Published on Development for Peace

Who should receive humanitarian assistance when budget is short?

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Humanitarian organizations have very tough choices to make when it comes to deciding who receives assistance. In principle, humanitarian assistance should be for everyone, but with all the crises going on in the world today, budgetary support for these kinds of operations cannot keep up with the rapidly growing need for assistance.   

One way to better allocate humanitarian assistance and address the budget shortage is through targeting beneficiaries, which is the focus of a new working paper called “Optimal Targeting Under Budget Constraints in a Humanitarian Context,” which I co-authored with Chiara Gigliarano, Department of Economics, Università dell'Insubria, Varese, Italy.
In this recorded interview, I explain how targeting works and the methodology developed by this paper. When targeting, it’s important to avoid under coverage, while making sure not to provide assistance for those who do not need to be covered. 
This paper develops a methodology using methods that have been employed in other social sciences to optimize this minimization process; how to minimize the number of people who should not receive assistance and how to maximize those who should receive assistance.

Micro data is needed to optimize targeting. In middle-income countries like Jordan and Lebanon, micro data is more easily collected, but it is not readily available in places like Sub-Saharan Africa.
Targeting that is currently done in these types of countries is much less accurate precisely because there is a lack of micro data on individual households that helps you build the wellbeing model that is necessary to estimate who is poor and who is not poor.
The World Bank, UNHCR, and other organizations are working together to better collect this data, which will improve targeting.
Listen to the full interview to find out more.

This work is part of the program “Building the Evidence on Protracted Forced Displacement: A Multi-Stakeholder Partnership." funded by UK aid from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID).


Paolo Verme

Lead Economist, Manager of the Research program on Forced Displacement and Head of Research and Impact Evaluations in the Fragility, Conflict and Violence group of the World Bank.

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