European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Grand Bargain

© European Union 2018 (photo by Peter Biro)
What is it?

The world's major humanitarian donors and aid organisations signed the Grand Bargain during the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. The agreement aims to improve the way humanitarian aid is delivered by making it more effective and more efficient. The goal is to reach more people in need and spend less money on administration and overheads. In order to reach this goal, humanitarian donors and aid organisations have formulated 51 shared commitments to guide their actions.

Why is this important?

While humanitarian needs are increasing all over the world, international humanitarian funding is not growing fast enough to keep up with rising demands. The way humanitarian aid is delivered must therefore become more effective and efficient in order to tackle these new challenges and address humanitarian needs.

The 59 signatories to the Grand Bargain (including international humanitarian donors, UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, non-governmental organisations, and local partners) have been working together on their shared commitments to make humanitarian assistance more efficient. The Grand Bargain covers topics that reflect long-standing demands in the humanitarian landscape and takes on board challenges faced by both donors and humanitarian organisations. These include increased transparency; scaling-up of cash programmes; harmonised reporting to reduce bureaucracy; multi-annual funding and reduced earmarking; joint needs assessments and increased coordination with local responders as well as with development actors.

Given the limited humanitarian funding available, an improved response will ultimately result in more resources reaching people affected by man-made and natural disasters.

How are we helping?

As a major global humanitarian donor, the European Commission, through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) department, is at the forefront of the discussion and implementation of the Grand Bargain commitments.

From 1 October 2016 to 31 August 2017, the European Commission was a key member of the first Grand Bargain facilitation group. The facilitation group was established to provide continued momentum to the Grand Bargain process, including through coordination and information sharing, and by organising the annual Grand Bargain meeting.

Together with UN OCHA, the European Commission is a co-convener of the workstream on Joint and Impartial Needs Assessments, which aims to ensure that the needs assessment process is coordinated, impartial, collaborative, and fully transparent. Under its Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) instrument, the European Commission has also supported a number of initiatives to strengthen coordinated and impartial needs assessments in support of the workstream action plan.  

The European Commission is also actively involved in other Grand Bargain workstreams and is looking at how to make its own internal processes more effective and efficient. For instance, the European Commission is:

  • Enhancing its engagement with development actors: While humanitarian aid is crucial in the aftermath of an emergency, development cooperation offers long-term solutions to structural problems. By working together, humanitarian and development actors can improve the living conditions of the world's most vulnerable people, increase their resilience and thereby shrink humanitarian needs over the long term.
  • Stepping up cooperation with local partners: Local and national NGOs are valuable partners in crisis-affected contexts: they are often the first to respond when a disaster strikes; they are a part of the local communities and they are more perceptive of the local cultural and political dynamics in which they operate. Increasing financial support to local partners and developing their competencies for better preparedness, faster response and resilience-building will improve the way we deliver humanitarian aid.
  • Increasing its proportion of multi-annual funding: Multi-annual funding ensures predictability of funding from donors to implementing organisations, increases flexibility and decreases the administrative burden while allowing for longer-term planning. The European Commission has started piloting this approach. 
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