Early Recovery refers to “an approach that addresses recovery needs that arise during the humanitarian phase of an emergency; using humanitarian mechanisms that align with development principles. It enables people to use the benefits of humanitarian action to seize development opportunities, build resilience, and establish a sustainable process of recovery from crisis“. The Early Recovery Cluster was led by UNDP, as seen in this diagram, and Early Recovery Clusters and Sectors existed, and still do, in a number of contexts.
However, an Evaluation of the Global Early Recovery Sector in 2018 noted the declining relevance of the sector. The evaluation notes that “the concept of Early Recovery and the legitimacy of a dedicated Early Recovery Cluster have not taken hold. Despite significant efforts by the [Global Cluster for Early Recovery – GCER] over more than a decade, the concept of Early Recovery is still not clear to many stakeholders and the humanitarian community at the country level has not accepted it fully”. The Early Recovery sector has also struggled from the issue of interpretation. What is an ‘Early Recovery’ activity and what is not? As a 2010 ODI report noted, everything from income generating activities in the Agriculture sector, to building education infrastructure, to road rehabilitation in Logistics could be seen as Early Recovery. In addition, at the time of writing, there is no GCER website anymore (an archived version can be found here).
Everything on this page regarding the funding trends of Early Recovery needs to be seen in the context of this declining visibility of the sector.
How much funding is the Early Recovery sector forecast to receive in 2023?
Funding to the Early Recovery sector is forecast to be between $441m and $578m in 2023. Our central estimate is $501m. For reference, the Early Recovery sector received $258m last year.
This forecast is based on our 95% probability range. In other words, we are 95% sure that funding will be between $441m and $578m. Below are the other forecast ranges for the Early Recovery sector. As we become less sure about our forecast, the range narrows. So for example, we think there’s a 50% probability that funding will be between $476m and $528m.
But we need to put this into context. What does the forecast mean in terms of reaching the funding that is required for the sector (also known as the funding requirement)? The total funding requirement globally is determined by how much is needed in each context. If you hover over the donut below you’ll be able to see the chances of reaching 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the funding that is required.
We think that there’s a remote chance that the sector will receive 50% of what is required, let alone more. The funding requirement is $2.1bn, thus making it near impossible to reach funding anywhere near this level, or even a quarter of it.
How does the 2023 forecast compare to previous years?
Unsurprisingly, given the preamble, the funding required for Early Recovery had declined since 2016 – that is until 2021 and 2022. In 2016, the funding requirement for Early Recovery was $827m. Four years later, and the funding requirement had declined to $489m in 2020. The trend, however, reversed to $2.1bn in 2023. This is a huge jump given the funding requirements in recent years.
In tandem with the trend in the funding requirement in recent years, funding received to the sector has also declined then bounced back. Funding declined by over a half across the last six years, from $233m in 2016, to $135m in 2021, before climbing to $258m in 2022.
Our forecast is that Early Recovery will receive somewhere between 21% and 27% of the projected funding requirement. Our central estimate of $501m would be a significant jump on last year’s amount – but there’s range of possibilities on either side of this number.
We think that it’s almost certain that the Early Recovery sector will experience ‘real growth’ this year – that means funding received growing faster than the funding requirement. In this story, we’ve defined a real humanitarian recession as two consecutive years of a growing funding gap.
We’ve already had one year of a closing funding gap (albeit from 90% to 86% funding gap), and the good news is that we envisage that this trend will continue in 2023.
How does the 2023 forecast compare to other sectors?
Our central estimate of $501m for Early Recovery puts the sector in 9th place. This is just outside the top half of the table where sectors tend to receive $800m+ and have funding requirements of $3bn+.
The current state of things
The state of play in 2023 by the end of the calendar year shows clearly that Early Recovery is back. In fact, the sector has already received significantly more in 2023 than it had in the whole of 2022.
Even in 2022, the sector broadly tracked the path of previous years until the ‘post-year’ period, when the sector posted a huge amount of funding. The divergence from the previous low base is quite a new phenomena, and we’ll need to keep a close eye on this to see if it will continue.
Features of the Early Recovery sector in 2022
Only 14 contexts reported that Early Recovery funding was needed in 2022, compared to 41 contexts for Food Security. This illustrates the extent to which Early Recovery is not present or prioritised in many responses.
The success stories in the Early Recovery sector were the Humanitarian Response Plans in Iraq (241%)… and that’s it. Only one other HRP received more than 25% of its funding requirement for Early Recovery (Nigeria).
Again, it’s important to note that not all funding may be captured here. The extract above regarding UNDP’s early recovery funding being ‘five to ten’ times greater than what is received for Early Recovery through the cluster is important to bear in mind. It’s also important to keep in mind the funding that is Early Recovery plus other sectors, which is not recorded above as we can’t disaggregate it.
Early Recovery is not a hugely diverse sector in terms of where money comes from. The top donors were the US Government (43%), the German Government (11%), the Korean Government (5%), and UNICEF (5%).
Using the Herfindahl Hirschman Index, the sector is considered moderately concenrated, with a score of 2,122. As per the caveats in previous sections, the GCER evaluation noted that funding to UNDP for Early Recovery activities are far greater than what may be recorded, and so the above diagram may not be the complete picture of who is funding Early Recovery.
Whilst the sector isn’t diverse in terms of donors, it is in terms of recipients, with UN agencies being the main beneficiaries. The ILO, UNICEF, IOM, UNHCR, WFP, and UNDP all received more than $20m in 2022. International NGOs as well receive a significant amount of funding – almost all organisations with recorded funding are international.
The usual health warning: FTS doesn’t capture everything. It is a platform that relies on voluntary reporting by organisations. But it is the most comprehensive source of data for humanitarian funding.
To find out methodology and sources for other things on this page which aren’t the forecast, click here.
Note: Numbers in ‘The current state of things’ graph may differ from elsewhere on the page as the data was extracted on a different date (8th July 2023) than other numbers that also show how much was received (i.e. the column chart).