Underfunded Appeals: Understanding the Consequences, Improving the System

Post date Friday, 29 November, 2019 - 13:16

The EBA-report Underfunded Appeals. Understanding the Consequences, Improving the System studies the consequences of funding covering less and less of the stated urgent humanitarian needs worldwide.

In 2017 the estimated number of people needing urgent humanitarian assistance was 201 million, the highest number noted. The UN coordinated appeals required a total of US$ 25,2 billion to fill the needs. This doubled the amount required five years earlier. On average 59 percent of the stated needs received funding, compared to 70 percent a decade ago.

There is a lack of systematic information about the consequences of underfunding. Case studies in Haiti, Somalia and Chad provide some insights. But the overall picture remains unclear. Not even the most basic information – how many people have not been reached by the assistance – is available in any systematic form. Reasons behind this situation have to do with lack of trust and coordination.

Are humanitarian organizations boosting the appeals since they expect to get only part of what is needed? Are donors using other bases for deciding where to put their money? To improve the function of the humanitarian appeals both humanitarian organizations and donors need to reform.


Humanitarian organizations need to improve the reliability of need assessments, make existing funding better traceable and improve monitoring of results.
Donors need to use the appeals much more as a basis for funding, improve coordination between themselves and use flexible funding mechanisms to a much larger extent.


Sophia Swithern is an independent consultant. She has previously served as head of research and analysis at Development Initiatives.

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