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Multi-year humanitarian funding: a thematic evaluation

Research reports

Written by Simon Levine

Hero image description: A community health worker documents the weight of children at a health centre in Kinshasa, DRC Image credit:Dominic Chavez/World Bank Image license:CC-BY-NC-ND

Humanitarian aid is largely concentrated in crises that are protracted or recurrent. In 2016, 60% of global humanitarian financing went to just 10 countries. Almost three-quarters of this aid went to long-term recipients (where a crisis has lasted eight years or more) and 86% went to crises that had endured over three years. In many of these countries, such as the four studied for this evaluation, crises have endured for decades but humanitarian aid has remained annualised and short-term.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) introduced multi-year humanitarian funding (MYHF) in 2014 to address this problem. With the introduction of longer funding timeframes, it was anticipated that there would be improvements in cost-efficiency, better preparedness and earlier response, better-quality programming, and the ability to address underlying causes of crises and help build resilience.

To test how far these potential benefits can be realised in practice, DFID commissioned a four-year thematic evaluation of MYHF to run in parallel with the first MYHF business cases in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia and Pakistan. The evaluation was asked to answer questions on whether MYHF helped build resilience, whether contingency funding led to quicker response and the extent to which MYHF provided better value for money.

This report summarises the learning from the thematic evaluation and employs an integrated analysis of separate country and themed studies to identify which factors shaped people’s resilience and how far humanitarian aid was addressing those factors with MYHF.

Simon Levine and Lewis Sida with Bill Gray and Courtenay Cabot Venton