Towards a Localised Humanitarian Response in India

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Approximately US$ 25 billion is spent every year to provide life-saving assistance to 125 million people devastated by wars and natural disasters1. Although the current funding level is significantly higher than it was 15 years ago, increase is not in proportion to exponential rise in the scale and frequency of conflicts and natural disasters during that period. A conservative US$ 40 billions required every year to meet humanitarian emergencies is just a fraction of the US$ 78 trillion annual global GDP.

Poor are the most vulnerable to disasters. Going by the current trend, by 2030, 62% of the world’s poor will be living in fragile and conflict prone areas. Choice is clear – either increase humanitarian assistance to meet increasing need or invest in seeking sustainable, risk resilient solutions to conflicts and calamities. Credible and pragmatic frameworks and roadmaps offered by Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Paris Agreement for Climate Change cannot be realized unless a clear, pragmatic and collective political leadership commits to find solutions.

Current Humanitarian Architecture and Financing Mechanism

In the year 2015, International humanitarian assistance went to 145 countries of which, more than half went to five countries – Syria, Yemen, Iraq, South Sudan and Ethiopia2. While the scale and nature of emergencies and underlying political priorities may have warranted larger share of the humanitarian finance to five countries, many other communities across the world were denied of reasonable assistance.

In 2016, while OCED-DAC funding is channelized through intermediary organization, about 46% funding was channelled through multilateral agencies, mainly the 8 UN agencies. Of the remaining portion, more than 85% went through international NGOs, of which more than half went to largest ten recipients; more than a third to the largest five recipients. Southern international NGOs received just 1.65% of the funding available to NGOs and local and national actors received just 1.5% of that part of the funding pie. In 2015, local and national actors received just 0.3%! There is a clear pattern emerging, with powerful and resourceful organizations controlling humanitarian architecture and funding mechanisms while local and national actors who are the first respondents and best placed to extend assistance to affected community languishing for want of means and resources. Grand Bargain was launched to address this particular anomaly and flaw in humanitarian system.