Ploumen: major steps have been taken to improve the efficiency of emergency aid

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen is enthusiastic about agreements that have been made at the World Humanitarian Summit to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency aid. ‘The agreements concluded here in Istanbul between donor countries and aid organisations are a good basis for enhancing and expediting our support to millions of people in need,’ said the minister. ‘We’ve taken some major steps today.’

At the initiative of the United Nations, governments, aid organisations, businesses and NGOs have come together to consider the future of humanitarian aid. This is the first meeting to bring such a broad spectrum of stakeholders to the table. It is necessary because there have never been so many refugees and displaced persons since the end of the Second World War. Worldwide, 60 million refugees are dependent on emergency aid, while the aid funding gap is estimated by the UN at $20 billion a year. ‘To bridge this gap, we not only need more money, but a greater degree of efficiency and innovation,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘This means squeezing more value out of every euro spent by governments or private individuals.’

The new agreements on increased efficiency, which are collectively known as the ‘Grand Bargain’, entail closer cooperation between aid organisations with regard to planning and cost-sharing, for example when it comes to purchasing. A greater role will be given to local organisations, which often have a better sense of the situation on the ground. In addition, refugees will increasingly be given cash instead of traditional food packages. Another innovative measure is that aid organisations will now be able to keep 30% of their budget unearmarked, deciding for themselves which people in which parts of the world are most urgently in need of help. At the same time, these organisations will now be expected to provide much greater transparency on their spending, so that donors will have a better idea of where and how their money is being spent. ‘With more than 30 parties, from a wide range of backgrounds, it was not easy to get everyone on the same page,’ the minister remarked. ‘But because everyone realised that things had to change and because we understood that millions of people were depending on us, we managed to reach an agreement.’

The Grand Bargain was shaped by the UN, the EU, a number of donor countries and leading aid organisations. The Netherlands kicked off the initiative in Amsterdam and has remained closely involved with it up to the current breakthrough. ‘As a country that has always been in the global top ten of most generous humanitarian aid donors, we have a duty to play a clear role in determining how this aid can be better spent, so that more people can receive the support they so desperately need,’ Ms Ploumen said.