Humanitarian response is complex and varied and not without its confusion. It involves a plethora of actors, international and national, large and small, organisations with complex global mandates and organisations that serve a community or a neighbourhood. There are actions undertaken by militaries and governments and those by families and individuals. There is preparedness for events, immediate response to them, the provision of basic needs and the first elements of recovery. There is also a continual blurring of lines between humanitarian aid, investments in disaster preparedness, recovery programming, and long-term development spending.
This myriad of interconnections is essentially what we attempt to track: the response to need, the provision of finance, the actors involved, the funding mechanisms used, and the countries and projects prioritised. A single dollar can actually be spent more than once with every choice made regarding the progress of that dollar through to a final recipient empowers one actor over another, and affects what is finally delivered and to whom.
Why do we do it?
We do this because no one else does! Humanitarian crises are messy and complicated – and so is the reporting. This messiness makes even the most basic of questions – like ‘how much humanitarian assistance is there’ – difficult to answer:
- everyone has a different definition as to what ‘humanitarian aid’ means
- there are thousands of people involved in humanitarian response – everyone accounts for their expenditure in different ways, some people don’t account for it at all and others’ efforts simply aren’t included
- there is no single, comprehensive source of information and data
What’s our agenda?
The GHA programme works to provide objective, independent, rigorous data and analysis around humanitarian financing and related aid flows and has developed detailed and robust methodologies for calculating the true value of humanitarian assistance that underpins all of our work. We want to enable access to a shared evidence base on resources to meet the needs of people living in humanitarian crises, because we believe that decisions should be informed by evidence and that reliable information is fundamental to accountability and to improving performance.
How do we do it?
Our annual GHA reports, which we have published since 2000, provide the most comprehensive assessment of the international financing response to humanitarian crises, including how much the total response was, where the financing came from, where it went and how it got there. The reports also consider how the financing response measures up to humanitarian needs. The GHA Report is relied on by a wide range of donors to inform their funding strategies and by civil society organisations for their advocacy and policy work in holding donors to account against their commitments, and more broadly by a wide range of stakeholders to understand the major global trends influence global humanitarian needs and the international financing response.
Our other majo information products include donor and recipient country humanitarian aid profiles and a variety of thematic reports, blogs and articles. Our research of private humanitarian donorship may be of particular interest to you and I hope we may be able to speak with you in more detail about your own experience in the field as we prepare our next annual report on private humanitarian contributions.
We also have an ‘interactive guide’ to humanitarian aid financing which maps out and describes the possible routes and mechanisms through which funds can be channelled. All of our core datasets and methodologies are also available through the website.
In addition to generating an evidence-base on financing investments in situations of humanitarian crisis, we also try to help people to interpret this information, in a variety of practical ways. We have a helpdesk function where anyone can email us or call us with data queries and we’ll aim to respond within 72 hours providing data, analysis and explaining some of the caveats and limitations of the data. We also travel around the world on request providing tailored presentations on global humanitarian aid financing trends and practical workshops on how to use aid statistics for research and analysis.