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Multi-year humanitarian funding: Global baselines and trends (March 2020)

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Executive summary

The Grand Bargain calls for aid organisations and donors to increase multi-year humanitarian planning and funding. However, the extent to which progress is being made remains unclear. Existing data sources – including the Grand Bargain self-reporting process, the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and independent research – do not currently provide a clear picture of the quantity of multi-year funding passing through the humanitarian system.

This study seeks to provide an indicative baseline for multi-year humanitarian funding, analysing data collected directly from Grand Bargain signatories – 11 donors and 10 aid organisations. Key findings drawn from data analysis and key informant interviews are as follows:

Donor allocations of multi-year humanitarian funding have grown

Data collected directly from 11 donors shows that the volume of humanitarian funding they provide and identify as “multi-year” has grown year-on-year, both by volume and as a proportion of their total humanitarian contributions since 2016. Between 2016 and 2018, multi-year funding from these donors grew to US$4.8 billion, a 75% increase. In 2018, multi-year funding accounted for 36% of total humanitarian assistance from these donors.

A variety of factors drive growth in multi-year humanitarian funding from donors

The growth in multi-year contributions was felt, by both donor and aid organisation interviewees, to have been in part enabled by the Grand Bargain process, though only a small number indicated that the Grand Bargain had triggered an overhaul in approach.

For donors, in-house efficiencies in managing grants often generated some of the immediate transitions to multi-year approaches.

Data on earmarking is limited, but where reported, it shows that the majority of multi-year humanitarian funding is earmarked

Data collected on the earmarking of multi-year humanitarian funding for 2016 to 2018 was limited, with an average of 65% not reported with an earmarking category. Where data did indicate the extent of earmarking, “earmarked” or “tightly earmarked” funds account for the majority of multi-year funds in all three years between 2016 and 2018.
These “earmarked” and “tightly earmarked” funds grew as a proportion of multi-year funding for which an earmarking category was provided, from 74% in 2016 to 80% in 2017, before decreasing to 65% in 2018.