The amount of official donor flows committed to humanitarian emergencies has increased significantly from 2005 - the year of the Make Poverty History campaign - onwards.
The average annual emergency response commitment from OECD DAC donors was $2.6bn between 1995 and 1999, $3.1bn between 2000 and 2004, and €7.1bn between 2005 and 2008 (figures are in 2008 US$).
Of the US$8.1bn committed to emergency response in 2008, the US was responsible for 54% or $4.3bn, while the UK and Ireland committed $624m (8%) and $147m (2%), respectively.
The picture is somewhat different for total aid commitments. The US was responsible for 27% of the total or $32bn in 2008, with the UK and Ireland committing $7.8bn (7%) and $931m (0.8%), respectively.
Thus, while 7% of the total OECD 2008 ODA (official development assistance) was directed towards emergency relief, the US and Ireland committed a higher proportion of their ODA: 14% and 16%, respectively.
The relatively low proportion of ODA which goes towards emergency relief may be at odds with public perceptions. But what is even more striking is how little is allocated towards disaster prevention and preparedness: $275m, or 0.2% of total ODA by OECD members in 2008.
Changes in Humanitarian Financing: Implications for the United Nations UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, October 2003.
The Quality of Money: Donor Behaviour in Humanitarian Financing Ian Smillie and Larry Minear, Tufts University, April 2003.
GHD and funding according to need The Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative can be seen as the donors’ equivalent of agency initiatives such as the Red Cross/NGO Code of Conduct, which aims to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian responses. In the GHD, donors have committed themselves to a set of principles and good practice for humanitarian action, including the provision of flexible and timely funding in proportion to need.
Promoting Good Humanitarian Donorship: a task for the OECD-DAC? Henrik Hammargren, OECD, Humanitarian Practice Network
Uncertain Power: The Changing Role of Official Donors in Humanitarian Action Joanna Macrae, Sarah Collinson, Margie Buchanan-Smith, Nicola Reindorp, Anna Schmidt, Tasneem Mowjee and Adele Harmer, ODI - Humanitarian Policy Group, December 2002.
Africa: Discrimination in Humanitarian Response – Africa Focus Bulletin, May 15, 2005.