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Invest In Humanity

Accepting and acting upon our shared responsibilities for humanity requires political, institutional and financial investments.


D elivering on the aforementioned four core responsibilities requires acceptance of a fifth responsibility: investing in humanity. Greater political and resource investment in preventing human suffering is the most important investment we can make in humanity and the most critical shift we must agree upon at the World Humanitarian Summit. With the combined knowledge, technology and resources that we have today, it is unacceptable that the levels of suffering from conflict, disasters and other emergencies remain so high. What makes this particularly devastating and deplorable is that so much of the suffering could have been prevented or reduced if we had taken risk and early warning information seriously and invested in the necessary political, institutional and local civil society capacity early and sustainably.

G reater investment in people, local actors and national systems must become an urgent priority. In 2014, just 0.2 per cent of international humanitarian funding was provided directly to national and local non-governmental organizations. Direct funding to affected Governments was similarly low, reaching only 3 per cent of all humanitarian funding. This must change. Without capacity-building, local actors may not be in a position to respond to risks or adequately respond in crises. Capacity also affects the ability of national and local governments and organizations to receive large grants, implement successful programmes and meet donor requirements. Local organizations may face further constraints imposed by counterterrorism measures. For their part, donors may lack the capacity to disburse multiple small grants to local actors and monitor their impact. Supporting local and national actors to respond better themselves during crises must be a core activity and outcome of humanitarian and development efforts. Without strengthened local capacity, any investment in response will remain without returns.

I n addition to insufficient investment in local actors, the international community continues to underinvest in high-risk areas to prevent catastrophes today and tomorrow. The latest estimates for 2014 indicate that only 0.4 per cent of official development assistance (ODA) was spent on disaster prevention and preparedness. Funding that focuses on peacebuilding remains scarce, inconsistent and unpredictable and while it can reap the greatest returns, funding for conflict prevention is negligible. Funding is not equitable and based on need and the greatest areas of risk, with high-profile crises often diverting resources and attention away from protracted and recurrent crises. This continual crisis response mode and “funding flight” toward peaks of crisis is highly detrimental to our collective ability to build disaster resilience and sustain peace.

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