2001 report on ECHO
To assess the activity of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) in 2001.
Report from the Commission- Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) - Annual Report 2001 [COM(2002)322 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
This report is published in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 concerning humanitarian aid. This stipulates that after each budget year, the Commission must submit an annual report to the European Parliament and the Council on the measures financed during the year.
The report states that in 2001, ECHO made significant progress, particularly with respect to its role in the linking of relief, rehabilitation and development, improving its relations with the United Nations and implementing its administrative reform.
As outlined in the Communication on linking relief, rehabilitation and development, adopted in April 2001, ECHO will focus more clearly on its core mandate, i.e. providing immediate life-saving relief in emergencies. A working paper setting out the criteria for the phase-out of humanitarian assistance and the hand-over to development cooperation was drawn up by the Commission.
ECHO developed a methodology to better define forgotten crises and unstable post-crisis situations. This methodology is based on an analysis of media reporting and coverage of needs through other donors. The crises thus identified in 2001 through this new tool were Angola, Western Sahara and Chechnya and they were allocated considerable funding.
ECHO's methodology for assessing humanitarian needs was also improved in 2001. With this tool, ECHO has been able to demonstrate that its operations focus on the areas of greatest need.
With regard to its administrative reform, ECHO concentrated on restructuring its internal organisation and working methods, and developing instruments to measure and improve its results. Thus, in June 2001, a fast-track decision-making procedure was adopted, enabling ECHO to approve urgent projects within 24 to 72 hours.
In the course of 2001, a web-based crises information system was developed, which provides daily updates. A new local information system is being studied.
Operations carried out by ECHO
The global trend towards more frequent and more damaging disasters continues. The most important events in 2001 were: the earthquakes in El Salvador and India, the floods in India and the droughts in Central Asia. The global situation concerning man-made disasters remains very poor. It is estimated that 2.2 million people were killed in conflicts since 1991. The number of wars and violent crises is increasing and totalled 38 at the end of 2001.
ECHO allocated EUR 543.7 million to humanitarian crises in 2001. It signed 1 031 operation contracts and its aid funded projects in over 60 countries.
This report reviews the aid granted to the various parts of the world and their situation from a humanitarian point of view. The African, Caribbean and Pacific region was the largest recipient of funds in 2001 (EUR 173 320 million). The funds allocated to the Balkans were lower than the previous year due to the stabilisation in the region. However, the aid allocated to Asia increased. The Palestinian territories once again remained one of the major spheres of ECHO's intervention.
In 2001, the Humanitarian Aid Office implemented two action plans under the DIPECHO programme (disaster preparedness activities within a regional framework): one in South-East Asia and one in Central America. The programme was extended to South Asia.
In 2001, ECHO signed the Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) with 27 new partners. The operation of the FPA was revised, taking account of the quality of aid.
Throughout 2001, ECHO granted EUR 1.6 million for the programme to subsidise initiatives on training, studies and networks in the humanitarian field.
In 2001, ECHO's new information and communication strategy, adopted in 2000, was first implemented. It aims to define target audiences more clearly, develop the use of the Internet, define more structured objectives and establish closer links between ECHO headquarters and field offices. This approach was reflected in an EU-wide opinion poll aimed at gauging the level of public knowledge of ECHO and humanitarian issues. The poll revealed considerable support for the principle of humanitarian assistance but relatively low recognition levels for the role played by ECHO and a desire for more information on this issue.
In 2001, the rate of budget implementation in terms of commitment appropriations was 100% and 90.5% in terms of payment appropriations.
Outlook and perspectives
There are three major humanitarian challenges in the world: the persistence of protracted man-made crises; emerging crisis theatres in areas considered more or less stable in the past; and increasingly adverse effects of natural disasters.