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A bleak outlook for global humanitarian funding in 2024


If you ask humanitarian aid groups how it's going these days, they'll tell you they're facing a big problem. There are just too many ongoing crises in the world and not enough funding to help those in need. As NPR's Gabriel Spitzer reports, many aid groups say they aren't expecting this funding shortfall to change anytime soon.

GABRIEL SPITZER, BYLINE: Each year, the United Nations appeals to its member states for money to respond to crises around the world, things like emergency food aid and temporary shelter. Last year, it got just 40% of the donations it requested. This year, the U.N. asked for less, not because the needs have decreased but because they're expecting another year of belt-tightening.

LESLIE ARCHAMBEAULT: I think the outlook for humanitarian funding globally is pretty bad right now.

SPITZER: Leslie Archambeault directs humanitarian policy at Save the Children U.S.

ARCHAMBEAULT: I am pretty concerned. I think everybody is very concerned.

SPITZER: The U.N. estimates that 300 million people are in need of aid. That's grown as ongoing conflicts stack up in Sudan, Myanmar and elsewhere.

ARCHAMBEAULT: I live in fear of opening up my email every morning, and what else has happened that is going to kind of make things worse. And just to be quite frank, the system is really not set up to respond to some of these crises that last a decade.

SPITZER: Humanitarian funding tends to be short term and limited in what it can pay for. Kate Katch (ph) is a practitioner fellow at the University of Virginia and a former humanitarian affairs officer at the U.N.

KATE KATCH: At the end of the day, we have to look at longer-term solutions as opposed to just leaving it to the humanitarians to try and keep putting Band-Aids on the problem.

SPITZER: Aid groups are preparing for what may be the leanest year since 2010. Katch says the funding shortfall is already affecting people.

KATCH: It's very tangible. There's more risk of starvation. Food rations have to be halved. People get more waterborne diseases. It's really important for people to understand how destitute it is for a lot of these communities when the funding doesn't come in.

SPITZER: Katch and others say preventing these crises will depend on investments that international development groups can make, but humanitarian responders cannot. Gabriel Spitzer, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Gabriel Spitzer
Gabriel Spitzer (he/him) is Senior Editor of Short Wave, NPR's daily science podcast. He comes to NPR following years of experience at Member stations – most recently at KNKX in Seattle, where he covered science and health and then co-founded and hosted the weekly show Sound Effect. That show told character-driven stories of the region's people. When the Pacific Northwest became the first place in the U.S. hit by COVID-19, the show switched gears and relaunched as Transmission, one of the country's first podcasts about the pandemic.