The Global Humanitarian Overview of 2018 is ambitious. It sets out a plan to address the needs of 91 million of these people in 26 countries – at the price of USD 22.5 billion.
Although humanitarian agencies are becoming more efficient when delivering aid, this is the highest ever consolidated humanitarian appeal. It surpasses last year’s appeal by USD 300 million, partly because of the increased operational costs in highly volatile and insecure environments.
“The surge in needs necessitating this humanitarian appeal should serve as a wake-up call to governments,” says James Munn, director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Geneva.
“We have seen no limit to indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and we have seen people die of human-made famines this year. This humanitarian appeal shows that in 2018, world leaders will have to decisively step up their efforts to prevent the human cost of both conflicts and disasters.”
NRC attended the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview 2018, presented by Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator and head of OCHA. A panel discussion followed featuring Lowcock, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, and Mohamed Beavogui, Director-General of African Risk Capacity.
Why the ask is so high
The humanitarian forecast for 2018 is grim. Conflict will continue to be the main driver of humanitarian emergencies but disasters are also expected to be a major cause, especially because of an increased risk of earthquakes.
Needs are expected to go up across northern Africa and the Great Lakes region. Our colleagues working in these countries report terrible conditions. In drought-stricken Somalia, camps are overfilled with people barely surviving in flimsy shelters. In the Central African Republic, a surge in violence and brutal attacks on civilians during the last year has forced an increasing number of people to flee their homes.
The situation will remain dire in Nigeria, South Sudan, the Syria region and Yemen – the world’s most severe humanitarian crisis, which is rapidly growing darker.
“The violence will bring a whole nation to its knees,” an NRC colleague in Yemen recently said. “In just a few days, facilities have been closed and medical personnel have been forced to flee for safety, leaving the sick and injured even more vulnerable.”
The role of aid agencies
The Global Humanitarian Overview of 2018 is ambitious, but it’s still not enough. This plan would reach just three out of five people who need help worldwide. With humanitarian needs ever on the rise and a large funding gap growing, agencies must be even more efficient in 2018.
Efficiency is key. The panellists underlined that in 2018, humanitarian agencies must live up to the commitments made in the Grand Bargain – an agreement between major donors, UN agencies and some NGOs aiming to respond better to people’s needs by improving the way we work together and increase efficiency in humanitarian financing.
“The faster the response is, the better it is and the less expensive it is,” the Emergency Relief Coordinator said. "We can do this, for instance, by leveraging insurance mechanisms to secure timely funding for humanitarian crises."
Acknowledging the urgency of working with local actors in crisis, OCHA announced that the Country Based Pooled Funds will be enlarged in 2018, as will the Central Emergency Response Fund. This will bring more immediate funding for life-saving humanitarian action in emergencies and for underfunded crises.
Munn, as the head of NRC’s Geneva office, reminded humanitarian actors and donors of their shared commitments within the Grand Bargain agreement: “As humanitarians, it is our job to assist and protect people in need, but we need governments to help us – not only by providing sufficient funding, but by working together to improve efficiency.”
- Geneva is a centre of global policy processes and decisions that impact humanitarian operations. To influence these global processes and make sure decision-makers take our operational experiences into account, NRC engages with governments through their Permanent Missions in Geneva, UN bodies ICRC, NGOs and NGO consortia.
- One of the most important policy processes of 2017 is the Global Compact on Refugees. This agreement, to be adopted in 2018, aims to improve displacement aid and refugee protection. Since it could result in a turning point in international refugee protection, NRC hopes to influence the process by engaging with governments, providing them evidence from humanitarian operations to show the priorities of displaced people.
- NRC co-leads workflows of the Grand Bargain, an agreement between major donors, UN agencies and NGOs to better respond to humanitarian needs by improving the way we work together and increasing efficiency in humanitarian financing. Signatories have committed to change their working practices in ten key areas. NRC holds a leading role on several commitments – namely, increasing collaborative humanitarian multi-year planning and funding, and reducing duplication and management costs.