HelpAge and Handicap International study shows less than 1% of humanitarian aid targets older people or people with disabilities

22 February 2012

HelpAge  International and Handicap International study shows less than 1% of humanitarian aid targets older people or people with disabilities.

A new study by HelpAge International and Handicap International has found a significant disparity between the needs of older people and people with disabilities and the level of humanitarian assistance delivered to meet their needs.

11% of the world's population is aged 60 and above, whilst an estimated 15% of people live with disability. However, analysis of over 6,000 projects from 14 UN Consolidated Appeal Processes (CAP) and 4 Flash Appeals between 2010 and 2011 shows that:

  • Only 61 funded projects (1%) target older people or people with disabilities.
  • In 21 countries, no projects in any sector target older people. This includes Chad, Central African Republic and 16 countries in West Africa.
  • Funding for projects targeting people with disabilities decreased between 2010 and 2011 (from 0.7% to 0.43%).

Older people and people with disabilities face specific challenges in humanitarian crises related to mobility, access to services such as healthcare and reestablishing livelihoods. If active steps are not taken, the needs of these highly vulnerable groups will continue to be unmet. Humanitarian actors must integrate the needs of these groups into responses and, where necessary, provide targeted interventions.

According to Frances Stevenson, Head of Emergencies at HelpAge: "This research shows there is a serious problem in the international humanitarian system. Humanitarian aid agencies systematically fail to assist the most vulnerable people. Older people and people with disabilities can be particularly vulnerable in crises and disasters and they have specific needs, but time and again their needs are not being properly assessed, analysed or incorporated in responses."

Jean-Pierre Delomier, Head of Emergencies at Handicap International adds: "At the time of a crisis, NGOs should pay particular attention to targeting the most vulnerable as they have the greatest difficulties accessing humanitarian assistance. It is what we aim to do for these most excluded individuals, by covering both their basic and specific needs."

A study of humanitarian financing for older people and people with disabilities can be downloaded here.


Notes to Editors

For more information contact Navdha Malhotra, on +44 (0) 207 148 4412, +44(0) 7564010804, or or Beatrice Cami, on +44 (0)7525 101 026; +44 (0)870 774 3737 or

The authors of the report are available for interview by telephone.

  • HelpAge International is a global network of organisations helping older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.
  • HelpAge International receives core funding from Age UK and in the UK HelpAge International and Age UK are working in partnership to put ageing at the centre of UK government development policy.
  • Photographs of our work can be found at
  • Handicap International is an international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Working alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations in over 60 countries worldwide, we take action and raise awareness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights. Handicap International is a co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban