Global humanitarian assistance report 2019

International cooperation Foreign aid Humanitarian assistance

The Global Humanitarian Assistance report is produced by Development Initiatives, and uses the latest data to provide the most comprehensive report to independently assess international financing at work in humanitarian situations.

While continuing to be the biggest donors, the US reduced its spending by US$423 million (-6 per cent), Germany by US$367 million (-11 per cent), and the UK by US$271 million (-11 per cent) last year. This is despite record amounts being requested by the United Nations to deal with unprecedented need. The overall amount of humanitarian assistance globally did, however, slightly increase due to a leap in spending from the UAE and Saudi Arabia by US$1.7 billion and US$806 million respectively – far higher than their usual contributions. Resources beyond international humanitarian assistance are also vital for dealing with crisis, and there are worrying statistics on this highlighted in the report. International inflows and domestic resources are considerably lower per person in crisis-affected countries than other developing countries (40 per cent and 72 per cent lower respectively).

There are, however, some positive trends in the way financing is delivered.

Cash and voucher programmes – which can give people choice and control over the funds intended to help them – grew by 10 per cent from 2017 to a record US$4.7 billion in 2018. Multi-year funding, critical for responders to manage the ongoing impact of crisis is also growing. Key donors were found to have increased this longer-term funding considerably over the last few years so that it now comprises over a third of their humanitarian contributions.

Other key facts and data from the report:

  • Total international humanitarian financing has virtually plateaued at US$28.9 billion despite record levels of need. This is reflected in unprecedented shortfalls in funding requested by the UNcoordinated appeals, despite more funding being given than ever before.
  • Commercial and concessional lending to crisis-affected countries has risen substantially over the last decade, and disproportionately compared to other developing countries. We see an 18-fold increase in loans to crisis countries in the last decade from US$1.7billion in 2008 to US$30 billion in 2017. This compares with growth to other developing countries in the same period of just 129%, albeit from a much higher starting point of US$550 billion in 2008 to US$1.3 trillion in 2017.
  • ODA loans to crisis countries have increased at ten times the pace than to other developing countries between 2012 and 2017.
  • While many crisis countries received little or no ODA loans, of those that did, 58% of lending in 2017 went to those deemed at moderate or high risk of debt distress. This is far higher than other developing countries with the same debt distress risk, which stands at 22% of ODA loans.
  • The ODA loans that crisis countries received were less concessional than for other developing countries. The grant element (i.e. how concessional they were) for those crisis countries with moderate or high risk of debt distress averaged 58% in 2017, compared with 71% for other developing countries with the same debt risk assessment.
  • 11 key donors (Grand Bargain signatories) were assessed to bring unique data on multi-year giving and assess trends in this area. Multiyear spending grew from US$2.7 billion in 2016 to US4.8 billion in 2018, an increase of 75%, to comprise just over a third (37%) of all humanitarian funding from these donors last year.
  • Low-income countries hosted a markedly increased share of the total displaced population in 2018, rising from 22% in 2017 to 39%. This was primarily due to Syria and Yemen becoming low income countries.
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