In May 2016, 18 donor countries and 16 aid organisations (including UN entities, INGOs and the Red Cross Movement) signed a ‘Grand Bargain’ outlining 51 mutual commitments across ten thematic workstreams – all aimed at improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian aid.
Signatories to the Grand Bargain agreed to undertake an annual independent review of progress made against the commitments. Issued in June 2017, the first annual independent report noted that, on average, signatories reported action against 40% of the commitments, with more focus and progress in some workstreams than others; that the Grand Bargain had a light bureaucratic footprint; and that its design – a unique collaboration between donors, the UN, INGOs and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Secretariat – had strengthened buy-in from stakeholders. The report also highlighted decreasing political momentum and growing frustration at a perceived lack of impact and action at country level.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) on behalf of the Facilitation Group to produce the second annual independent report. ODI was tasked to provide an impartial overview of collective progress made during the period January–December 2017, based on an assessment of actions and activities undertaken by the then 56 signatories. Building on and consistent with the methodology developed for the first annual report, ODI analysed actions taken by signatories and the challenges they faced in moving towards the achievement of all the commitments across all ten workstreams, both in respect of HQ-level actions and actions at country level. ODI also assessed the extent to which gender has been considered by Grand Bargain workstreams. Analysis was based primarily on the 46 self-reports submitted by and interviews with signatories, as well as a review of other available documentation and consultations with external stakeholders.
Key areas of progress
The quantitative and qualitative research collated indicates that there was important progress in 2017 in a number of workstreams, against specific commitments, and some progress in integrating gender as a cross-cutting issue. The majority of signatories reported actions against a broad spread of commitments – on average against 52% of their respective individual commitments. Three of the workstreams made substantive progress overall – workstreams 3 (cash programming), 6 (participation revolution) and 7 (multi-year planning and financing).
Workstream 3 made particularly good progress, including in respect of the joint commitment to increase collaboration, including sharing capacities, knowledge, guidance and standards on cash programming, and through high levels of individual actions: 89% of signatories reported increased routine use of cash (commitment 3.1) for example – the highest rate of reporting against any individual commitment. Overall, this workstream illustrates how the Grand Bargain can bring the three groups of actors together to tackle technical and political differences, and make tangible progress towards more efficient and effective aid responses.
In workstream 7 (multi-year planning and financing), aid organisations have fulfilled their role under commitment 7.2 with the development of multi-year plans in seven countries in 2017. The majority of donors (58%) reported an increase in their provision of multi-year funding, which, together with actions taken by a smaller number of donors to reduce earmarking, reflects important progress towards achieving the systemic shift in humanitarian financing that has long been called for. In workstream 6 (participation revolution), actions taken by signatories against joint commitments indicated good progress, including on improving coordination of and common standards for approaches to community engagement and participation (commitment 6.2).