The HRI 2009 report reveals gaps in the effectiveness of humanitarian aid as economic crisis bites

Almost half of the world’s main donor governments are not doing enough to ensure that public funding for humanitarian assistance is reaching those most in need, when they need it most, according to DARA’s 2009 Humanitarian Response Index (HRI), launched in Washington DC on 10 November.

DARA has held two events to present the HRI 2009 findings: a press conference at Washington’s National Press Club followed by a special presentation at The Brookings Institution.

Now in its third year, the HRI ranks 23 of the wealthiest donors (OECD/ DAC members) by analysing their performance against the Principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) that they themselves have signed up to.

Key 2009 findings include:

  • Norway replaces Sweden at the top of the rankings
  • The US, the world’s largest donor, gains a place but still ranks only 14th
  • Canada and the UK slide to 13th and 9th place respectively
Donor HRI 2007 HRI 2008 HRI 2009
Norway 2 2 1
Sweden 1 1 2
Ireland 6 4 3
Denmark 3 3 4
European Commission 5 5 5
Netherlands 4 6 6
Luxembourg 12 7 7
Switzerland 10 9 8
United Kingdom 9 8 9
Australia 14 11 10
New Zealand 8 13 11
Finland 11 12 12
Canada 7 10 13
United States 16 15 14
Spain 17 16 15
Germany 13 17 16
Belgium 15 14 17
Austria 20 21 18
Japan 18 18 19
France 19 20 20
Italy 22 19 21
Greece 23 23 22
Portugal 21 22 23

Endorsed by Kofi Annan, Jeffrey Sachs and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the HRI is the only independent initiative that measures how well governments support humanitarian action around the world. For the HRI 2009, DARA visited 13 humanitarian crises around the world including Afghanistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Myanmar and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The report includes analysis of the performance of each donor country based on quantitative data, and on field research carried out in the aforementioned crises.

This year’s HRI report shows that the global economic crisis, along with the increasing frequency and severity of disasters and ongoing crises, are having a serious effect on the ability of humanitarian organisations to respond effectively to needs. Donor governments can do much more to focus and prioritise their aid budgets to have a greater impact.

Presenting the findings at the National Press Club, Silvia Hidalgo, DARA Executive Director and co-founder said:
“Given the global economic crisis, more effective use of public money and greater quality and impact in humanitarian aid has never been more important. In places like Pakistan, Sudan, or Somalia, countless human lives could be saved and suffering avoided if government donors applied basic good practice in the way they fund and support humanitarian organisations”.

Overall, the HRI 2009 also highlights some serious gaps in how the international community deals with crises:

  • Access to crisis-affected and at-risk populations is increasingly under threat and insecurity for both humanitarian workers and affected populations is at record levels.
  • Inadequate crisis prevention and preparedness measures are failing to cope with a marked upsurge in disasters and conflicts.
  • Insufficient efforts are being made to strengthen the capacity of local and international humanitarian organisations.

The HRI 2009 report calls for donor governments to develop guidelines on how to best facilitate access and to significantly boost funding to support a more harmonised approach to conflict and disaster prevention and risk-reduction efforts.

Huge expectation for the HRI 2009 findings at Brookings

The HRI 2009 findings presentation at the Brookings Institute took place in a very packed Murray Room. Various representatives of the most important NGO’s, government agencies and World Bank members assisted the highly awaited presentation of this year’s report.

The event was opened with introductory remarks by Strobe Talbott, President of Brookings. HRI findings were presented by Silvia Hidalgo and Philip Tamminga of DARA. The event also featured a debate by an expert panel made up of Jose María Figueres, Former President of Costa Rica; Ross Mountain, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the DRC; and Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow, Brookings-BernProject on Internal Displacement, who has contributed an article in this year’s edition of the HRI.

Introduction video of the HRI 2009

Humanitarian crises threaten the lives and livelihoods of over 250 million people every year. Increased threat of “natural” disasters and conflict, coupled with the compounded effects of climate change, global financial turmoil and limited access means that more and more people need assistance now and in the coming years.

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The HRI was created in 2006 by DARA and is a commitment made at The Clinton Global Initiative. It aims to ensure that resources and funds are used as efficiently and effectively as possible to meet the needs of the millions of people affected by crises. The HRI is a collective effort that relies on the input of 450 representatives from 250 humanitarian agencies.

Click here to view the HRI 2009 launch press conference photos
Click here to view the HRI 2009 presentation at Brookings photos

The HRI 2009 will be launched in Madrid, Spain on December 3rd. More information will added shortly.

Related Pages
Order your copy of the 2009 Humanitarian Response Index here
See how each individual donor has performed

For Media
Read the full News Release
See the Overview Facts and Figures sheet