OCHA Policy and Studies Series

2412-4524 (online)
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The Policy and Studies Series provide an indepth analysis of humanitarian policy issues. They include information on normative developments, principles for humanitarian assistance, and advice on compliance and accountability.
Saving lives today and tomorrow

Saving lives today and tomorrow

Managing the risk of humanitarian crises You do not have access to this content

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31 Dec 2015
9789210541411 (PDF)

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The premise of this report is that most humanitarian crises are to some extent predictable and preventable. With new and old risks increasing the pressure on the international humanitarian system, it looks at ways in which the system can be improved and transformed to better anticipate, prevent and manage crises.
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  • Acknowledgments
    Research for this report was undertaken jointly by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and DARA.
  • Messages from the advisory group
    The sad fact is that not only are humanitarian needs rising, as the rising world population faces increased risks from climate change, environmental degradation and the consequences of conflict, but anyone in the business also knows we need to do much more to reduce the impact of disasters before they happen, and to build local capacity. This report is another wake-up call to all concerned—humanitarian and development agencies, donors and affected Governments alike—to take our collective heads out of the sand, and apply more of our minds and our resources in these directions. There should be no more excuses.
  • Executive summary
    The number of people affected by humanitarian crises has almost doubled over the past decade and is expected to keep rising. In early 2014, international aid organizations aimed to assist 52 million people in crisis, and millions more people sought help from their communities, local organizations and Governments. The cost of international humanitarian aid has more than trebled in the last 10 years, and responders are being asked to do more, at a greater cost, than ever before.
  • Introduction
    The instinct to help is as old as humanity. Support to a friend in need, aid to a neighbour in crisis, and acts of altruism and solidarity are all essential to who we are.
  • Risks and consequences
    This chapter outlines some basic concepts related to risk. It explores the challenges facing people vulnerable to crisis in today’s world, how those risks can converge to cause humanitarian crises, and the perspectives of humanitarian practitioners on risks. It also describes the risk landscape in case studies for Burkina Faso, Central Asia, Indonesia and Southern Africa.
  • Why risk matters to humanitarian assistance
    This chapter describes approaches that contribute to managing crisis risk, and the existing barriers to anticipating and preventing humanitarian crises. It discusses the role of Governments and others, as well as how the humanitarian sector can contribute to better crisis-risk management.
  • Managing crisis risk more effectively
    Many humanitarian initiatives already contribute to managing crisis risk. This chapter draws on examples to explore how humanitarian organizations can maximize their contributions and work more closely with Governments and development agencies. It highlights best practices and opportunities for change across four key areas
  • Conclusions and recommendations
    The number of people facing humanitarian crises is rising, and the international humanitarian system cannot keep up. Climate change, food-price volatility and other emerging threats have increased the risk and complexity of crises, making them bigger, longer and more difficult to deal with. Chronic, recurring crises have eroded people’s ability to cope, rendering them increasingly vulnerable to future calamities. Humanitarian organizations are being asked to do more, and at greater cost, than ever before. Development programming is often not targeted at the people most at risk of humanitarian crises, or sufficiently flexible to respond to changing risks and potential crises.
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