The UK’s humanitarian response to COVID-19

A review assessing emergency UK aid support for populations in humanitarian need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 14 July 2022
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Humanitarian assistance
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Nepal, Yemen
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Zero hunger, Good health and wellbeing, Gender equality

Read the approach paper

Our approach

This review looks at UK emergency support for populations in humanitarian need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes funding to UN-led, global appeals and through other international channels, and in-country programming in a sample of case study countries.

It considers how well the UK responded with humanitarian aid to the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic, including impacts on livelihoods from public health measures, the effects of disruption to public services and the increased incidence of violence against women, girls and vulnerable people. The review also considers how well UK aid acted to minimise the impact of the pandemic on pre-existing humanitarian crises.

It complements and builds on a number of other ICAI reviews, including a rapid review of the UK’s aid response to COVID-19 a review of procurement during the early phase of the pandemic response, a review of the UK’s management of the 0.7% spending target in 2020 and a review of the UK’s approach to funding the UN humanitarian system.

Review questions

This review sought to answer the following questions:

  1. How well did the UK government prioritise its humanitarian response to COVID-19?
  2. To what extent has the UK supported a coherent humanitarian response to COVID-19?
  3. To what extent has the UK humanitarian response to COVID-19 saved lives, reduced suffering and helped affected populations to build resilience?



Published 4 November 2021

Evidence gathering


Review publication

14 July 2022

Government response

Expected August 2022

Parliamentary scrutiny

To be confirmed

Further scrutiny

To be confirmed