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  • Factsheet
  • 26 October 2020

Financing humanitarian needs amid the Covid-19 pandemic

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This factsheet presents updated analysis on humanitarian assistance being provided to meet needs emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. It looks at who is receiving assistance, who this assistance is coming from, and how funding is being channelled. It also looks at the coverage of UN appeal requirements and how the proportions of requirements met for response to the pandemic compare with the proportions met for other crises.

Building on earlier analysis presented in the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2020, the factsheet focuses on humanitarian financing going to the Covid-19 pandemic response and looks at how – in the midst of the pandemic – the funding picture is changing. Below you can find information on:

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Which countries are the largest recipients of international humanitarian grants for response to the Covid-19 pandemic – and what volumes are being directed to these countries?

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Figure 1: Countries experiencing protracted crisis are receiving the largest volumes of humanitarian grants for Covid-19 pandemic response

20 largest recipient countries of international humanitarian grants for Covid-19 pandemic response, 1 October 2020

Figure 1: Countries experiencing protracted crisis are receiving the largest volumes of humanitarian grants for Covid-19 pandemic response

This stacked bar chart shows the twenty largest recipient countries of international humanitarian grants for Covid-19 pandemic response ranked by volume of funding and with information on whether this funding is committed or disbursed. Yemen (with US$224 million) and Syria (with US$206 million) are the two largest recipient countries.

Country
name
Protracted
crisis country
Commitments
(US$ millions)
Disbursements (US$ millions) Total funding  (US$ millions)
Yemen Yes 149 75 224
Syria Yes 136 70 206
Afghanistan Yes 48 106 154
Iraq Yes 50 94 145
Bangladesh Yes 43 88 131
Sudan Yes 45 84 130
Ethiopia Yes 23 86 109
South Sudan Yes 52 52 104
Lebanon Yes 30 74 103
DRC Yes 46 49 94
Pakistan Yes 65 27 91
CAR Yes 37 41 78
Somalia Yes 40 35 75
Myanmar Yes 50 25 75
Nigeria Yes 29 43 72
Jordan Yes 15 51 66
Iran No 28 42 70
Turkey Yes 56 11 66
Palestine Yes 10 39 49
Mali Yes 15 33 48

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA's) Financial Tracking Service (FTS).

Notes: CAR = Central African Republic; DRC = Democratic Republic of the Congo. Protracted crisis countries are defined as those with at least five consecutive years of UN-coordinated humanitarian appeals or refugee response plans as of the year of analysis. As per the FTS glossary, commitments are contractual funding obligations between donor and recipient organisations that might not yet be transferred at all or in full. Disbursements reflect funds already transferred to recipients. Data is in current prices. Data was downloaded from FTS on 1 October 2020. The figure includes all international humanitarian assistance on FTS that is reported to be relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic response, both inside and outside of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

International grant support for response to the Covid-19 pandemic is being provided as both humanitarian grants, to meet immediate humanitarian needs, and development grants, to address the wider socioeconomic and health impacts of the pandemic. On 1 October 2020, 64% of the total humanitarian grant funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response had been allocated for support to specific countries – with remaining funding designated for response at the global level (26%), to multiple countries (1.0%) or with the destination yet to be specified (8.6%).[1]

  • Funding patterns for international humanitarian grants to the Covid-19 pandemic response largely mirror those for the response to other crises; however, funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response is spread more evenly, across a wider number of recipients.
  • Yemen and Syria are the two largest recipients of humanitarian grant funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response, as they are for grant funding to other humanitarian needs.[2] However, they have received a smaller proportion of total grant funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response than to other humanitarian needs: Yemen has received 4.2% of total humanitarian grant funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response, and Syria has received 3.9%; these proportions are considerably smaller than the 9.1% and 10.3% received, respectively, as a proportion of total humanitarian grant funding to all needs for the same time period.
  • Among the 20 largest recipients of humanitarian grant funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response, only one country (Iran) is not currently experiencing protracted crisis.[3]
  • Notable among the 20 largest recipients of humanitarian grant funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response, are Pakistan and Iran. These countries are receiving a higher proportion of total humanitarian grant funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response than they have typically received for other needs.
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Appeal targets and requirements met: how does funding for the Covid-19 pandemic response compare with that for other humanitarian needs?

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Figure 2: Coverage of appeal targets varies widely – with the majority of countries having a lower proportion of requirements met for Covid-19 pandemic response than for other humanitarian needs

Requirements met for Covid-19 pandemic response, compared with other humanitarian needs, 1 October 2020

Figure 2: Coverage of appeal targets varies widely – with the majority of countries having a lower proportion of requirements met for Covid-19 pandemic response than for other humanitarian needs

Requirements met for Covid-19 pandemic response, compared with other humanitarian needs, 1 October 2020

Ranking
by Covid-19 pandemic response requirements
Destination
location name
Response plan
component
Coverage
1 Afghanistan Covid-19 pandemic response 32%
Other needs 33%
2 Bangladesh Covid-19 pandemic response 28%
Other needs 51%
3 Yemen Covid-19 pandemic response 38%
Other needs 39%
4 Syria Covid-19 pandemic response 42%
Other needs 43%
5 South Sudan Covid-19 pandemic response 22%
Other needs 41%
6 Ethiopia Covid-19 pandemic response 19%
Other needs 32%
7 Colombia Covid-19 pandemic response 10%
Other needs 13%
8 Sudan Covid-19 pandemic response 33%
Other needs 47%
9 DRC Covid-19 pandemic response 33%
Other needs 21%
10 Iraq Covid-19 pandemic response 44%
Other needs 61%
11 Kenya Covid-19 pandemic response 9%
Other needs 24%
12 Nigeria Covid-19 pandemic response 25%
Other needs 43%
13 Somalia Covid-19 pandemic response 31%
Other needs 66%
14 Uganda Covid-19 pandemic response 5%
Other needs 16%
15 Tanzania Covid-19 pandemic response 6%
Other needs 20%
16 CAR Covid-19 pandemic response 47%
Other needs 52%
17 Pakistan Covid-19 pandemic response 50%
Other needs
18 Haiti Covid-19 pandemic response 17%
Other needs 15%
19 Lebanon Covid-19 pandemic response 40%
Other needs 21%
20 Zambia Covid-19 pandemic response 16%
Other needs 12%

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA’s FTS and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data.

Notes: CAR = Central African Republic; DRC = Democratic Republic of the Congo. Countries are ranked by requirements for respective response plans for Covid-19. Data was downloaded on 1 October 2020 and is in current prices.

The Covid-19 pandemic is putting increased strain on already limited funding for humanitarian response. On 1 October 2020, UN appeal requirements that were not related to the Covid-19 pandemic stood at US$30.4 million, with an additional US$10.2 billion required to respond to the pandemic.

Funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response has continued to increase. However, this increase in funding has occurred in the context of escalating needs, which are reflected in the increase in total appeal requirements for the pandemic response: in July 2020, the target for the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) increased from US$7.3 billion to its current target of US10.2 billion. Therefore, the proportion of appeal requirements met remains small.

  • On 1 October 2020, 28% of appeal requirements for the Covid-19 pandemic response had been met. This compares to 35% of appeal requirements for other humanitarian needs.
  • At the end of June 2020, when the total appeal requirements for the pandemic response was lower, 21% of appeal requirements for the Covid-19 pandemic response had been met.

Three countries have seen large increases in their appeal requirements for Covid-19 pandemic response over the period June to October, with funding targets more than doubling.

  • Appeal requirements for the Covid-19 pandemic response increased during the period June to October for Bangladesh by 231% (to US$387 million), for Sudan by 224% (to US$284 million) and for Yemen by 115% (to US$386 million).

Among the 20 countries with the largest requirements for Covid-19 pandemic response on 1 October 2020, only four countries had better coverage for pandemic response requirements than they did for other humanitarian needs.

  • The four countries with a higher proportion of requirements met for Covid-19 pandemic response than for other humanitarian needs were: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (33% of pandemic response requirements met compared to 21% for other needs), Haiti (17% coverage compared to 15%); Lebanon (40% coverage to 21%); and Zambia (16% coverage compared to 12%).
  • Among the 20 countries with the largest requirements for Covid-19 pandemic response, Pakistan had the largest coverage of pandemic response requirements (50%), while Uganda had with the smallest coverage (5%).
  • Among the 20 countries with the largest requirements for Covid-19 pandemic response, only four had received funding fulfilling more than 50% of their other humanitarian appeal requirements: Somalia (66% of other appeal requirements met); Iraq (61%); Central African Republic (52%); and Bangladesh (51%).
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Who are the largest donors of international humanitarian grants for Covid-19 pandemic response?

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Figure 3: Humanitarian grant funding patterns for Covid-19 pandemic response broadly reflect funding for other humanitarian crises

20 largest donors of international humanitarian grants for Covid-19 pandemic response, 1 October 2020

Figure 3: Humanitarian grant funding patterns for Covid-19 pandemic response broadly reflect funding for other humanitarian crises

This stacked bar chart shows the twenty largest donors of international humanitarian grants for the Covid-19 pandemic response ranked by volume of funding and with information on whether this funding is committed or disbursed. Five donors account for just under two thirds of all humanitarian funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response.

Volumes provided in US$ millions
Donor
name
Commitments Disbursements Total funding
US 271 683 953
Germany 562 143 704
Japan 290 363 653
EU institutions 503 41 544
UK 234 192 426
UAE 18 243 260
Saudi Arabia 162 6 168
Denmark 64 40 103
Canada 11 54 66
Switzerland 50 13 63
Kuwait 0 60 60
Australia 31 26 58
Norway 18 31 49
Korea 5 30 35
World Bank 91 78 169
WHO Solidarity Response Fund 103 30 133
CERF 27 97 125
Private donors 3 47 50
AfDB 12 24 36
IsDB 32 0 32

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA's FTS.

Notes: AfDB = African Development Bank; IsDB = Islamic Development Bank; UAE = United Arab Emirates; WHO = World Health Organisation. Data was downloaded on 1 October 2020. The figure includes all international humanitarian assistance on FTS that is reported to be relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic response, both inside and outside of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan. Data is in current prices.

Total humanitarian funding for the Covid-19 pandemic response reported to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA’s) Financial Tracking Service (FTS) had reached US$ 5.3 billion by 1 October 2020.

  • Total humanitarian funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response has doubled since late June 2020, when committed funding was US$2.6 billion. This funding includes resources committed to activities within the UN’s GHRP, as well as funding for humanitarian activities in response to the pandemic outside of this plan.
  • A large proportion of humanitarian funding for the Covid-19 pandemic response has been reported as committed but not yet disbursed. On 1 October 2020, 49% of reported funding had been disbursed. This represents a slight increase in the proportion of funding disbursed compared with late June 2020, when 44% of funding was reported to have been disbursed.

A growing number of donors have committed humanitarian funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response – with the total number of donors increasing from 110 at the end of June 2020 to 154 by 1 October 2020. However, a small number of donors account for the majority of international humanitarian assistance directed to the Covid-19 pandemic response.

  • Five donors – the US, Germany, Japan, the EU and the UK – account for just under two thirds (62%) of all humanitarian funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response.
  • While humanitarian funding is concentrated among a small number of large donors, the funding response is spread more widely than for total international humanitarian assistance for other crises in recent years. In 2019, the three largest donors of international humanitarian assistance (the US, Germany and the UK) accounted for 58% of total assistance, while the three largest donors to the Covid-19 pandemic response (the US, Germany and Japan) accounted for 44% of humanitarian funding for the pandemic response on 1 October 2020.
  • Since the end of June 2020, large increases in funding have been made by the US, growing from US$382 million to US$953 million, and Japan, rising from US$270 million to US$653 million.
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Channels of delivery for international humanitarian assistance to the Covid-19 pandemic response

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Figure 4: By 1 October 2020, multilateral organisations had received two thirds of international humanitarian assistance for Covid-19 pandemic response

Channels of delivery for international humanitarian assistance for Covid-19 pandemic response, 1 October 2020

Figure 4: By 1 October 2020, multilateral organisations had received two thirds of international humanitarian assistance for Covid-19 pandemic response

This treemap chart shows the different types of implementing organisations through which the international humanitarian assistance for the Covid-19 pandemic response was channelled in the first instance. Two thirds of this funding was channelled through multilateral organisations and 12% through NGOs.

Channel
of delivery
International humanitarian
assistance for Covid-19 pandemic response (US$ millions)
UN
agencies and other multilateral organisations
US$3,575
RCRC US$298
Public sector US$456
NGOs and CSOs US$645
Other US$23
Unspecified $297
Total US$5,294

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA’s FTS.

Notes: RCRC = International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The chart shows first-level funding as part of the Covid-19 pandemic response as reported to FTS. Data was downloaded on 1 October 2020 and is in current prices.

As of 1 October 2020, the majority of humanitarian funding reported to UN OCHA’s FTS for response to the Covid-19 pandemic (including assistance to the GHRP and for response outside of the plan) had been channelled through multilateral organisations in the first instance.

  • Two thirds (66%, US$3.5 billion) of the international humanitarian assistance for response to the Covid-19 pandemic was channelled through multilateral organisations. This represents a smaller proportion of total humanitarian funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response than at the end of June, when 73% was directed through multilateral organisations.
  • The majority of funding to multilateral organisations (92%, US$3.2 billion) was received by just five UN agencies. The World Health Organization received 33% (US$1.1 billion) of funding to multilateral organisations, Unicef received 21% (US$745), the World Food Programme received 17% (US$581 million), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees received 16% (US$547 million) and the International Organization for Migration received 5% (US$190 million).

The proportion of total humanitarian funding for response to the Covid-19 pandemic received by NGOs has increased since the end of June.

  • As of 1 October 2020, NGOs had received 12% (US$645 million) of total humanitarian funding to the Covid-19 pandemic response. This compares to just 5% (US$134 million) reported on FTS at the end of June.
  • Of the humanitarian funding for response to the Covid-19 pandemic that was channelled through to the GHRP, almost a fifth (19%, US557 million) was provided directly to NGOs.
  • Outside of the GHRP, however, only a very small proportion of funding (4.0%, US498 million) for responding to the humanitarian need associated with the Covid-19 pandemic had been received directly by NGOs. Multilateral organisations had received 52% (US$1.3 billion) of this funding outside of the GHRP, the public sector received 19% (US$456 million) and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement received 12% (US$285 million).

Notes

  • 2

    This is applicable for grants reported to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA’s) Financial Tracking Service (FTS) with information on its destination location.

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  • 3

    Countries experiencing protracted crisis are defined as those with at least five consecutive years of UN-coordinated humanitarian or refugee response plans as of the year of analysis.

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