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Study Notes

Overseas Aid and Development: Humanitarian Aid

GCSE, AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 1 Feb 2023

This short study note looks at humanitarian aid. In 2020, global humanitarian aid reached a record high of $34.3 billion, an increase of 7% from the previous year. The largest portions of this aid went to support crisis-affected populations in the Middle East and Africa, where the highest levels of need were seen.

Humanitarian aid is assistance provided to individuals, communities, or populations affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other crises, with the aim of alleviating human suffering and saving lives. Humanitarian aid can take the form of food, shelter, medical supplies, or other necessities, and may also include longer-term support for recovery and rehabilitation.

Examples of countries that have received significant amounts of humanitarian aid include:

  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • South Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Bangladesh, where large numbers of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have fled to the country
  • Haiti, which has been struck by natural disasters, including earthquakes and hurricanes, and has received significant amounts of humanitarian aid to address the needs of those affected
  • These are just a few examples of countries that have received significant amounts of humanitarian aid. Humanitarian crises and the need for aid can arise anywhere in the world, and the response to these crises depends on the resources and capacities of the affected countries, as well as the international community.

What are the economic risks from giving humanitarian aid to countries?

While providing humanitarian aid to countries can have many positive impacts, there are also some economic risks associated with it. Some of the key economic risks from giving humanitarian aid to countries are:

  1. Dependence on aid: Receiving significant amounts of aid over a long period of time can lead to a dependency culture, where countries become reliant on external support and are less able to develop their own economies.
  2. Displacement of local businesses: Humanitarian aid can sometimes lead to the displacement of local businesses and the informal economy, which can have a negative impact on local economies.
  3. Inadequate targeting: Humanitarian aid may not always reach the people who need it most, as it may be misdirected, stolen, or otherwise misused. This can lead to corruption, ineffective use of resources, and dissatisfaction among the intended beneficiaries.
  4. Limited impact on long-term development: While humanitarian aid can have a positive impact in the short term, it may not necessarily lead to long-term development and sustainability, especially if it is not accompanied by other forms of support, such as investment and technical assistance.

In conclusion, it is important to ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered in a way that minimizes these economic risks and maximizes its positive impacts. This can be done through better targeting and coordination of aid, a focus on local ownership and self-reliance, and efforts to build

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