Humanitarian aid is facing a series of challenges due to the increasing number of crises derived from the effects of climate change and increased violence against civil populations combined with greater vulnerability derived from turbulence in the global economy. In many cases we find ourselves facing crises that are repeated with some frequency; in others, crises appear out of the blue. In both cases, the aim is to save human lives and ensure that victims are less affected by each new crisis.
The specific aims of humanitarian aid are reflected in the Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2013-2016. Its aims include improving and increasing the capacity, effectiveness and commitment of the response provided by Spanish cooperation abroad. To ensure this, the Humanitarian Action Office (Spanish acronym: OAH) is responsible for managing official aid, in accordance with the Master Plan. A series of criteria are followed to implement the level and type of action required, decided on according to the profile of the crisis. Action by AECID is focused on some of the sectors for intervention, also known as clusters, as defined within the framework of the UN Humanitarian Reform process. Spain is a key player within the international donor community. It actively participates in various international forums and supports OCHA as an essential organisation for humanitarian coordination. Within the framework of the EU, Spain participates in the design and implementation of humanitarian strategies together with the rest of the Member States and ECHO.
As priority lines of action, the OAH focuses its attention on food security and nutrition, access to water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as protection. These are sectors where the Spanish humanitarian system has a proven track-record and the capacity to contribute added value.
Within these sectors, AECID is focused on both preparing and responding to crises as well as early rehabilitation following such crises. It is sensitive to the resilience of populations affected by them.
The OAH directs the execution of humanitarian aid through the most important international bodies with which Spain has set up "humanitarian funds" (such as UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, ICRC), and through specialised NGOs with which it has signed multi-annual collaboration agreements. In addition, AECID participates in the main humanitarian coordination forums with the aim of consolidating development and applying the humanitarian commitments endorsed by Spain. Although it is true that the Master Plan establishes priority geographical lines for action, the OAH actions are linked to the principle of necessity, so they cannot be limited exclusively to a specific geographical area. It is also worth pointing out that humanitarian aid is also executed through NGOs, many of which have signed agreements with the OAH. In addition, AECID is responsible for coordinating the Spanish response to humanitarian emergencies as soon as indications of a crisis or disaster first appear. The agency thus monitors the situation and analyses the information, in collaboration with the authorities managing emergencies in the affected country, Spanish embassies and the NGOs present on the ground.
AECID has two main points of deployment to respond to humanitarian crises. The first is a Humanitarian Logistical Centre (Spanish acronym: CLH) located at Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base, which has been ceded by the Ministry of Defence. It is capable of acting in more than one crisis at the same time. The second is the CLH for Spanish cooperation in Latin America located in Panama, currently under the umbrella of UNHRD and part of the UN's Global Food Programme (GFP). This centre makes it possible to maximise Spain's humanitarian response in the zone, both at a level of operating costs and response time. Within the network of UNHRD humanitarian logistical centres, Spain has reached an agreement leading to the creation of a centre in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to cover crises in West Africa and provide support to Central America and the Caribbean for four years.