Chapeau of the Humanitarian Appeal for 2011

30 November 2010

In 2011, tens of millions of people will need emergency aid to survive.  Conflicts and natural disasters have cut them off from their homes, their livelihoods, and access to essentials like drinking water and health care.  They already suffer or are imminently threatened by malnourishment, disease, or violence.  Most are poor people who have few if any means to cope with these traumas.  This Appeal asks for the resources needed to deliver to these people the best possible help, in time.

Humanitarian country teams – non-governmental aid organizations, United Nations agencies, and other international organizations – have analysed the situations and humanitarian needs in fourteen major crises, and are now launching concerted action plans with commensurate funding requests for 2011: the Consolidated Appeals for Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Haiti, Kenya, Niger, occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, West Africa region, and Zimbabwe.

In a rare year of two mega-disasters – the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods – humanitarian donors rose to the challenge in 2010, posting some $13 billion in international humanitarian funding, the most ever recorded in a single year.   Of this, the peer-reviewed and coordinated projects in consolidated and flash appeals have attracted a record $6.6 billion.  Despite the slow recovery from the global recession, governmental and private donors both demonstrated impressive levels of support.

Humanitarian needs have eased slightly in some protracted crises.  Parts of Somalia have better food security following adequate rains and harvests.  Niger’s food and nutrition crisis has lessened since its acute peak earlier in 2010 (though it is still alarmingly large and severe).  Food security has also improved somewhat in Zimbabwe.  However the indications for other crises are that they will be as severe as ever.

Despite the two mega-disasters, there were relatively few natural disasters of a more normal scale in 2010.  Flash appeals were only necessary for Guatemala following a tropical storm in June, and for floods in some West Africa countries (plus another for a civil conflict in Kyrgyzstan).  Hurricane and cyclone seasons have so far spared any major hits (a particular relief for the more than one million Haitians still living in temporary shelter).  Droughts have struck some countries, but fewer than the last few years of frequently abnormal and extreme weather might have predicted. 

However, vulnerabilities remain high.  Food and fuel prices are still well above historical averages.  The recession has hit trade, which affects even the poorest, plus remittances, which affect them even more directly.  2010 showed how readily deeply vulnerable regions like the Sahel can fall into acute crisis – Niger and western Chad most dramatically.  Broad-based economic growth that benefits the poorest remains elusive in many countries.  Humanitarian action is no substitute for development that alleviates poverty; but it is unconscionable to fail to act to save lives and to help people regain decent living conditions in any cases, whether the root causes of a crisis come from extreme chronic vulnerabilities and accumulated stresses or a sudden extraordinary event.

Conflict still dominates the lives of people in many countries, also causing flows of refugees and internally displaced people.  Armed groups abuse civilians in the Central African Republic, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan’s Darfur region, and Somalia among others.  Conflict continues to spread in Afghanistan.  In the occupied Palestinian territory, conflict is expressed in daily restrictions and constraints on basic living and livelihoods, with life-threatening consequences.

However in Kenya, the constitutional referendum passed peacefully.  The power-sharing arrangement in Zimbabwe has alleviated tensions.  In Yemen, a ceasefire was agreed in February 2010, although its implementation has been slow and clashes have continued.  The civil war in Sri Lanka is over, allowing the focus to shift to residual humanitarian care for recently resettled displaced people and those awaiting resettlement, plus peace-building and recovery.  In Nepal, the end of civil conflict has also held, and the humanitarian system now focuses on extreme chronic vulnerability and disaster preparedness.  Resettlement of people displaced by Uganda’s civil war is nearly complete, and Uganda will have no consolidated appeal for 2011. 

These examples show that humanitarian action does not create dependence when, providing emergency relief and setting the appropriate conditions for early recovery, it helps people and communities to re-build their resilience and self-sufficiency and thus sets the course for improving the overall living conditions in crises-affected countries.

In 2011, the humanitarian system aims to achieve similar results wherever possible for people who still must rely on the generosity of their neighbours, communities, and people elsewhere who give a sliver of their income to those who cannot survive without it.

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30 November 2010

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