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Lives in Crises

What Do People Tell Us About the Humanitarian Aid They Receive?

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In May 2016, the World Humanitarian Summit represented a turning point for humanitarian policies. The Summit gave the impetus to seriously reflect on how to operate in environments where people’s needs don’t coincide anymore with existing mandates and sectors. The OECD believes that an effective humanitarian response is the one that addresses affected people’s needs in a timely and efficient manner. One way to measure effectiveness is to ask aid beneficiaries what they think about the aid they get. With this is mind, the OECD initiated a first round of surveys during the cycle 2016-2017 in six countries affected by different type of crisis : Lebanon, Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Somalia and Uganda. Two years after the World humanitarian Summit, the OECD and Ground Truth Solutions took another round of surveys in the same countries, plus Bangladesh. The purpose of this second round of surveys is to assess whether the commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit, including the Grand Bargain, are having a tangible impact on people’s lives in the most difficult contexts in the world. This paper provides some answers to this question.

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Humanitarian assistance improves conditions but does not cover all basic needs

Most people surveyed say that humanitarian assistance does not meet their most important needs. For households affected by crises, humanitarian assistance is an important, but generally fluctuating, element of their income. Even the most vulnerable need to complement it with other sources, including taking on more debt. The success of humanitarian assistance does not depend exclusively on volumes of funding. The survey suggests that the quality of the response and local authorities’ management of the crisis are critical elements in recipient satisfaction. Meeting people’s most important needs in a crisis therefore requires a thorough vulnerability analysis to understand household economies and the constraints they face, in order to combine humanitarian assistance with actions or programmes that enhance income generation and preserve assets.

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