According to the Guardian Data blog, total contributions rocketed to $22bn last year, spurred by typhoon Haiyan and conflicts in South Sudan and Syria

Global spending on humanitarian relief soared to a record $22bn (£12.93bn) last year as conflicts in Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria combined with natural disasters such as typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, drove donors to pay out more emergency aid than ever before.



Donations from governments reached $16.4bn (£9.63bn) last year, a 24% rise from 2012 figures, says research group Development Initiatives (DI), in a preview of their annual report.

Private donations – from corporations, foundations, individuals and trusts, usually in response to natural disasters – grew by 35% over the same period, according to preliminary estimates.

The total bill for typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which affected 14 million people, and the conflict in Syria, which affected 9.3 million people, was more than $7bn, said Christina Bennett, a Research Fellow in Humanitarian Policy at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). In per capita terms, Syria was the most expensive crisis, at close to $700 per capita, followed by $322 per capita in South Sudan, she added.

Despite a record level of aid, Dan Coppard, director of research and analysis at DI, said: "There is no place for complacency, with over a third of needs still not being met and demands set to rise in 2014 and beyond. As more actors provide assistance, we will need to improve the transparency of both humanitarian and other potential financial resources to target populations more effectively.

"Humanitarian assistance is only one small element of the total resources reaching crisis-affected countries, yet [it] continues to play a critical and unique function in providing a principled response to crisis-affected populations."

The UK and US were the top donors of humanitarian aid last year, while Turkey spent $1.6bn (£940m) on relief projects, mainly aimed at the 735,000 Syrian refugees living in the country, making it the third-largest donor.

The Syrian conflict continued to be one of the most expensive humanitarian disasters with $3.1bn (£1.82bn) spent on shelter, food and emergency relief for refugees. After holding a Syria pledging summit, Kuwait increased its humanitarian spending more than any donor government, recording a 2,315% increase from last year.

"The Syria crisis, in particular, has generated large amounts of humanitarian funding from donors in Gulf states, many of whom are becoming among the top humanitarian donors worldwide," said Bennett.

"During the past few years, however, we've seen sharp increases in Gulf state giving, in part prompted by the populist movements of the Arab spring and their aftermath, and because of far-reaching crises, such as Syria, which has affected five neighbouring countries," she said. "We've also seen more involvement from Gulf states in humanitarian issues more generally."

Read more on the Guardian Data blog