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Changing the humanitarian financing model for more effective assistance

Blog Post

At the Start Network we are constantly working towards changing the approaches to humanitarian assistance to proactively manage crises more effectively. 

These include initiatives such as anticipation and forecast-based action which promotes early intervention before a crisis actually hits; and innovative insurance pilots that can release funding at scale to fund pre-agreed plans.

Now we are embarking on a new initiative – an exploration into a financing facility that will act as an aggregator platform, providing a range of funding options to support frontline humanitarian responders to get ahead crises.

In preparation for designing this facility we recently outsourced a situational analysis of current financial flows within the humanitarian sector. The aim of this piece of work was to assist in addressing three major research questions, now the subject of individual papers released today:

  1. What funding streams exist that may be relevant to a financing facility?
  2. What are the gaps in the humanitarian financing landscape that could be met by a financing facility?
  3. How does the Start Fund caseload compare to the wider humanitarian funding landscape?

This work has alerted us to two important findings. Firstly, that there are potential sources of funds for such a financing initiative, especially if it is angled towards climate and development concerns; and secondly, that there are significant gaps in current financing system – gaps that the Start Network can fill as it is already effective at channelling funding in this way.

The three gaps relate to predictability, severity and timing.

The analysis suggests that funding is reactive and not pre-planned (despite at least half of crises being predictable); targeted at more severe events (despite evidence to suggest significant needs in smaller scale and under the radar events), and dominated by post-event response (despite best practice pointing towards the importance of preparedness and anticipation).

The Start Network is in an ideal position to address these needs as it is already focusing its efforts on a smaller scale and under the radar events; early action and risk financing approaches, such as ARC replica; and more timely responses. Already most of the Start Fund alerts are received within 4 weeks of crises onset.

The findings from these research papers suggest that there is both a need and an opportunity for a new approach to financing humanitarian assistance.

Over the last 6 months, the Start Network has been working with its members, local partners, donors and advisors to design what this financing facility should look like. By early 2020 we hope to have the first prototype.

It is time to move away from the “begging bowl” model to one where financing is based on humanitarian need and can better serve communities affected by crises. The Start Network aims to be the driver of this change.


Read more about the Start Finance Facility

Keep reading:

Start Financing Facility

  • by Helen Guyatt