In 2019, an estimated 132 million people globally will require humanitarian assistance, the UN-led humanitarian assistance and its partners aim to assist the most vulnerable 93.6 million with food, healthcare shelter, emergency education and other basic lifesaving assistance. The funding amount required to meet this need is US21.9 billon, it is expected that with the addition of the budget for the Syrian response, the total for 2019 will come close, if not more, than the 2018 budget of an estimated US25 billion.
Every year, the global humanitarian budget keeps mounting. In 2017 US$ 27.3 billion was needed for humanitarian assistance, an increase of almost 1 billion from 2016. Since 2013, humanitarian funding has increased by an average of US1 billion each year. Most of these protracted needs are as a result of lack of investment in early recovery, recovery and durable solutions. When recovery does not happen, the result is a protracted humanitarian needs, and increasingly the humanitarian sector is bearing the burden of these recovery and development gaps.
In addition to the increase in budget, the average length of humanitarian needs has increased from an average length of 5.2 years in 2014 to over nine years, and many of these protracted cases are in Africa. 14 of the 21 countries that will be appealing for humanitarian aid in 2019 are from Africa and many of these countries have been appealing for humanitarian aid every year for over a decade. Protracted crises carry much of the funding. Between 2014 – 2018, four cases/countries accounted for 55 per cent of all funding requested and received, and 3 of these cases/countries were from Africa.
More than a humanitarian crisis, many African countries are besieged by `recovery crises’. Many countries in Africa slide into humanitarian appeals and become dependent on it. Humanitarian action is now being deplored to countries as way of addressing gaps in recovery.
Vulnerable and disaster affected communities are increasingly dependent on life-saving kinds of humanitarian assistance even when that is the not most sustainable support because of lack of investment and support for recovery.
As humanitarian actors, it is not enough to announce the increases of humanitarian needs every year, without some form of reflection on why we have these increases.
According to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Global Cluster on Early Recovery: “During and immediately after a crisis, urgent action is required to save lives. At the same time, from the start of humanitarian response, time critical interventions which lay the foundations for sustainable recovery and a speedy return to longer term development are also imperative.” The IASC, a forum of key UN and non-humanitarian partners is the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance.
Early recovery according to the IASC is a vital element of an effective humanitarian response. “It is integrated inclusive and coordinated approach to gradually turn the dividend of humanitarian action into sustainable crisis recovery, resilience building and development opportunities.” Investment in Early Recovery (ER) leverages the impact of humanitarian assistance as well as facilitating the connection and linkage to development opportunities, through resilience building.
Countries that have appealed and dependent on humanitarian assistance for more than a decade should engage and undertake an internal review of why and/if recovery is not taking place. The question that we must ask in such context is “who is recovering and who is not and why.?”
The provision of humanitarian assistance without a clear strategy and plan for facilitating and assisting the recovery of affected communities exit perpetuates humanitarian dependency. In recognition of this, the IASC Principals re-committed to prioritizing the integrating Early Recovery in humanitarian response as well as sharpening the accountability of humanitarian partners to mainstreaming Early Recovery into the entire humanitarian response and for Early Recovery results.