholders to set an agenda for the future of humanitarian action. Thematic and regional consultations have been ongoing since 2014 and will culminate in a meeting in Istanbul in May 2016. Development Initiatives (DI) has contributed to the consultation process, primarily with a focus on financing through membership of the Humanitarian Effectiveness Thematic Team, and will continue to remain engaged for the duration of discussions as well as the follow-up.

This position paper outlines the actions that we believe are necessary to ensure that financing improves the lives of people affected by crisis. Not only should these action points be reflected in the WHS synthesis report and the UN Secretary-General’s report, but they are relevant for all actors engaging in the summit and the delivery of recommendations thereafter.

As a first and foundational step, the WHS must put people at the centre of all of its discussions, priorities and resulting recommendations. It should do so within an overall vision that no one should lose their life, livelihood, assets, hope or dignity as a result of crisis.

Within this vision, we propose the following three recommendations:

1. Increasing transparency of financing to inform local, national and international level decisions during a crisis.
2. Widening approaches for deeper impact; coherently mobilising national and international resources for sustainable solutions

  • Supporting national ownership and building on national resources
  • Better targeting of international non-humanitarian resources.

3. Making better use of existing resources; reforming humanitarian financing

  • Pre-empting peak demands
  • Better donor coordination
  • Funding for the first and last responders.

The WHS is a moment of real opportunity to make a difference. Current humanitarian needs are immense and the changes that the WHS brings about have to be commensurate with the scale of the problem. While it is clear that there are no magic solutions, we believe that the summit itself in May 2016, and more importantly the work that follows, can begin to shape a better way forward for crisis-prone and affected people.