World Humanitarian Data and Trends

2411-8419 (online)
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The World Humanitarian Data and Trends is an annual flagship report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) that presents global and country-level data and trend analysis about humanitarian crises and assistance. Its purpose is to consolidate this information and present it in an accessible way, providing policy-makers, researchers and humanitarian practitioners with an evidence base to support humanitarian policy decisions and provide context for operational decisions.
World Humanitarian Data and Trends 2015

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29 Feb 2016
9789210576758 (PDF)

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This publication highlights major trends in the nature of humanitarian crises, their causes and drivers, and participation in crisis prevention, response and recovery. Beyond providing statistics, the trend analysis shows how the humanitarian landscape is evolving and how the humanitarian system can be more effective in a rapidly changing world. Data used in the report comes from a variety of sourcess. Highlights for 2015 include case studies on long-term trend analysis of the humanitarian context in terms of conflicts and natural disasters, the humanitarian footprint in the Middle East, coordination of online volunteers during the Ebola response and the anatomy of cycles of displacement.
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  • Introduction
    World Humanitarian Data and Trends presents globaland country-level data-and-trend analysis about humanitarian crises and assistance. Its purpose is to consolidate this information and present it in an accessible way, providing policymakers, researchers and humanitarian practitioners with an evidence base to support humanitarian policy decisions and provide context for operational decisions.
  • Highlights
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The year in review – 2014

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    • Humanitarian assistance in 2014 - Overall funding, capacity and reporting
      In 2014, overall needs and requirements increased, putting even more strain on responders. Notwithstanding current crises, 2014 was a record year on many fronts: funding requirements ($18 billion), overall contributions ($24.5 billion), people targeted (76 million) and a 40 per cent funding gap. The size of the humanitarian community continued to expand: the number of jobs advertised through Relief Web and the number of hiring organizations increased by over 3,000 each. There was, however, a slight decrease in the number of organizations participating in inter-agency appeals. On a positive note, the number of incidents affecting aid workers decreased, potentially due to investments in security management.
    • Humanitarian needs: inter-agency appeals, funding and visibility Inter-agency appeal analysis and public awareness
      In 2014, appeal funding requirements increased by 38 per cent compared with 2013. There have been eight new appeals since 2013, bringing the total to 27 in 2014. There were three level-three emergencies: Central African Republic (CAR), the Philippines (Super Typhoon Haiyan) and Syria. A record number of inter-agency appeals surpassed the billion-dollar mark (Iraq, South Sudan, the Syria Regional Refugee Response Plan and the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan). The majority of funding requested and provided went to these mega-crises. Iraq, South Sudan and the Syria response plans accounted for approximately 55 per cent of funding required and requested. Globally, the average amount of funding received per person increased by $28 to $182. In 2014, only four per cent of projects were gender-specific, showing no increase from previous years.
    • Humanitarian needs: sector funding - Funding per sector, CERF contributions per sector
      2014 saw a repeating pattern in terms of sector funding. Multisectoral programmes and the food-assistance sector continued to have the largest funding requests. Food assistance is generally the best-funded sector, but coordination and support services was the best-funded sector in 2014. It received a similar funding level in 2013 (77 per cent), so this change in pattern reflects decreasing funding levels for emergency food aid rather than increased support for coordination.
    • Conflict in 2014 Overall numbers of refugees, IDPs and asylum seekers; number of political conflicts
      Forty-six extremely violent political conflicts took place in 2014, marking an increase of one compared to 2013. The total number of political conflicts increased by 10 to 424. The overall number of refugees and people forcibly displaced by violence or conflict increased by 8.3 million to reach a staggering 59.5 million people worldwide. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) increased by roughly 15 per cent to reach a new high of 38.2 million.
    • Natural disasters in 2014 - Overall trends in natural disasters, number of affected people and cost of disasters
      Roughly the same number of natural disasters occurred in 2014 as in 2013. However, the number of affected people increased from 97 million in 2013 to 141 million in 2014. This could be explained by an increase in the number of droughts.
    • Global landscape Migration, global demographics, health, technology, gender-based violence and poverty
      Conflicts and natural disasters have been seen as the main drivers of humanitarian need. They are often treated as discrete events, with little analysis of the underlying causes and warning signs. Today, the humanitarian landscape is changing more rapidly than ever. Global risks are recognized as increasingly central to humanitarian crises. They can make people more vulnerable and prevent them from building the resilience necessary to cope with shocks. The protracted and recurrent crises we see around the world today are a direct result of this vulnerability.
    • Issues of increasing concern - Statelessness, forced labour and human trafficking
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Regional perspectives

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    • Responding to natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region
      Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Governments in the Asia-Pacific region have increased their capacity to respond to natural disasters. Evidence for this can be seen in the increase in disaster management legislation passed, and the number of national disaster management authorities established in the past 10 years. These national disaster management authorities and systems are increasingly capable of managing an effective response to many of the disasters they face. Moreover, the growing prominence of bilateral response in the region and the intention of regional organizations to play a central role are changing the face of humanitarian response.
    • Initial response and key immediate needs
      In many middle-income countries with substantial domestic capacity (see figure 7), the value of external assistance is increasingly seen as boosting the speed and volume of life-saving assistance provided in the early stages of the response, and augmenting national and regional capacity when affected States become overwhelmed. In the Asia-Pacific region, recent humanitarian operations have highlighted the need to realign international response in a way that supports communities, national and local authorities, and regional organizations. When humanitarian relief is delivered quickly and critical needs addressed immediately, communities are better placed to focus on restoring livelihoods and recovering from the shock.
    • The impact of conflict on humanitarian action in the Middle East and North Africa Regional overview and country pages: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, oPt, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen
      The Middle East and North Africa region has witnessed an upsurge in violent conflict and displacement, particularly in the wake of the Arab revolutions. Since 2010, the number of conflicts, refugees and IDPs has grown in the region. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of conflicts increased by 35 per cent, from 55 to 74. In that same period, the number of IDPs more than doubled from 6.7 million to 15.6 million, while the number of refugees increased by nearly half from 5 million to 7.5 million. The upsurge in conflict has led to worrying patterns of sexual and gender-based violence targeting women, girls and minority groups. A convergence of factors related to culture, stigma and access to services all impact reporting, making it impossible to have an accurate picture of incidences, prevalence and dynamics.
    • Regional refugee-hosting countries in focus - Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey
      For decades, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria have been home to nearly half of all Palestinian refugees. Since 2013, the number of refugees in the region has increased drastically, particularly with Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict. The majority of refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. While some refugees are housed in camps, a vast proportion – approximately half – are living in urban areas, with different needs to refugees in camps.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Trends, challenges and opportunities

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    • The cost of humanitarian assistance
      The humanitarian system has continued to professionalize and grow. Since 2004, the number of people targeted for assistance has more than doubled to reach 82.5 million in 2015, but the increase in funding requirements has risen at a much faster rate. In the same time frame, the cost of humanitarian assistance increased sixfold, from $3.4 billion to $19.5 billion. However, the number of inter-agency appeals has remained relatively stable at an average of 30 per year. Within the context of UN peace operations,* humanitarian action is the costliest activity. For example, in 2014, inter-agency appeal funding was more than $10 billion, while funding for peacekeeping operations stood at $8 billion.
    • The evolution of the Central Emergency Response Fund
      CERF is one of the fastest and most effective ways to support rapid humanitarian response for people affected by natural disasters and armed conflict. The Fund, which is managed by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), has a $450 million annual funding target and receives voluntary contributions from donors year-round. This money is set aside for immediate use at the onset of emergencies, in rapidly deteriorating situations (rapid response) and in protracted crises that fail to attract sufficient resources (underfunded emergencies). CERF has a loan facility of up to $30 million
    • The evolution of country-based pooled funds
      Country-based pooled funds (CBPFs) are multi-donor humanitarian financing instruments established by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). These innovative humanitarian funds allow governments and private donors alike to pool their contributions to support a specific emergency. CBPFs are managed by OCHA at the country-level under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). They complement other sources of funding, are field-driven and aligned with country humanitarian response plans (HRPs). This ensures that flexible, coordinated, inclusive and needs-based funding is available and prioritized at the local level by the relief partners closest to people in need.
    • Funding trends: where does the money come from?
      Humanitarian spending is usually a very small portion of financial support provided to a country. Humanitarian funding is a small proportion of overall Official Development Assistance (ODA), and it pales in comparison to development funding, remittances and foreign direct investment. Donor governments, particularly OECD-DAC Member States, tend to provide the largest contributions to humanitarian assistance, but other donors and private organizations are increasing their support. A study of a complex crisis (Iraq) and a natural disaster (Philippines) showed that funding patterns were strikingly similar, with humanitarian assistance being only a small portion of ODA, overshadowed by remittances and/or foreign direct investment.
    • The humanitarian-development nexus in protracted crises
      To date, there have been six crises with an inter-agency appeal renewed for ten consecutive years or more: Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Somalia and Sudan. Beyond their protracted nature, these crises exhibit links between development indicators and humanitarian action in-country. Over the last five years, as funding per person has increased, development indicators have improved. In some cases, the cause of the increase in per capita spending was directly related to a major emergency, such as the 2013 conflict in CAR. But this is not necessarily the case in all instances.
    • Measuring impact: the case of Darfur
      The protracted humanitarian crisis in Darfur has required annual inter-agency humanitarian appeals since the conflict began in 2003. But despite the presence of peacekeepers, aid workers and development actors, there has been no significant improvement in the region’s development. Insecurity and instability have continued to generate humanitarian needs, and 2014 saw the highest level of new displacement for a decade. The operating environment for aid organizations remains extremely challenging. While the majority of people in need can be reached, some areas have not been accessed for several years.
    • Long-term trends in natural disasters
      There is a lot of overlap when evaluating the top 10 countries by the number of disasters and the number of people affected by disasters. China tops the list by number of disasters (332) and number of people affected (over 1 billion). In decreasing order, the top 10 countries by number of disasters (cumulative, 2004-2014) are as follows: China, United States, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Mexico and Bangladesh. In decreasing order, the top 10 countries by number of people affected over the same period are as follows: China, India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Ethiopia, Kenya and the United States.
    • Long-term trends in conflict
      The number of political conflicts has steadily increased since 2006 by an average of 18 conflicts per year. Most new conflicts are intra-State. On average, Asia and Oceania records the most conflicts per year (116), but sub-Saharan Africa records the most high-intensity conflicts per year (13). The number of high-intensity conflicts has decreased in all regions since 2012. The exception is in the Middle East and Maghreb, where the number of high-intensity conflicts in 2014 reached a record 14.
    • Vulnerability and cycles of internal displacement
      In 2014, 11 million people were newly displaced due to violence or conflict. This is equivalent to 30,000 people fleeing each day. Generally, the ratio of men to women among IDPs tends to match that of the general population, with slightly more women than men living in protracted displacement. Displacement is often recurrent and protracted, fuelled by vulnerability and the failure to secure IDPs’ return, local integration or settlement elsewhere in broader development and peacebuilding programmes.
    • Disaster-related displacement and middle-income countries
      In 2014, 19.3 million people were displaced by natural disasters. Ninety-one per cent of this displacement was due to weather-related events. The three countries with the highest numbers of disaster-induced displacement were China, India and the Philippines. They also had the highest levels of cumulative displacement for the 2008-2014 period. All three countries have experienced repeating patterns of displacement, with floods and storms regularly causing the most displacement in these three countries.
    • The impact of explosive weapons on civilian populations
      The use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a major cause of death, injuries, damage and displacement to civilians due to their wide-area impact. Between 2011 and 2014, 144,545 deaths and injuries were recorded from the use of explosive weapons. Of these deaths and injuries, 78 per cent were civilians. During this same period, 10,386 incidents were recorded. Sixty per cent of these incidents took place in populated areas, and 90 per cent of deaths and injuries in populated areas were civilians. Between 2011 and 2014, there were 77 civilian deaths and injuries per day and 23 civilian fatalities per day on average.
    • The use of improvised explosive devices
      IEDs include a range of makeshift explosive weapons. They can be made from military ordnance, commercial explosives or common homemade sources. IED attacks kill and injure thousands of civilians each year, damage homes and infrastructure, and undermine the security and development of affected communities. Between 2011 and 2014, IED incidents were recorded in 71 countries. On average, 78 per cent of IED casualties were civilians. Suicide bombings, a type of IED attack,
    • The data deficit: the case of East Africa
      Accurate data is crucial in humanitarian response. Data contributes to planning processes by showing gaps in national capacities, supporting rapid decisions by reflecting humanitarian need and providing the evidence base for advocacy. Lack of data has implications for gaining an accurate understanding of regional vulnerability. OCHA’s Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) team established a Data Lab in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2014 to offer data services to partners and connect data from across the region. One of its first projects was a data-hunting exercise to collect information on 43 indicators at the state level across 10 countries (Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda).
    • Online volunteer coordination: the Ebola emergency
      The 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease outbreak devastated West Africa. As of 1 July 2015, 27,524 cases and 11,228 deaths had been recorded in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Responders were tested by the scale of the emergency, the urban setting and underresourced national infrastructures. The speed of sharing data and information was recognized as key in containing the spread of the disease. The crisis also demonstrated the importance of partnering with non-traditional actors and embracing innovative methods to collect data, such as crowdsourcing and online coordination. A group of online volunteers, led by the Standby Task Force (SBTF), compiled information on health-care facilities. The information was then mapped out with the support of OCHA and UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and released to relevant responders.
    • Innovative tools for data coordination and collection
      Technology is driving new (often inexpensive) modalities for information sharing and communication in humanitarian response. On 27 August 2014, members of the humanitarian community began the Ebola IM/GIS Skype group. This platform enabled communications across agencies and countries to share best practices and latest news in information management (IM) and geospatial information systems (GIS) during the Ebola response. The group was formed under the overall coordination of the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN).
    • Social media and humanitarian disasters: Typhoon Ruby
      During humanitarian crises, social media users around the world post messages, photos and videos to various social media sites. The use of social media as a means for communication and a place to gather data remains an experimental field for humanitarian organizations. However, mainstream media have embraced the phenomenon and routinely feature user-generated content in articles and broadcasts. Given the large volume, velocity and variety of information contained in social media sites, capturing relevant data requires a significant amount of processing. Technologies for processing and aggregating those messages through a mixture of computing algorithms and human annotations have continued to mature in recent years.
    • Perceptions about humanitarian action
      The World Humanitarian Summit is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General. It is the first global summit on humanitarian action of this size and scope, and it will be held in Istanbul in May 2016. Its goal is to bring the global community together to commit to new ways of working together to save lives and reduce hardship around the globe. In the two years leading up to the summit, regional consultations and surveys were conducted to gather perspectives, priorities and recommendations from all stakeholders on what must be done to make humanitarian action fit for the future. The questions and answers in this infographic were featured in these surveys. They present a snapshot of global perceptions about humanitarian action.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts User’s guide

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    • Limitations, technical notes by figure, sources and references
      This report is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of global humanitarian data and trends. However, there are many gaps and inconsistencies in the information available. There is no single, comprehensive source of humanitarian information and data. There are no widely used standards for measuring humanitarian needs or response, even less so for measuring the long-term effectiveness of assistance. And there are no agreed definitions of humanitarian needs or assistance.
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