Missing Pieces

Assessing the impact of humanitarian reform in Pakistan

Publication date: 2 October 2009

The displacement of more than three million people in Pakistan has triggered one of the biggest emergency responses of the year. Oxfam International's latest report - Missing Pieces? Assessing the impact of humanitarian reform in Pakistan  - examines how far this response has lived up to global commitments for providing enough aid, in the right place and at the right time, in a way that is appropriate to the needs of crisis-affected people.
The report finds that four years after the launch of the UN-led humanitarian reform process, the humanitarian system in Pakistan appears to have made some progress in terms of mobilising effective and principled humanitarian action – but still falls far short of achieving the stated objectives of the reform process.
With regard to the scale and speed of the response, Oxfam’s analysis reveals that late and insufficient donor contributions prevented humanitarian agencies from responding on a scale that would have met the actual needs of affected communities. Some funding gaps persist today. Additionally, aid agencies have faced some challenges in terms of upholding their commitment to awarding aid purely on the basis of humanitarian need.

Key recommendations:

International donors, Pakistani  government, UN cluster lead agencies and other aid actors to improve humanitarian responses in Pakistan and elsewhere, calling for:

  • Faster, more flexible and adequate funding and disbursements to frontline aid actors – the initial donor response was very poor and fund disbursements through the UN system were too slow;
  • Greater commitment to needs-based responses, with more effective coordination mechanisms and common approaches for ensuring impartial humanitarian action;
  • Strong inter-cluster coordination to provide comprehensive programme recommendations on how to better analyse, assess and respond to out-of-camp IDP needs in current and future relief operations;
  • A radical rethink of standard assistance models in which cluster explicitly and regularly consider what type of assistance would be the most appropriate in each phase of a humanitarian response.

Additionally, the Pakistani government should take steps to improve this and future responses:

  • By establishing a national framework or policy for responding to internal displacement;
  • With UN and donor support, by strengthening district and provincial disaster management and coordination bodies.