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Ebola conference: Past recovery conferences show gloomy track record for disaster-hit countries

9th Jul 2015

Rich countries have paid out less than half the amount they originally pledged to help countries recover from a snapshot of three major humanitarian crises, according to Oxfam.

Oxfam looked at data from three recovery pledging conferences since 2007 and found the average pay-out of financial promises stands at just 47 percent. At these conferences, the level of need and how much it would cost to tackle the problems was clearly set out.  Donors should be able to make an informed decision before they put down a figure - yet rich countries still fail far too often to honour their commitments. 

Oxfam's Director of Aid Effectiveness, Gregory Adams, said: "We see a stark systematic pattern of failure. Each of the three pledging conferences we looked into has fallen short. Donors have scored full marks in only one area - broken promises,"

These findings come as the international Ebola recovery pledging conference begins in New York today. The governments of the three affected countries - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea - will set out their $7.2bn plans of how to become Ebola free and rebuild their countries over the next two years.

Adams said: "Rich countries pledge in haste but deliver at leisure. When media attention moves from headline-grabbing figures, affected countries cannot afford donors to be so easily distracted."

"Behind every undelivered dollar is a vulnerable person suffering. Ebola is not yet over and we cannot afford to be complacent. There is still a long way to go until these countries can begin to fully recover. Donors need to ensure their money gets to these people quickly, and that communities know how much is available and how it will be spent."

Rich countries promised $16.4 billion in three recent major pledging conferences for recovery and reconstruction between 2007 and 2014 but have so far only paid out $7.7 billion. Following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, 11 of the 47 donor countries have not delivered any money from the amount they promised and a further 10 sent less than 50 percent of their pledge.

Nine months after the 2014 'Reconstructing Gaza' conference in Cairo, eight of the 46 countries that promised aid there have yet to part with any money at all.

This below par track record should jolt donors awake to honour their promises and deliver full, timely funding to support the recovery of Ebola-hit countries. The money is vital to help affected nations build themselves well-resourced health facilities, improved water and sanitation, and train more community health workers. At the heart of getting to zero Ebola cases and beyond are communities themselves - it is vital that local people play a key part in healthcare plans and decisions moving forward.

Governments have the leading responsibility to spend donations wisely so that the money goes where help is most needed. In support, donors need to be generous in their pledges, deliver the money quickly and publish information on their aid to ensure they hold themselves and the governments to account.

This week's conference is an opportunity for the international community to deliver on its promises to some of the world's most vulnerable people. Local communities, governments and donors should work together to make sure that the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have a strong voice in their own recovery.

Ends

Notes to the editor:

1. Methodology and pledging outcome table:
Three pledging conferences for recovery were looked at, covering seven years from 2007-2014. At each conference, a UN approved Post Disaster Needs Assessment and recovery plans were presented. These three conferences- Lebanon (2007), Haiti (2010) and Gaza (2014) - were chosen because reporting mechanisms were available from which it was possible to track the status of pledged aid. This data was provided by external sources as listed below. The data was used to create a table covering all four conferences, listing pledges and disbursements, in order to calculate an overall disbursement percentage over the four conferences. Few pledging conference processes provide transparent ways to track how pledges are turned into money delivered to the affected country.



 
Appeal   Pledges (USD)  Disbursed (USD)  % Disbursed
 Lebanon

 7,534,000,000





 3,698,000,000



 49.1%
 Haiti

 5,373,400,000





 3,007,000,000



 56.0%
 Gaza

 3,512,000,000





 967,000,000



 27.5%
 Total

 16,419,400,000





 7,670,000,000



 47%


 

List of conferences and data sources:

Lebanon:

International Conference for Support to Lebanon, Paris III, January 2007
Report from the Lebanese Ministry of Finance, available here

Haiti:

'Towards a New Future for Haiti', New York, March 2010
Data from the Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, available here

Gaza:

'Reconstructing Gaza', Cairo, October 2014
Data from the World Bank (as of 15 May), available here

2. According to the latest available WHO situation report, Sierra Leone confirmed eight new Ebola cases and Guinea had 12 in the week ending 28 June 2015. Ebola resurfaced in Liberia at the end of June, and as of 3 July the country has now confirmed a total of three new cases according to latest available WHO figures - the first to be reported since the country was declared Ebola free on 9 May 2015.

3. There is a need for affected countries in West Africa to get to zero cases before their recovery can get fully underway. It is crucial we do not relax too soon, as it only takes one new case to spark another 'infection hotspot'. Continued vigilance and increased emphasis on tracking down each actual and possible transmission are vital.

4. Improving the health systems of affected countries is also crucial to protect prone neighbouring countries such as Guinea Bissau, which has long been at risk. There has been a recent flare-up of Ebola cases just across the border in Guinea.

5. Oxfam has so far reached over 1.3 million people across West Africa through our preventative health work. We are working alongside communities to spread prevention messages, providing emergency water and sanitation to people in quarantined homes, schools and clinics, and boosting people's dwindling incomes of those whose livelihoods were destroyed by Ebola through cash support.