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3 Danida’s Humanitarian Strategy and Funding

This chapter provides an overview of Danida’s humanitarian strategy (Section 3.1) and a summary of how humanitarian assistance is managed with Danida (Section 3.2). This is followed in Section 3.3 by a summary assessment of how Danish humanitarian funding was allocated between 2010 and 2014, with a more detailed portfolio analysis included in Annex E. It is important to note that at the time of conducting the portfolio analysis figures were only available for 2010-13. While Section 3.3 has been partially updated to include figures from 2014 for the total annual allocation of Danish humanitarian funding as well as annual allocations to priority crises, the evaluation is based primarily on information from 2010-13.[5]

3.1 Danida’s Humanitarian Strategy

According to Danida’s Humanitarian Strategy, the objectives of Denmark’s humanitarian action are to:

  • save and protect lives
  • alleviate suffering
  • promote the dignity and rights of civilians in crisis situations
  • initiate recovery
  • build resilience to, and prevent, future crises by breaking the cycle between crises and vulnerability.

Through these objectives, Denmark aims to contribute to improving human security and reducing poverty.

The Strategy distinguishes between meeting the immediate and early recovery needs of those affected by natural disasters (and promoting disaster risk reduction (DRR)) on one hand, and responding to the needs of people affected by armed conflict (which includes supporting prevention, resilience and early recovery) on the other.

The Strategy outlines the following six strategic directions:

  • vulnerability
  • climate change and natural hazards
  • protecting conflict-affected populations
  • coordinated, principled and informed humanitarian action
  • strengthening partnerships
  • focus on results, innovation and communications.

Each strategic direction has a number of priorities, leading to a total of 47 strategic priorities. Partners have commended the strategy development process for its inclusivity and applauded the Strategy itself for its comprehensive coverage of the key issues raised by partners during consultations. However, the challenge is that the Strategy does not provide guidance on prioritising between issues (Kabell 2013). Section 4.1.1 further discusses the challenge of balancing inclusivity with strategic focus. Also, the Strategy does not include indicators or a results framework for monitoring implementation and measuring whether Danida has achieved the objectives.

3.2 Management of Danish humanitarian assistance

The Department for Humanitarian Action, Civil Society and Personnel Advisors (HCP) within the MFA in Copenhagen manages Danish humanitarian assistance. It reports to the Under-Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Development and through them to the Minister for Development and Trade. The annual Finance Bill outlines humanitarian funding by budget line. The head of department approves grants up to DKK 5 million while the Minister approves grants between DKK 5 and 35 million as well as the list of priority crises for humanitarian funding each year. Parliament needs to approve grants over DKK 35 million.

HCP receives support from other departments within the MFA. It commissions the Technical Advisory Service (UFT) to undertake capacity assessments of NGO partners as well as reviews of specific projects at field level. The quality assurance department (KVA) is tasked with overall financial management of Danish development assistance. While HCP has a finance officer, approval of all accounts and audits rests with finance staff in KVA. KVA staff members undertake announced visits to NGO partners every two to three years in order to check their finances. Although they could be part of the capacity assessments of NGO partners, Danida usually involves an external financial expert in the capacity assessments, so KVA assesses NGO partner finances at different times. KVA is also involved in the administrative section of HCP’s annual technical negotiations with NGO partners, providing input on audits and dealing with any cases of misappropriation.

The MFA has decentralised the management of development country programmes to embassies. The embassies and Danida staff in Copenhagen produce a country policy paper that provides an overview of all forms of engagement between Denmark and the country in question – development and humanitarian assistance, stabilisation funding, trade, etc. The embassies then develop a specific country programme document that focuses on the development assistance that they manage. HCP is consulted on the development of both the policy paper and programme document. It also engages the embassies in its annual technical negotiations with NGO partners (see Section 4.5 for further details of the engagement with embassies).

The Minister for Development and Trade is responsible to Parliament (and therefore the Danish public) for Danida’s humanitarian assistance. The government presents the Finance Bill, which includes details of Danida’s humanitarian funding, to Parliament each year so this is open to public scrutiny. To provide information on the use of aid funding for the purpose of both facilitating parliamentary insight and general public transparency, an open-access programme database was put in place, which is managed by Danida and into which Danida is responsible for inputting all data based on NGO and UN annual reports. However, the database is difficult to use so the government, in line with agreements in Busan in 2011, is working to make data on development and humanitarian funding more accessible.

3.3 Danida’s humanitarian funding

Danish humanitarian funding is part of the state’s annual budget, the Finance Bill. The budget for humanitarian funding is grouped together under humanitarian assistance activity code 06.39.03. This activity code is divided into two sub-lines – Strategic partnership agreements; and Other contributions to sudden and protracted humanitarian crises. Danida used to finance the Regions of Origin Initiative separately from the humanitarian budget but merged this with its regular humanitarian funding in 2012, with implementation starting in 2013.

While the core humanitarian budget has been stable at around DKK 1.5 billion per year, it is usually increased due to budget adjustment processes within the MFA. The Finance Bill team undertakes a budget adjustment process four times a year. This tends to result in additional allocations to the humanitarian budget because HCP disburses a substantial portion of the budget very early in the year to its partners through the framework agreements and is able to absorb funds unspent by other budget lines. In addition to this, a reserve is put aside to allow for response to new humanitarian emergencies during the year. In 2014, HCP had committed a significant proportion of its budget early in the year so it received an additional DKK 250 million, approved by the Parliamentary Finance Committee in September 2014. Supplementary allocations from other budget lines and from the general reserve brought the total amount of funding in 2014 to DKK 2.241 billion.

Danida began to develop a longer-term partnership approach with a limited number of humanitarian organisations in 2010. It undertook capacity assessments of five potential Danish NGO partners in 2011 in order to identify suitable candidates. It established the first Humanitarian Partnership Agreements with the Danish Red Cross and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in 2011, while DanChurchAid and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) followed in 2012. Danida currently has eight NGO partners: ADRA, Caritas, DanChurchAid, Danish Red Cross, Danish Refugee Council, Mission East, MSF and Save the Children Denmark. In addition, it has strategic relationships with five UN agencies: the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP). It also has a strategic relationship with the ICRC while channelling funding through the Danish Red Cross. Furthermore, Danida has a framework agreement with the Danish Emergency Management Agency that includes pre-positioned funding so that it can deploy personnel and equipment quickly to respond to sudden-onset natural disasters.

The Humanitarian Partnership Agreements with the NGOs comprise two amounts of funding: framework funding that the partners can use for programmes in a selected number of priority crises; and flexible funds that partners can use to respond quickly to a new emergency, including outside the priority crises. UNHCR also has DKK 50 million as an Emergency Response Fund that it can use to respond to acute emergencies.[6]

In line with the EU directive on competitive tendering, Danida allocates humanitarian funding to NGOs outside the framework agreements on the basis of a competitive call for proposals. It publishes criteria with which the NGOs need to comply and then scores proposals against the criteria in order to allocate funding. Danida has phased out funding to non-partner NGOs so they do not receive humanitarian funding except in a few very well argued cases. Therefore, only framework partner NGOs can apply for the special calls for proposals, thereby limiting Danida’s choice of partners.

Danish humanitarian funding 2010-14

Between 2010 and 2014, Denmark provided approximately DKK 9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance. Table 2 breaks this down by annual allocations for the period and shows an increase of 47% in humanitarian funding from DKK 1.5 billion in 2010 to DKK

2.2 billion in 2014. Over the same period the total Danish development assistance has remained more or less stable, ranging from DKK 15.5 to 17 billion. Therefore, humanitarian assistance as a share of total assistance has increased from 9 to 13%.

Table 2: Annual allocations

Year Amount
(DKK billion)
2010 1.5
2011 1.7
2012 1.7
2013 2.1
2014 2.2
Total 9.2

Figure 3: Recipients of Danish humanitarian funding by category

The recipients of Danish humanitarian funding can be divided into five main categories: (1) UN agencies, (2) NGOs, (3) Government agencies,[7] (4) Red Cross Movement and the Danish Red Cross, and (5) policy initiatives. Figure 3 shows the amount of funding by category of partner. The distribution between the different types of recipients has been relatively stable since Danida strives to maintain a balance of funding across partners. Table B in Annex E shows that Danida channelled approximately 60% of its humanitarian funding through the UN between 2010 and 2013 and around 25% of its funding through NGOs. Other DAC donors also channel around 60% of their humanitarian assistance through multilateral organisations, primarily the UN (including the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and country-based pooled funds). However, Danida provides more funding to NGOs than the DAC average (25 versus 19%). WFP and UNHCR have been the largest single recipients of Danida’s funding, following by the DRC and OCHA.

Danida provides a substantial amount of its funding as core contributions to UN agencies and contributions to pooled funds managed by OCHA – the CERF and country-based pooled funds (Common Humanitarian Funds (CHFs) and Emergency Response Funds (ERFs)). This highly flexible funding increased between 2010 and 2012 before decreasing slightly in 2013. Table 3 below sets out Danida’s core contributions to international organisations (UN agencies and ICRC) and funding to the pooled funds. Over the 2010-13 period, Danida provided almost 40% of its funding as core funding to international organisations or contributions to pooled funds.[8]

Table 3: Core contributions to international organisations and pooled funds (DKK million)
Organisation 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total
WFP 155 185 185 185 710
UNHCR 130 130 160 160 580
UNRWA 70 70 90 90 320
OCHA 20 20 30 30 100
ICRC 20 20 20 20 80
CERF 60 50 131 135 376
CHFs and ERFs 87 95 156 116 454
Total 542 570 772 736 2,620

Table 4 (below) provides an overview of Danida’s humanitarian funding to priority crises between 2010 and 2014. By focusing on crises rather than countries, Danida supports not only the countries in which crises are occurring but also affected communities and refugees in neighbouring countries (for example the Syria crisis, which forms one of the evaluation case studies). As the table demonstrates, nearly 60% of Denmark’s humanitarian assistance was allocated to priority crisis situations in 2013 and 2014 (54% of total allocations for 2010-14). The top five crises supported between 2010 and 2014 were Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, Somalia and Sudan, for which over two-thirds of the prioritised crisis funds was allocated. In addition, as noted above, Danida provides partners with flexible funds to respond to crises outside of the priority crises (for further details see Annex E).

Danida also has a part of the humanitarian budget available for acute emergencies outside the priority crises. It was able to use this, for example, to respond to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and to the conflict-related emergency in the Central African Republic. HCP maintains an emergency reserve fund in order to respond to new emergencies that might occur at the end of the year. In the first half of December, it conducts a detailed analysis to identify under-funded crises, which includes examining European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department’s (ECHO) Global Vulnerability and Crisis Assessment Index. HCP then obtains permission from the Minister for the allocation of the emergency reserve if it does not need to use it for a new crisis. If there is no emergency as of 30 December, the funding is disbursed to international organisations according to the agreed plan since this does not require additional grant agreements.

Table 4: Funding allocated to priority crises (DKK million)[9]
  Crisis 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Total % Allocated
1 Afghanistan crisis including Pakistan and Iran 45 222 143 267 108 785 16
2 South Sudan crisis including Uganda and Ethiopia 156 43 181 152 233 764 15
3 Syria crisis including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey 0 1 124 330 307 763 15
4 Somalia crisis including Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen 122 275 100 119 133 748 15
5 Sudan crisis including Chad and South Sudan 27 69 132 121 55 404 8
6 Pakistan crisis 126 42 45 27 20 259 5
7 Mano River crisis covering Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast (Mano River)[10] 0 74 11 26 131 243 5
8 Palestine crisis 27 35 21 40 63 183 4
9 Mali crisis including Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso 0 0 47 76 59 181 4
10 Yemen crisis 5 11 33 23 40 170 3
11 Myanmar crisis including Thailand 12 20 42 41 40 154 3
12 Ethiopia crisis[11] 28 89 0 0 5 123 2
13 Iraq crisis including Jordan 12 55 25 9 70 111 2
14 Central African Republic crisis including Cameroon 0 0 0 34 61 95 2
  Total amount allocated 560 936 904 1,230 1,307 4,937  
Total unallocated 915 717 826 871 946 4,275  
% allocated of total 38% 57% 52% 59% 58% 54%  

As the portfolio analysis in Annex E explains, data on the allocation of funding to specific elements of the Humanitarian Strategy – for example, gender-sensitive approaches, protection against gender-based violence (GBV), disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience – is only available to a limited extent on the Danida and OCHA funding databases, due to a lack of specificity in the sectoral allocation of interventions. Therefore, it is not possible to assess the allocation of funds to the strategy objectives.

[5] The portfolio analysis in Annex E has not been updated to include 2014 figures and remains an analysis of funding from 2010-13.

[6] According to Denmark’s humanitarian partnership framework agreement with UNHCR, the latter will not allocate less than USD 1 million from the Fund. UNHCR can allocate between USD 1 and 2.5 million without consulting Danida but inform it once it has made a decision. UNHCR must consult Danida before allocating amounts over USD 2.5 million.

[7] The term government agencies refers to government departments dealing with refugees in Afghanistan and Kenya as well as Beredskabsstyrelsen in Denmark.

[8] The total amount of core contributions to UN organisations is less than the total contributions to the UN as shown in Figure 4 because not all funding is provided as core contributions. Some funding is provided to UN organisations that do not receive any core funding and funding is also provided to specific country programmes, emergency appeals, specific programmes such as risk management, education and other specific sectoral or thematic programmes.

[9] Note that this includes funding to UN agencies as well as NGO funding.

[10] In the process of being phased out.

[11] In the process of being phased out.


This page forms part of the publication "Evaluation of the strategy for Danish humanitarian action 2010-2015 – Synthesis report – Evaluation 2015.01" as chapter 3 of 5.
Version no. 1.0, 2015-05-13
Publication may be found at the address http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/15_evaluation_2015_01/index.html