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Humanitarian financing for older people and people with disabilities

Summary of study1

A recent study quantifies the funding provided by donors to meet the humanitarian needs of two of the most vulnerable groups: older people and people with disabilities. It does so by analysing the amount of humanitarian funding targeted at these two groups through the UN Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) and Flash Appeals in 2010 and 2011. A similar study was conducted by HelpAge International on the humanitarian funding provided for older people from 2007 to 2010. That study found a significant disparity between the needs of older people as a vulnerable group and the humanitarian assistance delivered to meet those needs. Of the total CAP and Flash Appeal funds analysed in 2007 to 2010 in selected countries, just 0.2% was allocated to projects that included an activity specifically targeted at older people. The current research and the previous HelpAge study are not directly comparable as they looked at different countries.

Demographic change means that the number of older people affected by crises and disasters is growing fast. By 2050, the number of people aged 60 and over will almost triple, reaching 2 billion (22% of the world’s population). More than 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability (15.3%), of which 200 million experience considerable difficulties carrying out daily tasks. Many of those categorised as having a disability are also older people. Rates of disability are also much higher among the 80-plus age group. While older people and people with disabilities make an invaluable contribution to society, they are particularly vulnerable to external shocks and upheaval in their daily environment.

This research study examined the CAP for 14 countries and four Flash Appeals that took place in 2010 and 2011. All the projects (totalling 6,003) submitted to these appeals were examined, the majority (5,330) under the CAP. The primary tool for collecting data was the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). The FTS project sheets were analysed to identify projects that targeted older people, or people with disabilities, or both. The FTS captures all information on projects in the CAP, including any activities targeting specific groups, and donor funding contributed to the CAP. However, reporting on whether specific projects were funded is done on a voluntary basis either by the donor, the aid recipient, or both. It is recognised that donors’ funding is not limited to their contributions to the CAP and Flash Appeals, and in this sense, the research does not provide a complete picture. However, the study is considered to be a sufficient proxy indicator of the levels of official funding allocated to older people and people with disabilities. CAP and Flash Appeal documents are used as planning tools for donor support; they are approved by the Resident or Humanitarian Coordinator and serve as the basis for funding applications to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), country-level pooled funds (such as the Common Humanitarian Fund), and other donors.

The study is based on CAP data downloaded from the OCHA FTS from 9–16 November and 12–13 December 2011. The donor-specific information was downloaded from the OCHA-FTS on 5 January 2012

"I can now go out in the sun" – words of Ghulam Mohammad (60 years old) who received a wheelchair from HelpAge International and who also provide a monthly cash grant to his family.

Key findings

In 2010 and 2011, 145 (2.4%) of the 6,003 projects submitted to the CAP and Flash Appeals included at least one activity targeting older people or people with disabilities, and 61 of these were funded (1%). Of these 145 projects, most of the other activities focused on general assistance and/or other vulnerable groups. There was an increase between 2010 and 2011 in the overall number of projects submitted, and there was also an increase in the number of projects targeting older people or people with disabilities. However, few agencies submitted projects with an activity targeting older people or people with disabilities in both years.

In 2010 and 2011, 47 projects (0.78%) included at least one activity targeting older people, and 18 of these were funded (0.3%). In about half of these projects (21), the targeting of older people accounted for less than 25% of total project activities. In both years, 22 agencies submitted projects that included at least one activity targeting older people. Only three submitted projects in both years. Twenty-two of the projects for older people in 2010 and 2011 (46%) were submitted by one NGO (HelpAge International).

In 2010 and 2011, 98 projects (1.6% of submitted projects) included at least one activity targeting people with disabilities, and 43 of these were funded (0.7%). In both years, 50 agencies submitted projects including at least one activity targeting people with disabilities. Only 10 agencies put forward projects in both years. Among the 98 projects submitted in both years, 29 exclusively targeted people with disabilities, of which 18 were submitted by one NGO (Handicap International).

Only 19 projects (0.3%) included one or more activities targeting both older people and people with disabilities. Of these, four were funded. Four of the 19 projects were submitted by Handicap International and focused exclusively on older people and people with disabilities. The other 15 projects addressed a number of vulnerable groups in addition to older people and people with disabilities, such as women and children. On average, 9% of the total activities in these projects were targeted at meeting the needs of older people and people with disabilities.

In 2010 and 2011, projects including at least one activity targeted at older people or people with disabilities were submitted in 15 of the appeal countries (94%). Projects with activities targeting older people or people with disabilities were put forward in 11 out of the 12 Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) sectors (there were none in the security sector). While this appears to be a strong spread of projects, the figure masks substantial differences between the two groups in terms of their representation in projects within sectors and countries.

Most projects were in three sectors: health, protection, and shelter and non-food items (NFIs). There were only four projects that targeted an activity for older people in the economic recovery sector, and only one of those was funded. In 2010, projects including at least one activity targeted at older people were put forward in appeals in eight countries. This rose to nine in 2011. In 21 countries, there were no projects with activities targeting older people in any sector, in 2010 or 2011: Chad, Central African Republic, the Republic of South Sudan, West Africa (comprising 16 countries), Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Safo Bonaya Boru, Galma Roba Village, Ethiopia

In 2010, projects that included at least one activity targeting people with disabilities were submitted in 10 of the 12 IASC-recognised sectors (projects in eight sectors were funded). This fell to nine sectors in 2011 (projects in seven sectors were funded). Most projects were in three sectors: health, water and sanitation, and education. There were no projects in the security sector in either year. In 2010, projects including at least one activity targeted at people with disabilities were submitted in appeals in 10 countries, nine of which received funding. This rose to 12 in 2011, 10 of which were funded. In only one country, Yemen, were there no projects that included any activities targeting people with disabilities in any sector, in 2010 or 2011.

In 2010 and 2011, US$10.9 billion was contributed by official donors to the CAP and Flash Appeals. A total of US$73 million was allocated to projects that included at least one activity targeted at older people or people with disabilities (0.7% of overall funding). A total of US$27.6 million went to projects targeted exclusively at older people or people with disabilities (0.3%).

In 2010, US$2.6 million was allocated to projects that included at least one activity targeting older people (0.04 % of all funding). This increased to US$6.7 million (0.13 %) in 2011. Most of this increase is accounted for by a small number of large projects rather than a more consistent coverage across humanitarian responses. In 2010, US$40.6 million was allocated to projects that included at least one activity targeting people with disabilities (0.7 % of all funding). This fell to US$22.3 million (0.43 %) in 2011.

In 2010 and 2011, a total of 235 bilateral and multilateral donors contributed funds to the CAP and Flash Appeals. Just over 60 % of all the funding was provided by 10 donor countries. More donors funded projects that included at least one activity for people with disabilities than projects that included at least one activity for older people. In 2010 and 2011, seven donors provided CAP or Flash Appeal funding for projects that included at least one activity targeting older people. The number rose from three in 2010 to five in 2011. Only one donor, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), funded such projects in both years. Two of the ten biggest donors to CAP and Flash Appeals provided no CAP or Flash funding for projects that included activities targeting older people (USA and UK).

The number of donors that provided funding to projects that included at least one activity targeting people with disabilities decreased, from 18 in 2010 to 14 in 2011. Thirteen donor countries allocated funds to such projects in both years. All of the 10 biggest donors to CAP and Flash Appeals allocated some funding to projects that included activities targeting people with disabilities. Of the three biggest donors, funding from the USA decreased from 2010 to 2011, while funding from ECHO and the UK remained constant.

Conclusions and recommendations

The total amount of projects and funding for both the elderly and people with disabilities remains extremely low, highlighting the significant disparity between the needs of these two vulnerable groups and the humanitarian assistance delivered to meet those needs. A high proportion of the projects submitted to support older people and people with disabilities were presented by two specialist NGOs, HelpAge International and Handicap International (28 %). Many of the other projects submitted (62 %) are in countries where these two NGOs are present and advocating for better inclusion of these two vulnerable groups in humanitarian response.

Only 312 of the 6,003 projects analysed (5.2%) mentioned older people and people with disabilities alongside other vulnerable groups. In other words, thousands of projects made no mention of the potential vulnerabilities of older people and people with disabilities, and how the crisis affected them. Clearly, there is still a long way to go to ensure that the humanitarian system responds to the needs of older people and people with disabilities.

If the humanitarian community is to fulfil its commitment to the impartial provision of humanitarian assistance to those in greatest need, it must take urgent steps to address the needs of two of the most vulnerable groups: older people and people with disabilities

Humanitarian agencies must ensure that needs assessments provide accurate information on all vulnerable groups by collecting data on older people and people with disabilities, and disaggregating the data by age and gender. Greater efforts should be made to document and share examples of good practice on inclusion of vulnerable groups so that these can be consistently applied during project design and implementation. Cluster Lead Agencies, UNOCHA and Humanitarian Coordinators must provide leadership on this issue to ensure adequate accountability to all beneficiary populations and consistency across countries and sectors. Bilateral and multilateral donors have an essential role to play in encouraging and enabling an appropriate and inclusive humanitarian response, by providing flexible, timely funding that is allocated in proportion to need and on the basis of thorough needs assessment.

Show footnotes

1HelpAge International and Handicap International (2012). A study of humanitarian financing for older people and people with disabilities, 2010–2011. Published by HelpAge International, London and Handicap International, Lyon

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Reference this page

Humanitarian financing for older people and people with disabilities. Field Exchange 44, December 2012. p15. www.ennonline.net/fex/44/humanitarian