Evidence 13: States modes of engagement in humanitarian action

In Evidence 13, we will further explore the organizational diversity of the sector by focusing on two types of organizations: state entities and non-governmental organizations.

Let us start by taking a closer look at state entities. The graph below how states engage in humanitarian action.


Several facts stand out from these results.

First, governments play an important role in humanitarian action, but their modes of intervention differ.

Governmental donors mainly come from Western countries.  A closer look at the results shows that these agencies were mainly created in the 1990s. An exception is the MENA region, which hosts several non-Western donor agencies – due to the role Turkey, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia play in humanitarian funding.

On the other hand, governmental services and ministries are mainly concentrated in three regions: South/Central America and the Caribbean (23% of governmental services), Asia (22%) and Africa (19%). These governmental entities are almost exclusively dedicated to the response and prevention of humanitarian crises. Most of these organizations were created more recently, from the beginning of the 2000s up to 2015. This result reflects a trend toward the strengthening of national disaster response capacities as well as the reaffirmation of the sovereignty of affected states.

Second, humanitarian action is a field where states cooperate at the global and regional level.

UN agencies form the largest part of the inter-governmental organizations group. The size of this group is explained by the fact that over the course of their history most UN organizations started developing programs to respond to humanitarian crises, even if it was not a central part of their original mandate.  The 2005 UN-led humanitarian reform also reinforced the UN architecture through the creation of sectorial clusters dedicated to the coordination of humanitarian activities at the global and field level.

At the regional level, the European Union – mainly through the European Commission Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations – is a key player of the humanitarian ecosystem. In 2016, the European institutions were the fifth largest donor[1] in the world. Yet, our results also show that the activism of governments in Africa, Asia and South/Central America and the Caribbean is reflected by the way states cooperate with each other. These three regions include a large range of regional cooperation mechanisms dedicated to disaster prevention, risk reduction and response.

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[1] Development initiatives, Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2017, London , http://devinit.org/post/global-humanitarian-assistance-2017/.