Funding for national and local humanitarian actors

The figures and visualizations following below are created to support and illustrate some of the key findings in the May, 2015 L2GP Briefing Note on humanitarian funding flows to local and national humanitarian actors. The issue is highly complex and the underlying data is in many ways lacking in coverage, detail and depth. Visual illustrations on the other hand, are about providing overviews and quick understanding and must therefore necessarily simplify matters. The visualizations therefor should be seen in the context of the L2GP briefing note, where the complexities, the weaknesses and possible errors in the underlying data is explained in detail.

Co-published with IRIN, June 2015

By Christian Els with additional writing by Nils Carstensen

1 National and local actor’s share of global humanitarian funding

According to the GHA 2014 Report ‘direct’ funding flows to national and local actors (based in the countries where emergencies unfold) are only known to have received respectively USD 40 million and USD 9 million in 2013 out of an estimated global humanitarian expenditure of USD 22 billion. While these estimates are subject to significant uncertainties as well as annual variations, all available data and research indicate that the very modest size of local and national funding is a persistent feature of global humanitarian funding flows. From 2011 to 2014, national and local actors share of first level funding has actually declined from USD 58 million to just USD 46.6 million. Please see figure 4 below for the difference between ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ funding.

please download also planets1.png

Source: GHA 2014 Report, Development Initiatives coded UN OCHA FTS data, GHA 2015 Report

2 Global humanitarian funding 2000 – 2014

Humanitarian funding from governments, private donations, foundations and organizations increased from around USD two billion in 2000 to more than USD 22 billion in 2014. According to data as reported to the UN, the largest amounts of funding come from individual governments and the EU. The illustration below shows the dramatic increase over the last 14 years with significant peaks in 2005 and 2010 most likely related to donor responses to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004 and the earthquake in Haiti in early 2010.


3 Largest humanitarian donors 2000 – 2014

This figure display the relative size of the largest known donors to humanitarian assistance between 2000 and 2014 as reported to the UN. By moving the slider at the bottom of the figure, it is possible to track changes in the size of the respective donors over time and to investigate one or several years at a time. The fact that not all donors (private and governmental) report systematically to the UN, leaves space for considerable uncertainty in the UN’s reporting on overall humanitarian funding – see also figure 5 below on this.


4 How funding flows through the humanitarian system

Money within the humanitarian system usually flows through several entities before (parts of) it is realized as protection and assistance to the intended ‘end user’ – individuals in need. At the first level (‘direct funding’) most funding flows from an original donor (governmental or private) to UN agencies, international NGOs, UN pooled funds or the Red Cross/Red Crescent system. Only a small fraction of the funding from the original donors is received by national and local NGOs (see Figure 1 and the L2GP briefing paper for more on this). This ‘direct’ funding channel is relatively well documented and a fair amount of information about donors and recipients and the size of this funding flow are available. From these ‘first level recipients’ (primarily international agencies and organisations) some funding is sub-contracted to other international organisations as well as national and local actors in order for them to carry out activities. However, when trying to track this ‘indirect’ funding through second, third or fourth levels of the humanitarian system, comprehensive information are not available. In this figure the blue arrows indicate the relative volume of the specific ‘direct’ funding flow, where as the grey arrows are uniform in size as no reliable global level data is available regarding the actual or relative volume of these ‘indirect’ funding flows.

please download also flow1.png


5 Comparing UN OCHA FTS and GHA data

The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Financial Tracking System (FTS) of UN OCHA provide data on global humanitarian funding flows. The Global Humanitarian Assistance Report (GHA) uses both DAC and OCHA FTS data to provide detailed analysis of various financial aspects of the humanitarian system. GHA supplements DAC and FTS with their own data to calculate the overall global humanitarian response. If not otherwise noted, data for this article comes from FTS. The figure shows how the data reported to FTS is considerably smaller than the overall humanitarian response as reported by the GHA reports.

Source: GHA Report 2014 & 2015, UN OCHA FTS

6 If the humanitarian community were a country…

Figure 6 demonstrates what it looks like, when known funding distributions within the humanitarian community is displayed alongside the income distribution within a range of countries applying the ‘Gini coefficient’. The Gini coefficient is a widely used measure for showing levels of economic inequality with a score ranging from 0 (every person/organization receives the same amount of money) to 100 (one person/organization received everything, all the others nothing). The figure below puts the Gini coefficient of the humanitarian community in perspective with the Gini coefficient of income distribution in a range of counties beginning with the most equal countries to the left and the most un-equals ones to the right. In addition to their humanitarian work many agencies and organisations are also engaged in the debate about global incoming inequalities. For instance, in a 2015 report ‘Having it all and wanting more’ Oxfam warned that "In 2014, the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth, leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet." Looking at figures 7, 8 and 9 below, it is clear that had the ‘humanitarian community’ been a country, it would be considered –by far – the most ‘un-equal’ country on the planet.

Source: UNU-WIDER, calculations based on UN OCHA FTS, see also footnote to figure 1 in L2GP briefing note

7 Big, bigger… a humanitarian pecking order?

Figure 7 shows, in descending order, the 29 humanitarian agencies, governments and institutions, which received the most humanitarian funding in 2013 as reported to OCHA FTS. Comparing to the Oxfam report quoted above, it’s worth noting that just 0,5% of the humanitarian actors registered with OCHA FTS are reported to receive more than 50% of the total known humanitarian funding in 2013. Looking at all the 29 actors captured in figure 7, they together constitute less than 4% of the recipients of humanitarian funding reported to OCHA FTS but between them, they receive more than 85% of the total first level (‘direct’) funding from large institutional donors. Local and national NGOs are not among these 29 actors and would only begin to appear towards the far left side of the figure, if it was more than four times as wide.


8 If the humanitarian community were a country - II

Figure 8 provides another view on the unequal income distribution within the humanitarian community put in the perspective of income distribution in a range of countries. The red line at the very bottom marks the relationship between received funding/income (vertical) and the numbers of organizations (horizontal). It starts with the largest organizations on the right, where for instance just 10% of the organizations receive more than 90% of the funding – literally leaving only 10% of donor funding to be divided among the 90% remaining organizations. The many coloured lines above the line for the humanitarian community show the income distribution of several countries with the more equal ones to the top and more unequal ones to the bottom. The green line running diagonally through the figure indicates what a total equal funding/income distribution would look like.


9 Funding to local and national actors

As detailed in the L2GP Briefing Note on funding to local actors, three large UN agencies and ten large INGOs were asked to provide information on how much of their annual expenditure was sub-contracted to or in other ways shared with national and local humanitarian actors. Figure 9 illustrates data covering UNHCR, UNICEF, the ACT Alliance, Danish Refugee Council and Norwegian Refugee Council (marked in colour). Relevant information was not made available from the international headquarters of the agencies and organisations marked in grey. For further detail on this and the methodology behind it, please refer to the L2GP Briefing Note.

Source: L2GP Briefing Note

10 Funding to local and national actors… find the tiny spots

Figure 10 displays all known first-level recipients of the international humanitarian funding in 2013. The size of the various humanitarian actors is relative to their annual first-level (‘direct’) funding/income. The yellow spots towards the right represent know first-level funding to local and national NGOs. Hovering over a particular rectangle will bring up more detailed data on the particular receiving entity.

Source: Development Initiative coded UN OCHA FTS data, UN OCHA FTS

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