Press Notice 29, Session 2005-06

New inquiry


Natural disasters during 2005 focused public attention on the policies and practices of humanitarian assistance.  The IDC has decided to conduct an inquiry into Humanitarian response to natural disasters.  The focus is specifically on natural disasters (both slow and rapid onset), although we recognize that there is not always a clear distinction between natural disasters and complex emergencies.  The inquiry will address the following issues:

Initial disaster response and the international humanitarian system

• How do INGOs, national NGOs, the media, parliamentarians and the public influence DFID’s decision-making and responses to natural disasters? 

• Are lessons drawn from evaluations applied during later responses?  What impact has the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative had on practices?

• How useful have recent reviews of the capacity, effectiveness and flexibility of the international humanitarian system been? 

• Are proposals (including those from HMG) for the reform of the international humanitarian system realistic and comprehensive?  Are they likely to affect the responsiveness of the public and government to future humanitarian funding appeals?

• What should be the role of the military and civil defence actors in humanitarian responses?

• What local consultation and accountability processes does DFID engage in when providing humanitarian aid?

Vulnerability and disaster preparedness

• How do DFID and other development actors assess the vulnerabilities of the recipients of development assistance to natural disasters? 

• How do donors ensure that humanitarian assistance is delivered equitably (in terms of gender, ethnicity, caste etc.), and does not exacerbate existing inequalities?

• How can donors deliver humanitarian assistance in ways which support the disaster response capacity of recipient country governments? 

• Do humanitarian responses to natural disasters affect the ability of people to cope with future disasters?

• Has an appropriate balance been found between investment in disaster preparedness and disaster response? 

• Have early warning mechanisms effectively informed decisions about intervention?

Development and humanitarian assistance

• How effectively do DFID and other development actors analyse the risks to their development programmes posed by natural disasters?

• Is DFID taking account of the key threats to their humanitarian programmes, including HIV/AIDS, avian flu and climate change?

• Can the interaction between development work and humanitarian assistance be improved? 

• How appropriate is the balance between donor spending on immediate relief work and longer term reconstruction and development?  How successfully are transitions between relief, reconstruction and development managed?

The Committee will focus on the role of DFID and the UK Government, but the inquiry will also examine the roles played by NGOs, the Red Cross Movement, the United Nations, the European Union, other multilateral donors and the governments of disaster affected countries.  The inquiry is not intended to replicate the numerous evaluations of specific disasters which have been produced recently.  It will however, review how the recommendations which the IDC has made in previous inquiries have been received and applied.  

Submission of written evidence

Organisations and individuals with relevant experience and expertise - especially from developing countries - are invited to submit written evidence addressing (any of) the themes listed above. The Committee encourages submissions which draw on evidence and experience of specific natural disasters, including disasters which have not attracted a high international media profile. Evidence should reach the Clerk of the Committee by Wednesday 10 May 2006

Evidence submitted should:

- if possible, be provided electronically in MS Word or Rich Text format, either by e-mail to or on a disk. If submitted by e-mail or e-mail attachment, a letter should also be sent validating the e-mail;

- the letterhead should contain your full postal address and contact details;

- any memorandum of more than six pages should begin with a one page summary;

- have numbered paragraphs;

- and avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material;

- further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at;

Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included. Submissions can be sent via or, by post, to International Development Committee, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, either by printing the written evidence alongside the oral evidence or by making the evidence available through the Parliamentary Record Office.  If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


Detailed enquiries to Hannah Weston, Second Clerk on 020 7219 0851 or


Further Information:

The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Barrett MP (Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Quentin Davies MP (Con), Mr Jeremy Hunt MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh (Lab).

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, 020 7219 0718 or

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