Evidence 12: Diverse organizational focuses

For this post, we will explore how the organizational diversity of the humanitarian sector impacts how terms are used. The graph below compares the patterns of occurrences for the most used terms by type of organization.



What insights do these results provide?

First, the four types of organizations in our graph use very few terms the same way, although some groupings can be identified. As shown in our latest analysis, intergovernmental organizations and governmental donors use one specific term in a common way: government. This is not surprising, as these types of organizations are the only ones directly composed of governmental entities.

Some original proximities also emerge: the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement uses the term “crisis” in a similar way to donors, whereas “clusters” is a frequent term used commonly by non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations.

Let us now explore the specificities of each type’s language.

NGOs form the group which uses the lowest number of terms in a distinct way. Still, four terms stand out. They refer to:

  • the importance of programs and organizational processes;
  • a focus on child and gender issues;
  • a unique emphasis on poverty, which could reflect understanding poverty as an underlying cause of humanitarian crises

Donors use five terms in a distinct way. The terms include an emphasis on their own role in humanitarian action (though the frequent use of “donor”) as well as a focus on inter-state cooperation through the United Nations. They also include “partners”, often combined with “countries” to refer to the role of crisis affected states. Their distinct funding and decision-making role is reflected by the use of “assistance” and “policy”.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and IGO groups employ the highest number of terms in a specific manner (7). Yet, these terms are fundamentally different.

Two clusters of terms emerge from the analysis of the Movement’s “language”:

  • one around the role of affected communities, people and the state (“recipient state”);
  • the second referring to organizational processes including numerous references to the Movement’s societies and its objective, as well as a dyad of terms linked to “professional” and “volunteer” humanitarianism.

The last group – IGOs – is characterized by a focus on the importance of capacity-building used in association with capacity. The emphasis is also put on:

  • activities and areas of intervention (health, nutrition, support)
  • the needs of the affected people with an emphasis on the specificities of displaced populations

This day dedicated to the organizational diversity of the sector confirms that it is a critical dimension to understanding the diversity of humanitarian “languages”.

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