The SOHS 2015 evidenced that the 2012–2014 period was less about natural disasters, and more about conflict and chronic crises. Needs tended to accumulate as these new complex emergencies came in more quickly than older ones dropped off.
This edition assessed the performance of the humanitarian system in the period 2012–2014 by synthesising the findings of over 350 formal evaluations and other relevant documents, 340 key informant interviews and surveys of 1,271 aid practitioners and host-government officials and 1,189 aid recipients.
The study identified four types of humanitarian action (its core functions of responding to major sudden-onset emergencies and supporting populations in chronic crisis, as well as its less well defined roles of humanitarian advocacy and support for resilience) and looked at how well the system has performed based on standard evaluative criteria for humanitarian action (sufficiency/coverage, relevance/ appropriateness, effectiveness, connectedness, efficiency and coherence).
The SOHS 2015 showed that the price tag for responding to chronic crises got higher as these went on for years and assisted more people over time. This meant that the overall amount each aid recipient got dropped by over a quarter in the period studied.
Of the 58 countries that received assistance in 2014, 49 (84%) had received it every year for the last 5 years, and 40 (69%) were on their 10th straight year of receiving humanitarian aid.
The areas of aid that are key to fulfilling longer term needs had the least funding in this period. Protection was funded at only around 30% of the stated requirement in 2013. This, despite the fact that in 2014 the humanitarian system reached its highest funding level yet, peaking at over $20 billion.
Although four out of five of the 4480 humanitarian organisations are national NGOs, they are rarely the recipients of direct funding. Most of their funding is received indirectly by partnering with international NGOs.
On the affected people front, the SOHS 2015 suggested that they feel they don't play a big enough part in responses: 44% of aid recipients surveyed were not consulted on their needs by aid agencies prior to the start of their programmes. 53% of affected people were satisfied with the speed at which aid arrived and 33% said they had been consulted on their needs, but 20% of those consulted said agency had acted on this feedback and made changes.
The study suggested that the humanitarian system had in many ways reached its limits and a combination of more resources, continued incremental improvements and radical thinking was needed to make the system more flexible and adaptable.