Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2023: Chapter 4
Beyond humanitarian funding: Addressing cycles of crisesDownloads
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Four interactive charts let you explore global levels of crisis, vulnerability and need, the largest donors of international humanitarian assistance and how humanitarian financing is delivered.Explore the data
In long-term, protracted crisis situations, the complex and interrelated risks posed by conflict, socioeconomic fragility and climate change often lead to increased humanitarian need, and make it challenging to recover from crisis and build resilience. Coordinated humanitarian, development, peacebuilding and climate-related finance and programming is essential to help communities weather future shocks.
Yet, examining official development assistance (ODA) shows a reduction in the amount of development assistance received by countries facing long-term crisis. Between 2017 and 2021, the volume and proportion of development assistance received by those countries reduced (by US$0.6 billion; from 50% to 48%), while the volume and proportion of total aid received as humanitarian assistance increased – reaching 41% in 2021, compared to an average of 37% over the past five years, suggesting an increased reliance on humanitarian assistance.
As the accelerating impacts of climate change drive and exacerbate humanitarian crises, the intersection between humanitarian response and initiatives supported by climate finance is becoming increasingly important. The targeting of ODA allocated for climate finance and funding for disaster risk reduction (DRR) can be critical in supporting response, recovery and resilience-building to a crisis, preserving development gains and reducing overall vulnerability to successive humanitarian impacts. As Start Network highlight in their Insight piece, acting early in advance of shocks through anticipatory action like DRR is key.
The overall picture is of small volumes of climate finance and DRR to countries experiencing crisis. People in countries experiencing protracted crisis alongside a high level of climate vulnerability receive a lower proportion of their total ODA as climate finance, less finance from multilateral climate funding mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund, and less per capita multilateral climate finance than others. Since 2003, people in the most climate-vulnerable countries and experiencing protracted crisis have received just over US$1 per person of country-allocable funding from multilateral climate funds, little more than a fifth of the amount received by people in the most climate vulnerable countries not experiencing protracted crisis (US$4.88). In his Insight piece, Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network argues that the UN climate change system has so far been able to provide meaningful support for those most impacted by the climate crisis.
Furthermore, for the first time in four years, following steady rises between 2018 and 2020, the total volume of ODA for the purpose of DRR decreased in 2021 (the latest year for which data is available).
Figure 4.1: HRP countries in protracted crisis increasingly relied on humanitarian assistance in 2021
ODA from DAC members for development, humanitarian (including Covid-19 control) and peace to protracted HRP contexts, 2017–2021
In parallel with humanitarian assistance responding to needs in crisis contexts, development and peace financing are fundamental to addressing the root causes of crises, upholding basic services and building resilience. To ensure complementarity and the appropriate balance of interventions between the three sectors, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Recommendation on the Nexus emphasises a focus on always supporting the prevention of crises, fostering development wherever possible and humanitarian action only when necessary. The number of countries experiencing protracted humanitarian crisis continues to grow (see Figure 1.2, Chapter 1), with 92% of country-allocable humanitarian funding targeted to these countries in 2022 (see Figure 2.4, Chapter 2). Yet, most of these countries have not seen a notable transition from humanitarian to longer-term development assistance. Such a shift could contribute to addressing some of the underlying socioeconomic causes of crises, alongside investments in peacebuilding, as well as addressing the impacts of climate change that increasingly contribute to humanitarian crisis (see ‘What climate finance is reaching countries in crisis?’ later in this chapter). There is a need for better coherence and coordination of these streams of finance, with the intersection of humanitarian assistance and climate finance increasingly important.
Looking at overall ODA, over the past five years countries experiencing protracted humanitarian crisis have seen the volume and proportion of the total ODA they receive as development assistance reduce. Analysis of the balance of financing for humanitarian, development and peace objectives of ODA flows in 2021 across 30 countries with humanitarian response plans (HRPs) that year – of which 21 were experiencing protracted crises – suggests the following trends:
- The share of total country-allocable ODA from DAC donors targeting this group of protracted crisis countries reached a five-year low of 31% in 2021, down from 33% in 2019. This group of countries was therefore more strongly affected by the decline in the share of country-allocable ODA out of total ODA than other countries that receive aid.
- Potentially inconsistent with the DAC Recommendation on the Nexus, protracted crisis countries increasingly relied on humanitarian assistance, receiving a five-year high of 41% of the total funding received from DAC members in 2021 compared to an average of 37% between 2017 and 2021.
- Over the same period, the volume and proportion of development assistance received by countries facing long-term crisis reduced (by US$0.6 billion and from 50% to 48%).
- In most recent data, from 2020 to 2021, development assistance from DAC members to those contexts decreased by US$2.5 billion (from 54% of total ODA received by those countries to 48%), while funding for humanitarian assistance (including Covid-19 control) increased by US$1.6 billion.
- ODA supporting peace objectives reached a five-year low of 11% in 2021, down from 13% in 2019, decreasing from US$3.9 billion to US$3.5 billion.
Despite this recent shift in the balance of aggregate funding to this group of protracted crises, the mix of humanitarian, development and peace funding from DAC members to individual crises has varied significantly over time. In some countries, the drastic changes in the resource mix of international assistance point to insufficient donor coordination, underlining the need for country-specific and evidence-based nexus financing strategies that enable a contextually appropriate implementation of the DAC Recommendation on the Nexus.
- For Afghanistan, the share of development assistance fell from 66% in 2017 to 38% in 2021. This was due to the combination of significantly higher levels of humanitarian funding in 2021 in response to rising needs and a reduction in development funding following sanctions in reaction to the Taliban seizing power. The rapid decline in development assistance for healthcare, for instance, contributed to the collapse of Afghanistan’s aid-dependent health sector.
- The resource mix for international assistance to Iraq also changed leading up to its transition from humanitarian to a longer-term development response. Its HRP closed at the end of 2021 (see ‘Was humanitarian funding sufficient? Appeals, donors and total assistance’, Chapter 1); volumes of humanitarian assistance received declined between 2017 and 2021. However, this was not accompanied by a corresponding increase in development assistance, which was below 2017 levels in 2021. As a result, Iraq received less international assistance overall in 2021 than over the previous four years.
Further analysis is needed to unpack the impact of this increasing reliance of humanitarian assistance in crisis settings. For this, transparent data on the different humanitarian–development–peace funding streams at national and subnational levels is needed. This would help to inform the successful development and implementation of country-specific nexus financing strategies that ensure the correct balance of funding streams for the context.
The following sections unpack this wider picture of ODA funding to countries experiencing crisis and examine finance that can support specific areas of preparation and resilience building for shocks, in particular those related to climate change. They look at the ODA finance allocated for climate change mitigation and adaptation and funding for DRR.
‘Climate finance’ includes a range of public and private, national and international sources targeted at reducing the causes and effects of climate change. The term is most frequently used as shorthand for the US$100 billion annual international commitment in the 2015 Paris Agreement to help the countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts to reduce emissions (mitigation) and respond to accelerating impacts (adaptation). For countries experiencing protracted crisis and those with high vulnerability to climate impacts, international climate finance provides an important resource for lessening the impacts of climate-driven and climate-related crises. See Figure 2.6 in the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2022 for a conceptual diagram explaining climate finance flows.
In the context of growing numbers of countries facing protracted crises and increased exposure to multiple dimensions of risk, the impacts of climate change are driving new crises and exacerbating pre-existing humanitarian needs. Funding requirements linked to extreme weather are as much as eight times higher than they were 20 years ago. Despite increasing numbers of climate-related crises, countries are not receiving enough coordinated finance by any measure to prepare for and alleviate the worst impacts of shocks.
Climate finance provided as ODA comes from bilateral government donors and multilateral climate finance initiatives. There are a number of these dedicated initiatives designed to facilitate the US$100 billion annual commitment and help low-income countries address the challenges of climate change. Current data informing our understanding of climate finance flows is limited and in some cases possibly misleading, however it is evident the US$100 billion target has yet to be met and overall climate finance remains insufficient. Existing finance is usually directed towards high-value mitigation and adaptation projects often focused on infrastructure. The benefit of these projects may not be fully understood for households and communities. Additionally, these projects often have long delays between approvals and disbursements, which means immediate needs may not be addressed.
Innovative and coordinated sources of finance are required to address the growing humanitarian finance gap, as well as to align the international agendas for climate, development and humanitarian action. While the goals of climate finance and humanitarian response overlap in seeking a reduction in the incidence and scale of climate impacts, they have different mechanisms and distinct forms of financing, resulting in poor coordination and significant gaps in coverage.
Reducing the worst impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable people requires recognising where climate objectives can and should align with an understanding of humanitarian need. Climate funders are often considered to be risk averse, requiring a stable infrastructure and secure contexts, but there is evidence to demonstrate that this risk is largely perceived, rather than actual, and can be overcome by strong partnerships with local and national actors.
Additional finance for Loss and Damage (L&D) – meant to avert, minimise and address the adverse and unavoidable effects of climate change – could be one way to help these communities and fill existing gaps in the support they receive. However, this funding should be new and additional, as well as aligned with climate justice (see Harjeet Singh’s Insight piece, later in this chapter). Even with L&D finance, however, climate finance needs to be comprehensively tracked and transparently measured to ensure it is meeting the needs of those most vulnerable to climate impacts.
► Use our interactive chart to reveal vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, volumes of climate finance (ODA) by country, and how specific risk and geographic groups fare.
Figure 4.2: Countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts that also experience protracted crisis have received around US$1 per person from multilateral climate funds between 2003–2022
Multilateral per capita climate finance to countries experiencing protracted crisis and/or high vulnerability climate impacts
Multilateral funds including the Green Climate Fund, which serves as the primary multilateral mechanism for climate finance, have provided very low levels of per capita climate finance since 2003. People in countries experiencing protracted crisis and with a high level of climate vulnerability have received less of this finance than others. Per capita, countries experiencing protracted crisis that are also highly vulnerable to climate change receive less multilateral climate finance than other highly vulnerable countries.
- The share of approved multilateral climate finance disbursed since 2003 in the countries most vulnerable to climate change but not in protracted crisis is just less than half (46%). In those most climate-vulnerable and experiencing protracted crisis, this share drops to 38%.
- Countries least vulnerable to climate change and not experiencing protracted crisis have had one-third (30%) of all multilateral climate finance disbursed since 2003.
Since 2003, the total amount disbursed per capita of multilateral climate finance to all countries is less than US$5.
- Over the last 20 years (since 2003), people in the most climate-vulnerable countries and who are also experiencing protracted crisis have received around US$1 per person of country-allocable funding from multilateral climate funds.
- Conversely, people in the most climate-vulnerable countries not experiencing protracted crisis have received almost five times this amount of country-allocable multilateral climate finance (US$4.88 per person).
Figure 4.3: In the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, climate finance represents a smaller proportion of ODA than the global average
Climate finance to the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts
Between 2018 and 2021, the amount of climate finance overall increased, but it decreased both to countries with high levels of vulnerability to climate impacts and to those experiencing crisis. Determining the sufficiency of climate finance in the context of humanitarian need requires an understanding of globally and nationally determined priorities, including the US$100 billion commitment, alongside a comprehensive picture of vulnerability, affected population size, levels of humanitarian need, and other intersecting streams of finance. Rarely are these factors addressed comprehensively through coordinated targeting of different streams of finance.
Climate finance should be new and additional over other ODA commitments, but the use of the Rio Marker tagging system obscures whether this ‘additionality’ is achieved. Yet, looking at volumes of climate finance in relation to climate vulnerability or protracted crisis context illuminates very little about whether climate finance is sufficiently contributing to a decrease in humanitarian need. There currently exists no climate finance to specifically address accelerating impacts at the household level and volumes continue to fall extremely short of the US$100 billion commitment.
Instead, measuring climate finance as a share of total ODA, especially when compared to global averages, can suggest some relationship between volumes, vulnerability and effective targeting. A share of ODA greater than the average in countries with high levels of vulnerability to climate change might suggest effective targeting, but a more detailed understanding of the projects funded by that climate finance and their ability to alleviate humanitarian need is required. The share of ODA represented by climate finance in countries experiencing protracted crisis and high levels of climate vulnerability is below the global average.
- In 2021, the average share of ODA represented by country-allocable climate finance globally was 4.8% (climate finance was the largest share of ODA in Brazil, at 27.0%). The average share of ODA climate finance represented in countries experiencing protracted crisis was 2.5% (US$1.8 billion), two-fifths the size of the share of ODA climate finance represented in countries not in protracted crisis (6.6%, US$5.9 billion).
- However, in 2021, countries with high vulnerability to climate impacts received even less: the share of ODA this climate finance represented was 2.2% (US$1.1 billion), less than half that of the global average. In general, countries for which the climate finance represented greater than a 10% share of ODA did not have high levels of vulnerability to climate impacts.
- In countries that both were experiencing protracted crisis and had high vulnerability to climate impacts, climate finance represented a 2.1% share of ODA (US$756 million).
- Of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate in 2021, Mali (5.2%), Chad (2.9%) and Niger (3.0%) had the highest share of climate finance as a proportion of total ODA, though volumes of climate finance to these countries varied widely (Mali, US$75 million; Chad, US$20 million; and Niger, US$52 million). Both Mali and Niger were experiencing protracted crisis in 2021.
- The countries most vulnerable to climate are all located in Africa and six of them (Niger, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)) are experiencing protracted crisis. Climate finance varies in both volume and proportion of ODA for these countries but, with the exception of Mali, is significantly less than the global average.
Current adaptation finance is estimated to fall at least 5–10 times short of what is needed to prepare low-income countries for accelerating climate impacts. In both volume and delivery, it is seriously hindered by a global ‘polycrisis’ in many places. The US$100 billion commitment to climate finance covers both mitigation and adaptation as equally important activities. Adaptation finance is particularly critical in helping to reduce the impacts of crisis by preparing communities to withstand the shocks associated with climatic changes, such as through ecosystem-based adaptations or innovative, resilience-building finance mechanisms.
Mitigation projects like energy transitions often account for greater funding but can provide substantial co-benefits when adaptation activities are factored in. An effective mix of this financing should be aligned to nationally determined contributions, which are developed by national governments and oriented around the state of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation efforts, and would consider existing or potential humanitarian needs such as those related to food security, clean water or safe housing.
However, looking only at the volumes of this finance at the national level gives a limited picture of effective mitigation and adaptation, which relies on understanding what is being financed subnationally, in which locations projects are supported, and their purpose – information that is not always available. In addition to the volume of funding available, access to finance and support in the delivery of the technical assistance are also important. Yet local actors often face significant barriers in this regard. This leaves key sectors unsupported, unable to build institutional capacity and ultimately vulnerable to compounding risks and multiple crises.
Aside from a slight trend in the five countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, there was no relationship between country-level vulnerability and the proportions of adaptation and mitigation finance received. On average, countries experiencing protracted crisis do not receive a significantly higher proportion of adaptation or mitigation finance than others.
- In 2021, country-allocable global mitigation finance (US$4.8 billion) was double global adaptation finance (US$2.5 billion). A smaller share of climate finance (US$357 million) was tagged as dual purpose (for both mitigation and adaptation), suggesting some overlap in activities that reduce emissions and respond to accelerating impacts. There may also be some overlap between climate finance and DRR.
- The five countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts received more adaptation than mitigation finance, but this trend is not consistent across other countries or related to risk level.
- With the exception of DRC, countries most vulnerable to climate impacts experiencing protracted crisis receive more adaptation than mitigation finance. DRC had a higher volume of mitigation (US$14 million) than adaptation (US$7.8 million) finance.
Harjeet Singh is a global expert on the issues of climate impacts, migration, and adaptation. He has supported countries across the world on tackling climate change, coordinating emergency response and disaster resilience programmes. He is the Head of Global Political Strategy at Climate Action Network International and serves as Global Director – Engagement and Partnerships at the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. He is a member of the United Nations’ Technical Expert Group on Comprehensive Risk Management under the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Harjeet co-founded Satat Sampada, a social enterprise that promotes sustainable environmental solutions such as organic food and farming in India and beyond.
According to the most recent World Meteorological Organization report, it is near certain that the period between 2023–2027 will be the hottest five-year period recorded. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and coupled with a naturally occurring El Niño event, the annual average near-surface global temperature will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year in the next five. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report from March 2023 showed that while the window of time to avert the worst of the climate crisis is closing, every effort must be made to slash greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 to secure a liveable planet.
For those on the frontlines of the climate crisis, every fraction of a degree of warming means increased vulnerability to extreme events such as heatwaves, storms, floods, wildfires and rising seas. For instance, studies show that the ongoing drought in East Africa, the worst in 40 years, was made 100 times more likely because of climate change. Millions of people have been displaced in the region and are on the brink of famine. Similarly, the unprecedented floods in Pakistan last year, affecting over 30 million people, have left a long-lasting humanitarian crisis with millions still displaced and suffering from disease, poverty and hunger.
This shows the extent to which climate change remains the strongest driver of humanitarian crises, particularly for the poorest countries. These interlocking crises threaten to widen existing inequality, undo many gains made on poverty alleviation and food security, and exacerbate conflict and violence.
It is therefore critical that the humanitarian and climate justice communities work together to understand how best to prevent and address the fallout from climate disasters and ensure assistance reaches those most impacted on time.
In the Paris Agreement, responding to ‘loss and damage’ is considered a ‘third pillar’ of climate action. The recent IPCC reports show that as fossil fuel emissions continue to rise, more and more people will face the hard limits of adaptation and experience devastating climate impacts.
The costs of addressing loss and damage resulting from climate change in developing countries is estimated to range from US$290 billion to US$580 billion by 2030. Despite setting up a Loss and Damage mechanism in 2013, the UN climate change system has so far been unable to help those least responsible for – but most impacted by – the climate crisis.
After 30 years of struggle to demand climate justice, a significant breakthrough was achieved last year to establish a Loss and Damage Fund at the COP27 climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
As I explained to UN OCHA, the Loss and Damage Fund should make a significant and ambitious contribution to combat climate change by focusing exclusively on addressing Loss and Damage, that is helping developing countries in their relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of a climatic event.
It must be established as an operating entity acting as the third pillar of the Financial Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which also serves the Paris Agreement. As both a coordination and financing mechanism, it should be the primary vehicle to coordinate, mobilise and channel new, additional, adequate and predictable financial resources to address Loss and Damage for developing countries and affected communities and people.
The Transitional Committee set up to implement the COP27 decision must complete its mandate of establishing the institutional arrangements, modalities and governance mechanisms for the Fund as well as defining the elements of the new funding arrangements.
Currently the humanitarian system, which is part of the existing funding support for the most vulnerable communities, is overwhelmed due to increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events and the lack of resources that have limited its actions to mostly immediate response, not long-term recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation. It has not been able to respond to slow-onset events such as sea level rise, melting glaciers and increasing pace of desertification, and it does not address non-monetised impacts such as loss of language, culture and biodiversity.
The humanitarian community must join the climate justice community in advocating for an ambitious outcome at COP28 in Dubai this December, which results in a coherent and coordinated response to address the climate-induced loss and damage at the required scale, speed and adequacy while ensuring access and justice to the most vulnerable.
This piece was compiled with the assistance of Dharini Parthasarathy.
Within the increased focus on anticipatory action, international finance for DRR is a critical component in ensuring that development gains are preserved and the impacts from a disaster do not worsen vulnerability or compound existing crises. Recent discussions around the importance of DRR have focused on the increasing impacts of climate change, but DRR responds to a breadth of natural hazards in addition to those that are climate driven. It heavily emphasises disaster protections and government coordination beyond climate adaptations, such as early warning systems, risk mapping and disaster management training. DRR has often been criticised for a focus on sudden and immediate hazards, but finance is also meant to cover slow-onset disasters, such as drought.
International DRR finance is provided by bilateral and multilateral donors, either as grants or loans. There was a significant rise in the volumes of DRR finance between 2018 and 2022 from the 10 largest donors of DRR. This rise accompanied milestones such as the completion of the Midterm Review for the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015–2030) in 2023, the implementation of national and local DRR strategies, and the commitment to L&D finance at the UNFCCC conference in November 2022. While the quantity and quality of finance data has improved (with better reporting against the OECD DAC’s DRR marker), challenges remain to a comprehensive understanding of the impact of finance responding to climate and environmental risk, vulnerability and disaster.
Intersecting UN agendas (Sustainable Development Goals, the UNFCCC Paris Agreement and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Sendai Framework) and tracking of financial flows indicate some overlap and duplication between DRR and climate adaptation finance (see Figure 4.6). A full understanding of disaggregated risk (including by type, severity and extent subnationally), volume of finance and affected population size – information that is not available in all contexts – is critical for determining whether DRR is effective, especially in places experiencing crisis and without the necessary soft and hard infrastructure to implement DRR-related interventions.
Figure 4.4: Increases in funding from many of the top donors did not counterbalance decreases from other large donors of DRR
Largest funders to DRR, 2017–2021
There has been a total of US$13.2 billion in DRR-related finance since reporting against the Sendai Framework began in 2017. For the first time in four years, following steady rises between 2018 and 2020, the total volume of ODA for the purpose of DRR decreased in 2021 (the latest year for which data is available).
- In 2021, the total ODA for the purpose of DRR from all donors decreased by 5% to US$3.0 billion. This fall was the result of substantial decreases in bilateral ODA for the purpose of the DRR from the UK (down 20% to US$281 million) and other donors outside the top 10 (down 30% to US$123 million), alongside a return to 2019 levels of funding from the World Bank (down 45% to US$438 million). Increases in funding from 7 of the 10 largest donors were not overall sufficient to counterbalance these reductions.
- The amount of ODA for the purpose of DRR provided by the UK has decreased by 32% (US$133 million) since 2019. This is consistent with reductions in the UK’s overall ODA expenditure in the same period and is notable in a context where other top 10 donors are increasing their contributions.
- Despite a decrease in funding, the UK remained one of the five largest bilateral donors of ODA for the purpose of DRR in 2021 (US$281 million), alongside Japan (US$758 million), Germany (US$250 million), the US (US$223 million), and France (US$170 million). The single largest year-on-year increase (80%, US$111 million) in 2021 was from Germany.
- From 2016–2021, Japan was the largest donor of ODA for the purpose of DRR, responsible for almost 13% (US$2.0 billion) of total spend during that period and US$290 million more than the second highest donor, the UK. In 2021, Japan was the largest donor and increased its year-on-year funding to DRR by nearly 50%, from US$507 million to US$758 million. Since 2019, Japan has consistently increased the amount of DRR finance it provides, most of which has gone to a handful of historically preferred partners, including Indonesia and Philippines.
- Multilateral donors contributed 31% (US$943 million) of the total ODA for the purpose of DRR in 2021, nearly half of which (46%, US$438 million) was from the World Bank. The Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction found that, while international and development financing institutions are increasing investments in resilience and risk transfer mechanisms, their approach to DRR remains incoherent and disconnected.
In countries with a high debt burden, DRR provided as loans can contribute to cycles of crisis where recipient governments focus on servicing debt, which limits the resources that they have available to support affected populations.
- In 2021, 43% (US$1.3 billion) of the total ODA for the purpose of DRR was provided as loans. This is higher than the share of total ODA provided as loans (28%, US$61.8 billion) and since 2019 has increased 10 percentage points from 33%.
Effective DRR finance can support communities to identify risk and adequately prepare for disaster, lessening the impacts of crisis. In the last six years, large volumes of ODA for the purpose of DRR have gone to countries with high levels of identified risk to natural hazards, without factoring in additional risks such as socioeconomic fragility or the lack of institutional capacity and existing infrastructure, such as Indonesia (US$1.1 billion), Philippines (US$505 million), Bangladesh (US$758 million) and Pakistan (US$628 million).
- In 2021, the top five recipients of ODA for the purpose of DRR were Indonesia (US$623 million), Vietnam (US$142 million), Pakistan (US$109 million), Bangladesh (US$104 million) and Philippines (US$103 million). All five of these countries had a high level of identified risk to natural hazards.
- With the exception of Bangladesh, the countries above experienced increases in the amount of funding they received from 2020 to 2021 (Indonesia, +81%; Vietnam, +22%; Pakistan, +19%; and Philippines, +102%). Bangladesh experienced a 17% decrease in the amount of funding it received over the same period. It is also notably the only country in the top five both at high risk for natural hazards and with a low coping capacity.
Countries with the highest levels of risk to disaster, when risk is determined as a combined measure of risk to natural hazards and low coping capacity, do not consistently receive large volumes of ODA for the purposes of DRR and are unable to completely realise the potential benefits of DRR infrastructure. Therefore measuring risk to natural hazards alone cannot fully illustrate how effective DRR finance targeting is. Over half of these high-risk countries experienced a decrease in the amount they received as DRR finance.
- Of the top 10 countries at the highest risk for disaster, only 3 – Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh – were among the top 10 recipients of ODA for the purpose of DRR in 2021. In addition to the increase experienced by Pakistan and the decrease experienced by Bangladesh (noted above), Somalia experienced a year-on-year increase in its amount of DRR finance (by 43% to US$75 million in 2021).
- A further 6 of the top 10 countries at the highest risk for disaster experienced decreases in the amount of ODA for the purpose of DRR in 2021, the largest of which were: Madagascar (down 87% to US$3.2 million), Haiti (down 38% to US$22 million), Papua New Guinea (down 37% to US$1.6 million) and Myanmar (down 36% to US$9.9 million).
- As with climate finance, the volumes of international DRR finance alone are an insufficient determinant of DRR’s effectiveness. Looking at volumes as a share of ODA alongside levels of risk can offer some indication of targeting but must also factor in donor priorities and the scale and impacts of recent disasters. In regions covering small island developing states (SIDS) DRR represents the largest share of ODA. These regions include the Melanesia region (37% of ODA), the Caribbean region (20% of ODA) and the Micronesia region (12% of ODA). The Melanesia region includes the Solomon Islands, which is one of the top 10 countries at risk for disaster and for which DRR represented 0.8% (US$1.9 million) of ODA, suggesting that regional financing may also offer some indication of effective DRR.
- In 2021, the average share of ODA represented by DRR finance globally was 1.5% (DRR was the largest share of ODA in Indonesia, at 23%). The average share of ODA DRR represented in countries at highest risk for disaster was 0.6% (US$368.7 million).
Figure 4.5: Most DRR funding goes to countries in the Far East Asia or South of the Sahara regions
Country-allocable DRR funding by donor and recipient region, 2021
There is no consistent explanation for the variations in DRR finance, including sudden versus slow-onset disasters, reporting milestones or donor priorities. Volumes of finance can suggest a concentrated response to a certain kind of natural hazard or historically preferred partnerships. Some recipients, specifically those receiving funding from Japan, have experienced large increases in the volumes of DRR for the purpose of ODA since 2018. The result of this is that a third of all DRR finance is concentrated in one region and in just a handful of countries.
- In 2021, countries in the Far East Asia region accounted for a third (US$961 million) of all ODA for the purpose of DRR.
- The top recipients overall of DRR in 2021 included Indonesia (US$623 million), Philippines (US$103 million) and Bangladesh (US$104 million), all at high levels of risk to natural hazards. Japan was responsible for over two-thirds of funding to these countries (81%, 70%, and 91%, respectively).
- Between 2019 and 2021, funding from Japan increased 371% (US$597 million), an amount almost equal to the increases in funding for the same period to Indonesia (+US$585 million), Philippines (+US$32 million) and Bangladesh (+US$13 million).
Figure 4.6: The proportion of DRR finance is greater than that of climate change adaptation finance, in some cases many times over
DRR and CCA funding to countries at the greatest risk of natural hazards and with low coping capacity
DRR can contribute to a country’s capacity to manage the risk of disasters driven or made more severe by climate change. It therefore has a complementary role to climate change adaptation finance, though both their combined volumes and the share of ODA they represent can only serve as a rough proxy for effective targeting and resilience building. A comprehensive picture would require a thorough understanding of the types of projects both forms of finance support in each location, alongside nationally determined priorities, the objectives for relevant global agendas, the size of the impacted populations and a more detailed picture of risks, vulnerabilities and their drivers. As it is for countries that are most vulnerable to climate change (see Figure 4.3), volumes of ODA for the purpose of climate change adaptation are very small in countries with the highest levels of risk to disaster, especially when those volumes are compared to DRR spending. This suggests that two key anticipatory flows meant to make communities more resilient to climate change impacts not only are insufficient but also may not be working in concert to stem the worst of these impacts.
- In 8 of the 10 countries at the highest risk for disaster in 2021, where overall volumes of both ODA for the purpose of DRR and climate change adaptation remain low, the proportion of DRR finance is greater than that of climate change adaptation finance (and in some cases many times over).
- DRR finance in Somalia, which is both at highest risk for disaster and one of the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, is four times greater than climate change adaptation finance (US$75 million versus US$19 million). In Myanmar, DRR finance is 3 times greater (US$9.9 million versus US$3.5 million); in Afghanistan, 6.5 times greater (US$44 million versus US$6.6 million), and in Pakistan, where climate-related floods impacted nearly 33,000 people in 2022, a startling 43 times greater (US$109 million versus US$2.5 million).
In crisis-affected countries, where existing vulnerabilities and risk are exacerbated by accelerating climate impacts, it is crucial to prioritise finance for DRR and climate change adaptation. This funding helps these vulnerable countries to prepare for climate impacts and protect their development progress. By examining the proportion of DRR and climate change adaptation finance compared to overall ODA, we can assess the level of support provided for these activities in countries receiving this assistance. Countries experiencing protracted crisis, regardless of risk to disaster and level of climate vulnerability receive less DRR and climate adaptation finance than other countries.
- ODA for both the purposes of DRR and climate change adaptation makes up a greater share of ODA (4.8%) in countries not experiencing protracted crisis. In protracted crisis countries, ODA for both the purposes of DRR and climate change adaptation accounts for 1.8 % of ODA.
The gap in the average share of ODA suggests unmet need in countries experiencing protracted crisis, which will be more vulnerable to intersecting dimensions of risk and cycles of crisis. Clear financial tracking is imperative to understand whether and how finance is supporting these countries to meet the objectives of both DRR and climate change funding, is new and additional, and is adequately responding to climate change impacts.
- Some DRR and climate change adaptation is reported as both forms of finance. This dual-purpose spending suggests that projects can overlap between global frameworks and that climate impacts require a multisectoral response. Projects that are reported as both DRR and CCA, for example some large infrastructure projects, could require specific and facilitating contexts, which would explain why this overlap is greater in countries not experiencing protracted crisis. However, climate finance should be new and additional to other ODA spend and as such should not overlap with DRR flows. This dual-purpose spending calls into question the true additionality of climate finance. In 2021, an increasing amount (US$922 million, up from US$418 million in 2020) of bilateral ODA was tagged as both DRR- and climate change adaptation-related, and this spending was significantly greater in countries not experiencing protracted crisis (US$882 million compared to US$40 million).
- The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), both UN mechanisms established for environmental and climate spending, provide DRR finance (combined US$70 million in 2021).
DRR finance is part of a suite of options, including climate finance and humanitarian funding, that can support response, recovery and resilience-building to a crisis, preserve development gains, and reduce overall vulnerability to successive impacts. Research suggests that the finance can be transformative when local and national actors are involved and when a clear understanding of disaster risk is mainstreamed at all government levels and across sectors. In fragile and conflict-affected states with low coping capacity, the impacts of a disaster are exacerbated by smaller amounts of ODA for the purpose of DRR, suggesting the benefits of a joined-up approach to global development agendas and sufficient anticipatory action continue to fail to be realised.
Start Network is a membership organisation of 80 local, national and international humanitarian civil society organisations operating across six continents. Its aim is to achieve a locally led humanitarian system that centres communities affected by and at risk of crisis as agents of change, in order to save more lives, uphold dignity and protect people from loss and harm. Start Network contributes to the ambitions of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction by shifting when and how its member organisations, and communities themselves, approach disaster response, wherever possible acting before a crisis happens.
In the case of quick-onset crises (such as cyclones, flood, hurricanes and heatwaves), the window of opportunity to act ahead of an event is only a few days; in more cyclical crises, such as seasonal drought, that window can be as long as six months. Across all of these contexts, it is crucial to combine targeted activities in the specific window of opportunity with the ongoing and the systematic use of DRR mechanisms and operational preparedness to create the enabling environment for anticipatory action to succeed.
This ‘anticipatory’ approach involves three key components: pre-identifying and modelling risks through strong analytics, pre-positioning and pooling of funds, and pre-planning through detailed contingency plans developed by local organisations or governments and involving at-risk communities themselves. Anticipatory actions are triggered when specific risk thresholds are met, such as insufficient rainfall or extreme temperature rise.
Successful anticipatory action relies on investments in multi-hazard early warning systems and in access to risk information by local organisations and governments. Risks need to be fully understood and modelled through the ongoing and systematic collection of data related to the specific risks, vulnerabilities and impacts different hazards may have on the population. Continuous monitoring of hazards needs to be in place to allow the population to be alerted and warned. Early warning public messaging needs to be timely and clear, contain usable information, and reach deep into communities to enable local organisations to act.
Start Network members help to ensure these activities are led by local organisations and informed by local knowledge and expertise by working through its network of hubs, coalitions of local, national and international civil society organisations that share expertise and good practice, drive the design of contingency plans, shape community resilience plans, and support longer-term DRR activities.
Although the evidence base for this approach is emerging, anecdotal evidence suggests that the impact of such an approach is clear. For example, Start Network members in Pakistan, through its Pakistan Hub, developed a specific risk finance system for heatwaves over a period of two years, to improve in-country capacity and prepare local actors to properly manage the risk and intervene ahead of the crisis. The risk system included detailed community-informed contingency plans around heatwaves ahead of the hottest months. When these heat triggers were met in three regions between June and July 2022, Start Network released funds to jump start the hub’s pre-planned activities.
DRR and anticipatory action are essential in the humanitarian sector and play a significant role in mitigating the negative impact of disasters on vulnerable communities experiencing crisis. By taking a proactive approach towards disaster prevention, these tools can help save lives, minimise disaster impact, build resilience, promote sustainable development, and improve the livelihoods of those experiencing crisis. As such, it is essential that the humanitarian sector and governments continue to invest and implement this framework to ensure that vulnerable communities are protected and disasters are mitigated before they occur.
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'Protracted crises’ refer to countries which have had UN-coordinated country response plans or country components of regional response plans for at least five consecutive years in 2022.Return to source text
Available at: https://devinit.org/resources/leaving-no-crisis-behind-assistance-triple-nexus-humanitarian-development-peace-funding/Return to source text
OECD, 2023. DAC Recommendation on the OECD Legal Instruments Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus. Available at: https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/public/doc/643/643.en.pdfReturn to source text
The full analysis findings, produced with support from Saferworld and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, are available at: https://devinit.org/resources/leaving-no-crisis-behind-assistance-triple-nexus-humanitarian-development-peace-funding/Return to source text
This includes ODA for the Covid-19 response, which is separate from the humanitarian sector codes on the OECD DAC, as all of those countries were under the 2020 Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.Return to source text