Humanitarian Aid Struggling to Meet Needs of Global Humanitarian Crises

Red Cross Shelter Australia floodingThe 2018 World Disasters Report released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) paints a bleak picture of the state of global humanitarian aid. This report describes a humanitarian sector ill-equipped to meet the needs of all people living in crisis globally. In 2017,  humanitarian assistance supported less than half of people in need.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in October of 2015, pledged to “end poverty and hunger everywhere” by 2030, and claimed “no one will be left behind”. However, this IFRC report expresses concern for the millions that are and will be left behind by increasing humanitarian need.

[H]umanitarian funding has been increasingly outpaced by need for well over a decade. But now, as the volumes of known international humanitarian assistance have reached record levels, so have the demands made on it. The data suggests that while aid levels may be reaching their peak, the level of need has not yet reached its peak.

The report notes five distinct reasons why many in crisis are “left behind”:

  • They lack proof of identity;
  • Can’t be reached for geographical, political, or security reasons;
  • Unintentional exclusion or lack of access—primarily affects elderly and disabled;
  • Lack of funding to humanitarian sector;
  • Beyond scope of aid—many fall through the cracks of traditional humanitarian aid.

The IFRC provides six fundamental recommendations for addressing these issues in the humanitarian sector:

  1. Prioritize the people who are hardest to reach and incentivize assistance to these groups;
  2. Support local humanitarian organizations to foster long-term capacity;
  3. Adopt a community-centered approach that integrates local knowledge and feedback to prevent marginalization of groups;
  4. Promote resilience, capacity, and preparedness in communities particularly vulnerable to crises;
  5. Improve data acquisition and use to improve outreach to vulnerable communities;
  6. Identify and prioritize all sectors in need and address critical areas first.

The humanitarian sector must improve its standards of operation if global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be met in the coming decades. Protracted crises, climate change, urbanization, population growth, and disease will contribute toward greater difficulty in meeting the global humanitarian crisis. This must be met with a concerted effort to reform the aid sector in order to finally truly meet the goal of leaving no one behind.

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