Evidence 2: A geographically diverse sector

In Evidence 1,  we analysed the historical pattern of the humanitarian sector. In Evidence 2, let’s turn to its geographical pattern. This map shows the locations of the humanitarian organisations’ headquarters per state.


Our results are congruent with what we know about the humanitarian sector at two levels:

  1. Europe, North America and Australia host the highest concentration of humanitarian organisations. In these regions, the number of organisations per state varies from 20 to 313.
  2. The sector is geographically diverse: although the concentration of humanitarian organisations is lower in Global South States, nearly all of them host at least one organisation.

Yet, our initial results enable us to more precisely delineate this geographical diversity. Some Global South States host a number of organisations that are very close to European ones (i.e. between 20 and 40 organisations). The top 5 home countries are Pakistan, Kenya, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite the fact that humanitarian organisations created in these countries are relatively young – compared to their Western counterparts – the number of creations follows a specific pattern in each case.

  • 88% of Pakistani humanitarian organisations were created after 1992 and the most intense period of creation was between 2000 and 2004.
  • Iraqi organisations follow a similar pattern: 79% of them were created after 1992. However, two creation peaks of equal intensity can be observed: the first between 1991 and 1992 and the second between 2003 and 2005.
  • The largest amount of “young” organisations can be found in Turkey: more than half of Turkish organisations were created between 2011 and 2013. Interestingly though, Turkey also hosts the oldest organisation, created in 1868.
  • Kenyan organisations have been active over the longest time period. Only 67% were created after 1992. No remarkable creation peaks can be identified in Kenya.
  • Lastly, the creation of Afghan organisations follows a similar pattern to the one observed at the global level : 96% of them being created after 1965, and 60% after 1992. Two creation peaks can be noticed: one between 1987 and 1992, and one between 2007 and 2009.

How can such preliminary results be interpreted?

First, the creation of humanitarian organisations appears to be very sensitive to internationalised intra-state conflicts as shown by the Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan cases.

Second, the creation of humanitarian organisations is linked to state creation patterns. Most of the organisations recently created in Iraq define themselves as Kurdish organisations. The same pattern can be observed in South Sudan which is among the top 35 states hosting the highest concentration of organisations.

Do you want to provide your own interpretation of these results? Please do not hesitate to comment on the article!