Aid, development must converge in responding to crises – UN reports

Deputy humanitarian chief Kyung-wha Kang (left) visits a camp outside Goma in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Photo: OCHA/Imane Cherif

14 February 2014 – The rising scale of needs, a collective inability to resolve protracted crises, and the interplay of new factors such as climate change, are making it harder for Governments and aid workers to effectively respond to humanitarian challenges, the United Nations today reported, stressing that development aid must contribute to managing crisis risk.

The report, World Humanitarian Data and Trends 2013, authored by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), highlights major trends in the nature of humanitarian crises, the underlying causes and drivers, and the actors that participate in crises prevention, response and recovery.

“Climate change, population growth, rapid and unplanned urbanization, and food and water insecurity are leaving more and more people at risk of crisis,” write the report’s authors, listing some of the new factors facing the humanitarian community.

Among other trends, the report shows that today’s major humanitarian crises are protracted “with few signs of improvements over the long term.”

Of countries that had an inter-agency appeal in 2012, eight had an appeal in eight or more of the previous ten years, including in Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Somalia.

When not protracted, the crises are often recurrent, occurring as a result of shocks – climate, conflict, price – to chronically vulnerable people.

On these factors, the report concludes that humanitarian assistance is still overwhelmingly focused on response and development aid often fails to target the most vulnerable.

“Less than five per cent of humanitarian funding and less than one per cent of development funding is spent on crisis preparedness and prevention,” according to figures provided.

Building on lessons learned in the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa and in Sahel in 2012, the report sums that both humanitarian and development aid must contribute to managing crisis risk.

“It is an effort by OCHA to strengthen the evidence – base for humanitarian assistance in the hope that researchers and policy – makers will have a common baseline to inform their work,” Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang said presenting the report findings to UN Member States.

The report aggregates information from different sources and over time, providing a comprehensive reference point for policy - makers, researchers and humanitarian workers.

OCHA is also working with partners to create a humanitarian community data platform, according to the UN agency.


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