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In May 2016, the World Humanitarian Summit reflected on the shifting nature of crises and the need for new ways of funding and delivering humanitarian assistance. WHS required donors to answer new questions on what to fund, how to choose the most relevant partners, and, overall, how to better finance humanitarian operations. Under the OECD’s mandate to monitor the effectiveness of aid and to promote peer learning, we support our members to deliver on the commitments they made at the Summit, especially the commitments around better humanitarian financing. As part of this work, the Commitments into Action series and this website were developed to provide practical guidance for OECD Development Assistance Committee members and other humanitarian donors, helping them translate their humanitarian policy commitments into quality results in the field.

For further information please contact : cyprien.fabre@oecd.org

 

Localising the aid

 

Often local actors who are integrated within their communities are the first to respond when a disaster occurs. These local actors can include government disaster management agencies, the national Red Cross-Red Crescent National Society local branches, national or local NGOs that were already undertaking development activities, as well as churches and other civil society groups who can rapidly mobilise their own resources. However, in particular in conflict settings, the international humanitarian system was built by and for the multilateral organisations or international NGOs. The complexity of modern crises calls for a review of this approach. Policy commitments are clear : Local actors are an integral part of the humanitarian ecosystem, not just the end of a subcontracting chain, and this should be reflected in the funding architecture. For donors, this is often easier said than done. However, while there are many obstacles, this direct localised funding is possible for humanitarian donors to do. This guideline will address some of the prerequisites and risks associated to funding national actors, as well as outline some concrete possibilities for giving national actors a place of their own in the humanitarian architecture.

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Urban crisis

 

As the world's population becomes more urban, with growth particularly rapid in developing countries, cities have also become the epicentre of crisis.  Cities are targeted by armed groups as centres of power and economic wealth. Cities also attract persons displaced by a conflict, or ruined by a disaster or depleted livelihood. Increasingly, humanitarian needs must be tailored to these areas. Cities, towns and other urban areas bring very specific challenges to humanitarian actors that donors need to be aware of when supporting their partners in this context. At the same time, urban environments also bring opportunities that donors should  seize, notably the ability to link humanitarian aid and development co-operation. This guideline will walk you through some of those challenges while also emphasising the concrete possibilities that humanitarian response can entail in urban context.

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Increased efficiency

 

The Grand Bargain is the latest major policy document aiming to improve efficiency in humanitarian aid.  But what does it mean for  donors? How can donor's humanitarian budgets translate into a humanitarian response that addresses affected people's needs and with the best value for money?  How can donors ensure and measure the positive effect that a humanitarian operation has on people's lives ? This guideline provides a response.

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Multi-year funding

multi year funding‌ 

At the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, many humanitarian donors commited to shift from annual to multi-year humanitarian funding. However, delivering on this commitment is not easy, and the majority of donors still have funding cycles of 12–18 months. This means donors are responding to long-term humanitarian needs with short-term funding, thereby keeping the focus on meeting immediate humanitarian needs. However, short-term finance can increase costs, decrease efficiency, and pose challenges to creating links between humanitarian action and development programming. This guidance note provides donors with some tools to help them implement multi-year humanitarian funding. It highlights the range of benefits that a shift from annual to multi-year funding can bring, as well as outlining some of the risks and ideas for how to manage them.

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Strengthening humanitarian-development coherence

 

In today's complex crises, the line between humanitarian issues and development issues has become more and more blurred. Linking humanitarian aid and development co-operation has been a field of research for decades and is a constant policy priority for donors, but aligning coherently humanitarian aid and other development co-operation programming remains easier said than done. This guideline will adress some of the very concrete ways to bring both instruments together coherently, and will propose some of the latest reports on the issues.

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Cash-based programming

 

The idea of using cash in humanitarian response is not new. There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating its many benefits as a transformative tool in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable. What is new, notably after the Grand Bargain, is the policy momentum for using cash as a primary option in responding humanitarian needs. In certain contexts, providing cash to people in need is a better way to respond to humanitarian needs, particularly in urban areas or crisis zones in middle-income countries, where markets and the economy are functioning. Unlike in rural areas or in lower-income countries, necessary goods and services are already available and possible to purchase in these areas when afflicted people receive cash assistance. Cash is not obviously a cheaper modality than in-kind response, but it provides dignified assistance, and therefore can be the basis for linking financial integration and social safety nets. Massive cash projects have already been mobilised by donors in the Middle East, putting the Grand Bargain commitments into motion. In short, providing affected people with cash is generally a good thing. But not always. As a donor, you should look at a several issues before engaging in this manner. Have a look at our guideline and some of the other donor policies in that field. 

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Crises in middle-income countries

 

Humanitarian crises increasingly occur in middle income countries. Those countries typically have large urban populations that are more connected, have more educated populations, offer basic public services and communications that function relatively well. However they are still vulnerable to direct and indirect effects of political conflict, natural disaster or other crises. The traditional humanitarian system was essentially designed for rural settings, and some of the perception about humanitarian needs and response are still affected by this bias. Crises in middle-income countries are changing the way humanitarian aid is conceived and delivered, and donors should be aware of the challenges as well as the potential that this entails. 

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Financing Preparedness

 

Financing preparedness is more than prepositioning stocks or supporting training. It is also about financing disaster risk so that money is already there when the shock hits. One of the most innovative ways to finance preparedness is to outsource the cost of risk to the private sector and financial markets. While risk facilities are now gaining traction, there are also other relatively new smaller scheme instruments, such as insurance and safety nets, that help governments to finance their preventive action and their risks in disaster prone areas. What is a donor's role in that context? Is it a humanitarian issue? This guideline gives a panoramic view of what preparedness tools are available and provides some insight on how to engage into such scheme, at the intersection of disaster risk reduction, humanitarian aid and global finance.

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A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE FIELD: Does all this makes better lives for people affected by crisis ?

The OECD supports its members in delivering a better humanitarian aid. But what makes humanitarian aid better? The OECD wants to assess whether the DAC donors’ commitments and the changes to the way in which humanitarian funding is mobilised are having a tangible impact on the people they're intended for: those affected by crisis. 'Better' humanitarian aid must mean better assistance for those in need, not just a better system for the donors. With this in mind, we’re partnering with Ground Truth Solutions an organisation that specialises in getting feedback from affected populations in crisis contexts, to interview aid beneficiaries and frontline humanitarian workers in different crisis situations around the globe.

 

Surveys of affected people and field staff – Afghanistan, Haiti and Lebanon.

Surveys of local partner organisations providing humanitarian aid – Afghanistan, Haiti, Lebanon.

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