Evaluation: Finland’s humanitarian assistance is relevant to people in need

An independent evaluation indicates that Finland’s humanitarian assistance is meeting the needs of people in emergency settings and that Finland has been successful in advancing gender equality and the rights of persons with disabilities. Understaffing and rigid administrative procedures, among other matters, are identified as Finland’s weaknesses.

Cover image of the evaluation The recent evaluation shows that Finland channels humanitarian assistance to countries where there are needs and that the assistance is relevant to the people in need. Finland places a good deal of trust in its partners and the assistance is aligned with the partners’ strategic priorities. The evaluation identifies as the most tangible results the provision of basic commodities, services and facilities, as well as protection to people in need.

Finland is commended for its success in promoting gender equality and the rights of persons with disabilities in the strategies of the organisations that receive funding from Finland. However, at country level, the results are often pockets of fragmented outcomes, and they do not capture the full effectiveness of assistance.

The evaluation identified some tangible results at country level, too: Finland has helped reduce gender-based violence and maternal mortality, and it has enhanced access to education for girls and women and improved women’s livelihoods in emergency settings. The special needs of persons with disabilities have been taken into account in the allocation of assistance by providing rehabilitation and assistive devices, among other help.

Finland has a strong approach to international coordination

Finland is strongly committed to international, coordinated humanitarian assistance, according to the evaluation. For example, Finland plays a leading role in some key global humanitarian forums. To support the aspiration towards effective and coordinated international humanitarian assistance, Finland is channelling the bulk of its humanitarian funding through UN organisations and other multilateral agencies. The non-earmarked core funding gives organisations the flexibility to direct assistance to crises where it is most needed.

However, the downside of the core funding is that Finland’s humanitarian contribution is poorly visible even in the countries where Finland has a relatively strong presence. The evaluation recommends that Finland add to its funding channels the UN's country-based pool funds where Finland has better possibilities of influencing humanitarian action at the local level.

Room for improvement in the Ministry’s administrative procedures and in the use of local resources

The evaluation argues that Finland’s humanitarian action is weakened by rigid administrative procedures and by understaffing in the handling of assistance matters at the Ministry. The current administrative procedures do not help Finland align its humanitarian assistance with emerging needs, according to the evaluation. The slow decision-making processes have affected Finland’s partners negatively. In addition, the limited human resources make it more difficult for Finland to monitor the results of its humanitarian assistance.

Finland has not dedicated specific effort towards the localisation of assistance.

According to the evaluation, Finland could improve its humanitarian assistance by streamlining funding to a more limited number of partners and by adopting a more strategic approach to international influencing and to engagement with civil society.

Exponential growth in the global need for humanitarian assistance

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have aggravated the already dire humanitarian situation globally. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has more than doubled in just a few years. In the beginning of 2019, the need for assistance reached an all-time peak at 132 million people. By August 2022, the number had grown to 306 million.

Humanitarian assistance has wide support among Finnish people: according to a survey conducted by Taloustutkimus in June, as many as 77 per cent of Finns consider it important that Finland provides humanitarian assistance.

The present evaluation of Finland's humanitarian assistance covers the period from 2016 to March 2022. Evaluation reports are independent evaluations of development policy and development cooperation that are used to develop the quality of development cooperation action.