End the neglect: a study of humanitarian financing for older people

from HelpAge International
Published on 12 May 2016 View Original

Humanitarian aid must overcome its blind spot on ageing, says HelpAge International

HelpAge International is calling for a more targeted humanitarian response for older people in conflicts and emergencies, after finding that less than one percent of recent humanitarian financing goes towards older people.

A new report, which looked at more than 16,000 proposed humanitarian projects between 2010 and 2014, found that only 154 had any activity specifically targeting older people, most of which weren’t funded.

“The findings paint a clear picture of the challenges older people face”, said Marcus Skinner, Humanitarian Policy Manager at HelpAge International. “Of the few humanitarian projects that do target older people, over a third were submitted by HelpAge, showing the sector has a way to go to overcome its blind spot on ageing”.

The report, End the Neglect: a study of humanitarian financing for older people, shows that five UN Consolidated Country Appeals in 2013 and 2014 didn’t include any projects that targeted older people, while only two donors consistently provided funding to projects addressing older people’s needs.

“Last year, with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, 193 countries committed to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’”, said Toby Porter, Chief Executive of HelpAge International. “To make this commitment a reality we need a humanitarian system that doesn’t deliver a ‘one size fits all’ response but one that reacts to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of people affected in different ways, including older people”.

The world’s ageing population means that older people constitute a growing number of those affected by humanitarian crises. In a few years’ time, the number of older people will surpass one billion and adults aged 65 and over will outnumber children under five. Two thirds of the world’s older people live in low and middle income countries where disasters are more likely to occur and the human impact is greater.

“The humanitarian system must substantially improve the way it includes older people in humanitarian responses if it is to call itself principled, impartial and fit for the future,” said Frances Stevenson, Head of the Humanitarian Team at HelpAge International.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations to humanitarian organisations and donors to play their part in delivering change for older people and other vulnerable groups.

Ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit, HelpAge has joined with other leading humanitarian agencies to produce an Inclusion Charter that sets out the core commitments needed to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches the most vulnerable. The Charter calls for funding that is commensurate with the scale of needs and is allocated impartially according to need, recognising the needs of different groups.

The following agencies have signed up to the Inclusion Charter: Plan International, World Vision, The Sphere Project, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, MERCY Malaysia, SOS Children’s Villages, CAFOD, War Child UK, HelpAge International, Center for Community Advancement and Family Empowerment (CECAFE), Ageing with a Smile Initiative and Age International.




Notes to editors:

The report, End the Neglect: a study of humanitarian financing for older people, can be found here


Data from the UN Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) forms the basis of the analysis. The primary data collection tool was the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

The FTS project sheets were analysed to identify projects that included at least one activity specifically targeting older people, and projects that included activities that mentioned older people alongside other vulnerable groups. The FTS captures all information on projects in the appeals; however, reporting on whether a specific project is funded is done on a voluntary basis by the donor, the recipient, or both. It is recognised that donor funding is not limited to the contributions to UN appeals, and hence the study does not provide a full picture. Nevertheless, it is considered a sufficient proxy indicator for the levels of assistance provided to older people.

Recent reforms of humanitarian financing mechanisms and the shift from UN CAP to Strategic Response Plans (SRPs) have impacted on the methodology for this study. Where countries have made the transition from the CAP to the SRP, the original methodology outlined above could not be applied due to the lack of individual project sheets in the SRP process. The phased introduction of the SRPs across the study period means we have been able to undertake a near complete analysis of country responses in 2013 and 2014, and while in 2015 the sample size is reduced,[i] the findings indicate a continuation of the trends found in previous years. For the purposes of this study, the 2015 data are excluded from the analysis due to the limited sample size, and baseline data are taken from the 2010 analysis. A full list of the countries included in the study can be found in Annex 1 of the report. An overview of the main findings is presented in Annex 2.

For further information please contact:

International Media Contacts: Sarah Gillam, Media Relations Manager, in London on Tel: +44 (0) 20 7148 7623. Mobile: + 44 (0) 7713 567 624 Email: sarah.gillam@helpage.org skype: sarah.gillam.hai or

Ed Knight, Media Intern, on Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7148 7606. Email: edward.knight@helpage.org skype: edward.knight.hai

About HelpAge International

HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Our work is strengthened through our global network of like-minded organisations - the only one of its kind in the world.

[i] In 2013, 18 of the 19 appeal documents were analysed; in 2014, 19 of 28 were analysed; and in 2015, 12 of 23 were analysed.