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The Commission hones the instruments in its humanitarian aid toolbox

European Commission - MEMO/11/57   01/02/2011

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MEMO/11/57

Brussels, 1 February 2011

The Commission hones the instruments in its humanitarian aid toolbox

The Commission has adopted its first ever global funding decisions under a new system for humanitarian assistance, designed to speed up and streamline aid delivery (see IP/11/117). The main decision, worth more than €564 million, will fund relief operations in crisis zones across the world. Another decision, also adopted today, will provide €34.3 million for risk reduction and preparedness in disaster-prone areas; a further €24 million is allocated to help build the capacity of partner organisations involved in delivering aid on the ground. The three decisions represent 73% of the Commission's annual humanitarian aid budget and are valid for 24 months.

The new system will allow the Commission to act better in the face of rising global humanitarian needs, caused by disasters, conflicts and human displacement. The effects of climate change and the continued impact of the economic crisis particularly affect the most vulnerable populations. In addition, the delivery of aid and access to beneficiaries continues to get more and more difficult and dangerous, raising the cost of security measures in humanitarian operations.

What's new?

For each crisis, ECHO's humanitarian experts evaluate the humanitarian needs on the field, in order to account for all relevant aspects of the disaster and to assess the scope of needs. This case-by-case evaluation is combined with the permanently ongoing Global Needs Assessment (based on crisis and vulnerability indicators) and with the Forgotten Crisis Assessment. These evaluations provide the framework to determine the needs and to allocate an adequate amount of funds. The results of these evaluations will now be presented in the form of the new Humanitarian Implementation Plans (HIPs) .

They will be published on the website of ECHO, the Commission's humanitarian aid department. Each HIP is a current snapshot of a crisis and offers an overview of needs and response as well as a detailed picture of where funds have been allocated, the number of beneficiaries and the help which will be provided through our partners in the field. Each HIP 'document' is accessible to the public.

The HIPs for 2011 cover 27 countries, the region of Sahel and small-scale disasters response.

Advantages of the new approach

Until now, the European Commission adopted around 90 financing decisions every year - around 30 emergency decisions, several other ad-hoc ones, and 55 global humanitarian aid plans.

The new procedure reduces the number of action plans from 55 to just three per year, thus cutting red tape and improving efficiency. In addition, the new system of humanitarian decision-making will be faster, more efficient and more flexible. It will simplify internal administrative procedures, reduce delays in the response to fast-changing humanitarian needs, and allow for a more flexible contract management. Each of the HIPs will help avoid potentially cumbersome intra-service consultations during the year by using the Commission's experience and know-how of helping vulnerable people and by defining at the beginning of the year where and which are the needs and how to provide the most efficient response to them.

It will also ensure the equal treatment of partners and strengthen the audit trail in the selection process. The Commission gives its humanitarian partners an updated toolbox of simpler and more flexible means to participate in project selection.

Another important advantage is the greater transparency of humanitarian aid to stakeholders and EU-citizens. The new procedure offers a global view on the humanitarian intervention of the European Union around the world.

The new system will improve the value delivered by European solidarity to the people affected by disasters and humanitarian crises around the world. In addition, it will also be of benefit to other donor organisations, EU Member States, partner relief providers including the United Nations and its specialised agencies.

Allocation of funds

For 2011, the following regions will be covered by the €564.35 million humanitarian aid budget:

Africa – €309.5 million

(€192.4 million for humanitarian aid and €117.1 million for food assistance) Covering: Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Sahel, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.

Middle East and Mediterranean countries, (Caucasus) – €68 million

(€39.8 million for humanitarian aid and €28.2 million for food assistance)

Covering: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, occupied Palestinian territory, Yemen.

Asia and Pacific – €138.85 million

(€106.4 million for humanitarian aid and €32.45 million for food assistance)

Covering: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Thailand.

Latin America and Caribbean – €45 million

(€33 million for humanitarian aid and €12 million for food assistance)

Covering: Colombia, Haiti

Worldwide (small scale disasters and epidemics response) – €3 million

Part of this overall humanitarian budget will be allocated to Disaster Preparedness (DP) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities. There is an increasing awareness of the importance of DP/DRR in all regions, but local communities and institutions in highly disaster prone areas often have insufficient capacity to prepare for and cope with these events.

For 2011, the following regions will be covered by Disaster Preparedness "Action Plans" under the €34.3 million Disaster Risk Reduction / Disaster Preparedness budget:

South America – €12 million

Around one million direct beneficiaries will be targeted in the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

South Asia – €12 million

The Action Plan will focus on the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with an estimated 1.2 million as potential beneficiaries. The entire region, with an estimated total population of over 1.6 billion, is prone to natural disasters but not all countries have the same degree of exposure.

Caribbean – €8 million

Around 400,000 direct beneficiaries will be targeted in the following countries and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT): Anguilla (OCT), Antigua and Barbuda, Netherlands Antilles (OCT), Aruba (OCT), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominique, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Cayman Islands (OCT), Turks and Caicos Islands (OCT), British Virgin Islands (OCT), Jamaica, Montserrat (OCT), Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

Pacific – €2.3 million

While all Pacific Island States have a similar profile in terms of exposure to disaster risk, there is a varying degree of risk and coping capacity. Those who combine highest risk with low coping capacity are Papua-New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Activities funded in the four targeted regions will focus on improving the capacities of communities at risk and on institutions involved in disaster risk reduction/disaster management, to assist their better preparedness for and protection against natural disasters. Priority will be given to communities in the highest risk of natural disasters and with the lowest coping capacities.

Background

Combining the resources of the Commission and Member States, the European Union is the world’s largest provider of funds for humanitarian aid operations.

The European Commission, through its humanitarian aid department (ECHO), has financed relief projects in more than 140 countries since 1992, easing the suffering of millions of disaster victims around the world.

Funds are allocated for vital goods and services including food, shelter, medical provisions, water supplies, sanitation and demining. Disaster preparedness and risk reduction projects in regions prone to natural catastrophes are also among the life-saving activities financed by Europeans through the Commission.

In 2010, the Commission allocated €1.114.861 billion for humanitarian assistance from which more than €34.295 million for Disaster Risk Reduction/disaster preparedness in Central America, Central Asia, South-East Asia and South-East Africa and the South-East Indian Ocean region. Many of these projects are still ongoing.

Humanitarian projects, funded by the EU budget, are implemented through partners: non-governmental relief organisations, UN agencies and international organisations such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent. The execution of these projects follows the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Aid is channelled directly to the affected populations, regardless of their race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation through our implementing partners.

ECHO partner organisations in the area of disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction regularly engage in the immediate response to disasters, especially in remote areas, and work to build and reinforce local preparedness in high-risk areas.


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