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AID POLICY: Needs, gaps and resilience

lead photo
DAKAR, 23 July 2012 (IRIN) - Global humanitarian needs declined in 2011
but funding shortfalls continued to widen, according to a report
nging-face-of-crisis-3694.html> by the UK-based NGO, Development
Initiatives. And resilience is the new buzzword in aid response as
people across the sector give more thought - but not yet enough action
- to helping vulnerable people better withstand shocks, rather than
waiting until disaster strikes.

The number of people estimated by UN agencies to be in need of aid fell
from 74 million in 2010 to 62 million in 2011 (the figure for 2012 as
of June was 61 million), while financial commitments by governments
slid 9 percent from their $13 billion historic peak in 2010 for the
Haiti and Pakistan disasters.

Although UN Consolidated Appeals (CAPs) shrank by 21 percent in 2011,
they were on average 38 percent underfunded - the largest percentage of
unmet need for a decade. This is "concerning", said Lydia Poole, head
of Global Humanitarian Assistance at Development Initiatives (DI), and
author of the 2012 report. It is difficult to explain this paradox,
said Poole - it could be that these needs are being met outside of the
CAP system, given CAPs represented just $5.5billion of a $17 billion
aid total in 2011.

Large amounts of private funding to NGOs for instance, fall outside of
CAPs and several prominent emergency aid recipients such as Ethiopia,
Colombia, Iraq and Nepal do not always participate in CAP appeals . But
analysing non-CAP emergency aid is still hard to do, given the poor
quality of financial reporting. "What we can see, is that there is more
strain in the system," Poole concluded.

Aid given by the top 10 donors - the United States, Canada, Japan,
Sweden, Germany, Turkey, the UK, Norway, Australia and France -
increased by US$1.2 billion from 2008 to 2010, but donors making the
biggest cuts - Saudi Arabia, the EU institutions, the Netherlands,
Italy, Kuwait, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Thailand and Greece -
collectively reduced their funding by $1 billion.
Widening funding gaps can also be seen in UN non-CAP appeals and
emergency funding requests by the International Committee of the Red
Cross. Aid is down across the board, partly linked to financial woes in
donor states. Official development assistance from the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) fell by 3 percent in 2011,
while humanitarian aid from these donors fell by 2 percent.

The contraction could be worse, said Poole. Over the past decade aid
spend has spiked after big sudden-onset disasters such as the 2004
Indian Ocean Tsunami or the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and then continued
at the higher level. This is still more or less the trend - aid grew by
23 percent in 2010 and has not significantly dropped in 2011.

"Overall, the collective response has proved resilient to the financial
crisis, which is quite surprising.We can take heart from this," Poole
told IRIN. But the future is uncertain as more donors announce cuts in
official development assistance (ODA). "There has been a lag between
the financial crisis hitting and then manifesting itself in austerity
measures that affect aid budgets. We are just starting to see some of
the effects of that filtering through," Poole warned.

Fair distribution?

Conflict-affected states received the overwhelming majority of
international assistance in 2011. Humanitarian assistance is usually
spent in the same countries for many years, an indication that the root
causes of vulnerability are not being tackled.

The top 10 aid recipients have not changed much in the past decade -
the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Sudan and Afghanistan are the top
three - but distribution has become more concentrated, with the top
three getting 49 percent of all humanitarian funding in 2010, according
to the report.

Best and worst
In 2011 Somalia was best-funded - 89 percent of needs met - though the
response arrived late; Libya's flash appeal was 82 percent funded.
Floods in Nicaragua were worst-funded - just 30 percent.
It is difficult to gauge whether or not this is fair, said Poole. "There
is still no comprehensive and
comparative means of assessing and measuring [humanitarian] need."

Measuring the extent to which CAPs are funded gives some indication, as
they are now based on more accurate vulnerability data, but it is still
a relatively blunt tool, and doesn't take into account significant
non-CAP sources such as private funding - for instance, NGO M


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