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Tsunami and Haiti: good practice in non-state funding
January - June 2010

As was the case with the tsunami of 2004, the recent earthquake in Haiti was another disaster which illustrated the increasing participation of the private sector in funding humanitarian responses both as a percentage and in absolute terms in relation to the total donations received. In parallel, non-state funding platforms have emerged in a certain number of western countries. In order to take stock of experiences so far, Groupe URD conducted a study to highlight the opportunities and risks involved in this type of mechanism and discuss what a “French” mechanism might be.

The two major natural disasters of the first decade of the 21st century led to unprecedented donations from the general public. In response to this phenomenon, non-state funding platforms were created in western countries to collect and redistribute these private funds in the most appropriate way possible. Though different types of non-state funding platforms exist in other European countries (D.E.C., Chaine du Bonheur…), no mechanism has received unanimous support from the humanitarian sector. Different forms have been tested, some of them very uncommon, like the Asie Enfants Isolés (A.E.I.) collective during the tsunami of 2004 or others like the key role played by the Fondation de France following the Haiti earthquake.

The increase in the number of platforms and repeated natural disasters on this scale raise the question of good practice in this area. Though governments have recently clarified rules and good practice for the funding of humanitarian aid (Principles and good practice of humanitarian donorship, signed in Stockholm in 2003) and though NGOs are subject to controls and regular evaluations, there have never been rules and recognised good practice for non-state mechanisms.

It was with this in mind that Groupe URD conducted this study which aimed to identify a certain number of good practices, by analysing how different non-state funding platforms (e.g. Collectif A.E.I., F.D.F., D.E.C. and Chaine du Bonheur) functioned after the tsunami and the Haiti earthquake. These good practices then served as the basis for analysis of the future risks and opportunities of these different types of mechanism.

The study included four distinct phases between January and June 2010:

  • During the first phase a desk review was carried out on the subject of funding platforms essentially in Europe.
  • During the second phase the desk review was complemented by interviews with key humanitarian actors: representatives of the platforms, of public authorities and of various NGOs. Care was taken to choose a broad range of NGOs to ensure that a wide variety of opinions was taken into account.
  • The third phase involved summarising the information which had been gathered with the aim of establishing a comparative analysis of different platforms and outlining the ‘fundamentals’ of good practice for non-state funding of humanitarian aid.
  • Finally, on 3 June 2010, a workshop was organised, which was attended by 20-30 participants, during which the report was presented and discussed and ideas were put forward for the creation of a “French” mechanism.