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Operational Strategy 2010

 

(This article expired 23.10.2012.)

The Operation Strategy of the Humanitarian Aid of the Czech Republic for 2010 summarizes the humanitarian needs and challenges. On this background, the possible use of available means for the humanitarian assistance abroad is proposed. The annual operational strategy is further reviewed in July-August (Mid-term Review).

2010 Humanitarian Aid Operational Strategy of the Czech Republic

Reason for preparing and presenting the Strategy:

 ·        To demonstrate the Czech Republic´s international commitment to provide for greater predictability of humanitarian aid funding in response to global humanitarian needs, including a qualified response to the Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal (2010 CAP).

·        To provide a comprehensive overview of the priorities and practical implementation of Czech humanitarian aid for the use of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Permanent Missions and Embassies involved in negotiations within the United Nations (Geneva, New York, Rome), European Union (COHAFA and HAC working parties) and the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) platform. 

The purpose of the Operational Strategy is to provide an overview of the basic aims of Czech humanitarian aid in 2010 against the background of international commitments and global humanitarian needs.

 

1.     Introduction

Definition of humanitarian aid, principles and principal actors in humanitarian aid

 

Humanitarian aid is defined as an activity aimed at preventing loss of life, alleviating human suffering, preserving human dignity and preventing harm to the health of the population affected by an emergency – a natural disaster or armed conflict. Humanitarian aid involves not only an immediate response to emergencies, but also follow-up assistance to restore basic living conditions (this may take up to two years after the outbreak of the crisis), preparations for emergencies and the prevention of their negative consequences, as well as assistance in protracted (complex) humanitarian crises during long-lasting conflicts, especially in "fragile" countries. In the context of complex crises as well as disaster risk reduction, humanitarian aid lays the ground for development cooperation.

The provision of humanitarian aid is governed by fundamental international humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. This means that humanitarian aid is provided strictly on the basis of need, without discriminating against any of the affected groups and regardless of the political, economic, military or other aims of the donor and beneficiary.The emphasis is on respect for international humanitarian law, refugee law and human rights.

A dominant role in coordinating humanitarian action is played by the United Nations and its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Issues (UNOCHA); UN agencies are instrumental in implementing international humanitarian aid, including on-site coordination (cluster approach). The European Union is an important donor with strong expertise and an advocate of good donorship; its basic documents are the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid and the Action Plan for its implementation. A major impetus to the development of humanitarian aid principles and good practices comes from the global Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) platform. An important actor in enforcing international humanitarian law and distributing humanitarian aid in unstable regions is the International Red Cross and its National Societies. Commitments relevant to humanitarian aid in the context of disaster risk reduction (DRR) are outlined in the Hyogo Framework of Action, including the conclusions of the Second Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (June 2009).

2. Czech humanitarian aid

Humanitarian aid is an integral part of Czech foreign policy.It is an expression of solidarity with the population in countries affected by natural disasters or armed conflicts. In providing humanitarian aid, the Czech Republic observes, above all, the principles and requirements of Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD), to which it officially committed itself in 2006.

In 2009, the Czech Republic reaffirmed its adherence to the GHD, namely by adopting its first Humanitarian Aid Operational Strategy and by issuing its first call for applications for subsidies to humanitarian aid projects in countries affected by complex crises. These steps considerably enhanced the predictability and transparency of Czech humanitarian aid. In addition, the Czech Republic focused its efforts on continuous reporting of humanitarian aid and on regular sharing of information on humanitarian aid provided by the European Commission (DG ECHO) with Czech diplomatic missions in the countries concerned. At the end of the year, the governmental Development Cooperation Council set up a working party on the funding of humanitarian aid, including DRR, from the European Commission budget. The methodology of evaluation of development cooperation was thoroughly revised to incorporate the basic principles of humanitarian aid evaluation

As the first country to chair the new European Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA), the Czech Republic took an active part in its work and contributed to the application of humanitarian principles and requirements in the context of the EU´s negotiations with third countries, as well as to the coordination of humanitarian action among the EU Member States.

The Czech Republic used 47.5% of its humanitarian aid budget to meet the funding requirements of the 2009 CAP, and provided another 17% to support the projects of other organizations in CAP countries. The subsidy award procedure introduced in 2009 resulted in a considerable increase of the share of non-governmental organizations in Czech humanitarian aid: 47% of the budget went to projects implemented by Czech and foreign NGOs, 38 % to UN agencies, and 7.5 % to the Red Cross and WHO agencies. In geographic terms, the largest share was taken by Asia (41%) as the scene of many conflicts (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma/Myanmar) and natural disasters (Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan), followed by Africa (33%). The Czech Republic´s funding decisions took into account not only the situation in the acute stages of a disaster, but also the needs of post-disaster reconstruction; they also compensated for the funding deficits caused by the economic crisis. 

3. Humanitarian aid in 2010

Humanitarian challenges

As indicated by qualified international analyses of the UN and EU, the number of countries affected by complex and chronic humanitarian crises resulting from many parallel factors is growing worldwide (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa). One of the factors is the impact of the climate change increasing the incidence of natural disasters (floods, drought), which result i.a. in a loss of livelihood opportunities and high food prices in the affected regions. Prevailing malnutrition provides favourable conditions for the spread of infectious diseases (in 2009 e.g. cholera in Zimbabwe and meningitis in Western Africa), including newly emerging threats such as the H1N1 pandemics. This trend is further exacerbated by high demographic growth and insufficient response to the specific needs of women, children, people belonging to ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups.

Another factor are armed conflicts, increasing the number of refugees and internally displaced persons fully and lastingly dependent on humanitarian aid (2009 saw large movements of IDPs in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen). Ethnic, tribal and religious tensions throw countries and regions into political and administrative turmoil (the Horn of Africa, the African Great Lakes region), accompanied by massive violence against the civilian population, including brutal rapes of women (DR Congo).

The actors of these conflicts, including some governments, respect neither fundamental human rights, nor international humanitarian law and refugee rights. This means an   unacceptable narrowing of the humanitarian space combined with safety and security risks to humanitarian workers and, quite often, the eviction of humanitarian organizations from countries or regions (in 2009, most notably in Sudan). In addition to blocking the delivery of in-kind aid (mainly in Gaza), there are efforts to hinder the identification of real needs, the provision of humanitarian protection (Sudan, Sri Lanka) and the overall coordination of international humanitarian action (Afghanistan, Somalia).

The increased need to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers in unstable regions adds urgency to another serious challenge: to find the right proportion between a civil and military mission, between security, humanitarian action and development (namely Afghanistan/Pakistan).    

In responding to natural disasters, a specific problem remains the transition from acute aid to reconstruction, which should be combined with preventive measures. In areas such as DRR, climate change adjustment and sustainable development, it is necessary to enhance the synergy of humanitarian aid and development cooperation, including the implementation of the LRRD concept (Linking Relief, Recovery and Development).

In a time of economic and financial crisis, another challenge is to ensure sufficient humanitarian funding. In 2009 there were no major deficits i.a. thanks to the relatively small scope of natural disasters. However, cuts in the 2010 humanitarian aid budgets can be expected in the Czech Republic as well as other countries. An especially complicated funding area is DRR and climate change adjustment: it lies on the boundary between the humanitarian and development spheres, and requires the public and private sectors and international donors to cooperate with local communities and administrations. Underfunding is a lasting problem of the sanitary, education and agricultural sectors, and of the logistic services necessary for the distribution of humanitarian aid.

A fundamental challenge in humanitarian aid remains to ensure an expert, continuous and flexible identification of humanitarian needs followed by the allocation of resources and implementation of aid. In this context, the Czech Republic supports the efforts to build a global mechanism for peer assessment of needs in each crisis situation. Another open question in humanitarian aid is the evaluation of international humanitarian action and its reflection in future practice. 

Humanitarian needs

The primary tool for identifying global humanitarian needs is the UNOCHA Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP). The 2010 Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal was launched in Geneva on 30 November 2009. It addresses the humanitarian needs of 12 countries and regions (Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, DR Congo, Kenya, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Western Africa, Yemen, Zimbabwe). The combined funding requirements of UN and NGO projects total USD 7.13 billion. In terms of costs, Sudan retains the highest share (USD 1.878 million), followed by Afghanistan (871 million – an increase by 31% against 2009), DR Congo (828 million), Somalia (689 million), and Palestine (664 million). The steepest growth of needs is in Yemen (177 million required – a rise by 668%). In sectoral terms, the highest share is again taken by food aid (43%) and the need for humanitarian protection is growing (30%). The 2010 CAP document identifies the following main needs:

Country/region

2010 CAP

(millions USD)

Change 2009-10

(%)

Priorities Main appealing organizations
Afghanistan 871 + 31 Protection, food, shelter (IDPs, refugees, returnees) WFP, MACCA*, UNHCR
Chad 451 + 13 Food, water, IDP and refugee camps WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF, ACFx
DR Congo 828 - 13 Food, water, protection, shelter, healthcare (Province Orientale) unspecified
Yemen 177 + 668 Food, agriculture, refugee assistance WFP, UNHCR, WHO, UNICEF
Kenya 508 - 12 Services to refugees, food (Somali refugees, malnourished populations) WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF, FAO, IOM
Palestine 664 - 17 Food, cash-for-work, protection, water UNRWA, WFP, UNDP, UNICEF
Somalia 689 - 19 Food, protection, IDP facilities, healthcare WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF
Central African Republic 114 + 13 Nutrition, healthcare, protection, education  (IDPs, refugees) WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR, DRC
Sudan 1 878 - 11 Food, water, education, healthcare WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF, FAO, IOM
Uganda 197 - 20 Food, assistance to refugees and returnees, water, HIV/AIDS WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF, FAO, WHO
West Africa 369 - 9 Food, protection, coordination WFP. UNHCR, UNICEF, FAO
Zimbabwe 378 - 47 Agriculture, health, water, food UNICEF, WFP, IOM, FAO

* MACCA = UN Mine Action Coordination Centre Afghanistan

xACF = UN Air Cargo Facilities Income Fund

 

The International Red Cross (ICRC) also issued its 2010 humanitarian appeal (Headquarters Appeal – CHF 173 million, Emergency Appeals – CHF 983 million) in late November 2009. The appeal sums up the funding requirements of operations addressing namely the situation of IDPs and refugees in countries affected by conflicts. The ICRC has identified growing requirements mainly in Afghanistan, DR Congo, Somalia and Yemen; the requirements remain high in Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan and Palestine. Protection takes up 19% of the ICRC budget, non-food aid 58% and preventive measures 14%.  

Another source of well-founded analysis of global and local humanitarian needs is DG ECHO. Its Operational Strategy 2010 identifies the following horizontal priorities: respect for international humanitarian law and the humanitarian space; DRR and strengthening the coping capacities of the affected countries; LRRD; military vs. humanitarian missions; food aid.

In geographic terms, DG ECHO identifies complex emergencies (namely the Horn of Africa, Sudan, Western Africa, Zimbabwe) and "forgotten crises" (namely refugees belonging to ethnic minorities and IDPs in Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Yemen, Kenya, Sahel and Colombia). 54% of the DG ECHO humanitarian budget is earmarked for Africa, 16% for Asia and 14% for the Middle East. In sectoral terms, DG ECO identifies a growing need for food aid namely in Sub-Saharan Africa (27% of the budget), the need for basic infrastructure for refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in a number of African countries and in Colombia; in addition, part of the budget (10%) is earmarked for DRR in disaster-prone regions (Western and Eastern Africa, Central and South-Eastern Asia, the Caucasus, Central America).

4. Czech humanitarian assistance in 2010

Humanitarian budget distribution

In 2010, CZK 73 million will be available for humanitarian assistance (not counting compulsory and voluntary contributions). Despite a 14% decline in allocated resources, the Czech humanitarian aid funding will continue the positive trend of 2009.

In 2010 NGOs will again be invited to apply for subsidies for humanitarian aid projects in countries affected by complex crises. The call for applications will be announced on 15 December 2009; the subsidies should be disbursed to selected applicants in the first half of April 2010. To maintain the continuity of aid in situations where humanitarian needs persist, the 2010 call for applications will be restricted to projects implemented in the same countries as in 2009, i.e. in the Horn of Africa countries, DR Congo, Burma/Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

 

In addition, the humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe, for which no resources were available in 2009, will be provided in the first quarter of 2010. The contribution to Quick Impact Projects (QIP) in Afghanistan is also expected to get an approval in the first quarter. In the second quarter, a portion of the humanitarian budget will be dedicated to CAP priority projects, namely in countries not covered by the projects selected under the call for applications. 

As part of the Operational Strategy, a mid-term review of spending from the humanitarian budget will be undertaken in July 2010. Depending on the results of the review and the available funds, the funding in the third quarter will go to humanitarian organizations and funds not receiving voluntary contributions, as well as to humanitarian activities in DRR and compensation for climate change (e.g. a contribution to the IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund – DREF).

In terms of countries/regions, systematic attention will be paid namely to the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan (including regional humanitarian needs), Burma/Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Gaza and Sub-Saharan Africa. Funding for acute humanitarian needs in regions affected by natural disasters will be provided on an ad hoc basis throughout the year, including possible follow-up funding for reconstruction projects in countries affected by natural disasters in 2009 (Indonesia, the Philippines, Central America).  

            Preliminary distribution of the humanitarian budget - summary:

Period Share in humanitarian aid budget Amount (CZK) Use
Q1 25 % 18 million NGOs: Horn of Africa, DR Congo, Burma/Myanmar, Sri Lanka
Q2 25 % 18 million

CAP 2010: Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Uganda

(Priority sector: protection, IDPs, returnees)

Q1 – Q2 10% 7.5 million Afghanistan (QIP, HALO Trust), Zimbabwe (ICRC)
Q3* 20% 15 million

CERF/ CAP2010

(UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP)

Q3-Q4* 5 – 10% 3.75 – 7.5 million DRR activities (DREF)

* - In the light of the mid-term review of the humanitarian situation and the spending from the humanitarian aid budget

Legislative changes

A new Act concerning foreign development cooperation and humanitarian aid provided abroad (FDC Act) should be passed and brought into force in 2010. This legislation will open up new possibilities for humanitarian aid. Most importantly, the financial limit for individual humanitarian aid actions that may be authorized by the Foreign Minister will be raised from CZK 5 million to CZK 10 million - however, in 2010 this new limit is not likely to be used in full, due to the total amount of the budget. Another change is that starting from 2011, multi-annual funding will be more easily accessible, namely for projects selected under the calls for applications. As regards organizational aspects, it is important that the new legislation draws a clear dividing line between the competences of the Foreign Ministry (humanitarian aid) and the Interior Ministry (crisis management).

The need for coherence between humanitarian aid and development cooperation will be reflected in the new Foreign Development Cooperation Policy Concept of the Czech Republic, which is to be approved in the first half of 2010. Coherence between humanitarian aid and foreign development cooperation will be a major concern namely in areas such as   climate change and DRR, safety and security, as well as development and LRRD, especially in "fragile" states. In practice, this will require coordination, communication as well as coherent funding and coherent projects. In geographic terms, coherence between humanitarian aid and foreign development cooperation will be significant e.g. in planning to phase in or phase out cooperation with the existing or new priority countries. In sectoral terms, coherence will be important in the area of social development (in the broad sense, encompassing education, health and social welfare, including gender issues), the environment and agriculture (coherence of urgent aid and measures promoting food sustainability). Transparency and coherence will also be enhanced in the relationship between Czech humanitarian aid and transition cooperation. The common aspects of humanitarian aid, foreign development cooperation and transition cooperation will receive much attention in the upcoming OECD/DAC admission process as well as in the context of evaluations.

In 2010 the new working party set up by the interministerial Development Cooperation Council will develop a framework for consideration of DG ECHO proposals for humanitarian aid and disaster prevention funding (global plans, ad hoc funding decisions, DIPECHO action plans) and for the spending of European Commission funds to build the capacities of non-governmental as well as international humanitarian organizations.

The EU´s humanitarian aid system will see some changes as a result of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty which entered into force on 1 December 2009. Article 214 of the Treaty requires that the Union´s operations in the field of humanitarian aid should be conducted within the framework of the principles and objectives of the external action of the Union (defined in Article 21); the Union´s measures and those of the Member States should complement and reinforce each other. Increased emphasis is thus placed on coordination and complementarity of humanitarian action within the EU. In the longer run, changes can be expected to the HAC approval processes (comitology) and possibly to the COHAFA agenda (influence by the Presidency vs. by the High Representative).

Conclusion

Measured by the volume of funds, the Czech Republic ranks among smaller donors. However, this is all the more reason to ensure that Czech humanitarian aid responds to specific needs in a timely and transparent manner consistent with international commitments, and to advocate qualified and active humanitarian aid policies within the UN, EU and other international institutions and contexts.

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