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Global Humanitarian Overview: Why does it matter?

30 nov 2018


The Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) for 2019 will be launched in Geneva on 4 December. It is the most comprehensive, authoritative and evidence-based assessment of priority global humanitarian needs and how to respond to them. But why does it matter?

Humanitarian crises across the globe now affect more people and last longer on average than ever before. More resources are required so that aid workers can reach all vulnerable people most in need. While donors have been generous, increasing contributions to inter-agency-coordinated response plans from US$3.7 billion in 2007 to nearly $14 billion thus far in 2018, needs have far outstripped resources year after year.

By providing the most accurate assessment of needs and how best to meet them, the GHO helps to: mobilize resources; ensure that the resources are targeted towards the people, sectors and areas that need them the most; and promote efficiency so that the resources are used as  effectively as possible.

What is the process to create the GHO?

The building blocks of the GHO are the country Humanitarian Needs Overviews (HNOs) and Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs), which outline the multiple needs of crisis-affected people and how best to assist them.

The HNO for each crisis presents the best available information on humanitarian needs based on the analysis of data from surveys, household interviews with affected people, field visits, secondary data, and consultations with country-based humanitarian organizations. Building on this, UN agencies and humanitarian partners develop HRPs, which set out detailed, costed response priorities and future projections of needs, while mapping the capacity and plans of other responders (including Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, governments and development partners) and considering access challenges.

The processes that lead up to the GHO are undertaken collaboratively and involve consultation with crisis-affected people and governments, in collaboration with national and international humanitarian partners. The result is an authoritative assessment of what resources are required
to best help those most in need through an intersectoral approach.

Estimates of people in need in HNOs have become more accurate thanks to new methodology and more precise, standardized terminology. In many countries, including Iraq, Ukraine and Yemen, information management working groups collaborate to agree on the numbers. Experts in these countries are also taking innovative approaches to track changes in the number of people in chronic or acute need over time.

Crises in numbers

Over the past decade, humanitarian crises have been increasing in number and duration. Between 2005 and 2017, the number of crises receiving an internationally led response almost doubled, from 16 to 30, while the average length of a crisis with an active inter-agency appeal increased similarly.

Since 2015, appeals for crises lasting five years or longer have commanded 80 per cent of funding received and requested, compared with approximately 30 per cent in 2015.

The number of people in need and targeted for assistance has also steadily grown in recent years.