DEC's income drops by 75 per cent due to fewer emergencies

The charity's income was £9.9m in the year to the end of March compared with £45.5m in the previous 12 months

The aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique (Photograph: Wikus de Wet/AFP via Getty Images)
The aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique (Photograph: Wikus de Wet/AFP via Getty Images)

A welcome drop in major emergencies resulted in income at the Disasters Emergency Committee falling by more than 75 per cent last year, latest figures show. 

The DEC brings together 14 humanitarian agencies to respond to major international crises that meet its criteria, working with its members, broadcast and other partners to launch UK fundraising appeals. 

The proceeds of each appeal are distributed to the DEC's member agencies to enable them to deliver humanitarian programmes to help those most affected.

Its latest accounts, filed with Companies House last week, show that total income to the end of March this year was £9.9m, compared with £45.5m in the previous 12 months. 

The 2018/19 figure had been elevated because of an above average number of appeals during the year

Most of the 2019/20 amount was raised through the DEC’s Cyclone Idai Appeal, which totalled £8.7m during the year. 

Nick Waring, director of finance at DEC, said the fall in income was due to a tsunami in Indonesia in 2018 and a cyclone which affected Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in 2019.

“Our funding is often distributed over two years or more; a lot is often given out at the start in emergency relief, but the rest is for long-term development.”

Waring said this long-term approach to development also explained how the organisation could operate with a near-£17m spending deficit in this year's accounts, with total expenditure at just under £27m.

“It’s all in restricted funds,” he said. “It may look like we have a huge financial gap to fill, but there have just been [fewer] crises for us to respond to. 

“I’m always looking at general reserves to carry us forward as our biggest challenge is that we don’t know when the next appeal will be, so we have to balance providing funding to our members while retaining reserves to ensure our sustainability, and I think we’re in a strong position to do that.”

Waring said the DEC’s recent focus had been on its coronavirus appeal, which was launched in July to help people living in refugee camps, because those in crowded temporary settlements are particularly vulnerable to the virus.

He said he was pleased to announce the fund had raised £25m so far.

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