Evidence 5: The transnational circulation of humanitarian organizations

Let’s continue our exploration of the geographical patterns of humanitarianism with an analysis of the humanitarian transnational flux. The series of graphs below show, for each continent, where humanitarian organizations working in the continent come from.


Europe and North America receive the smallest share of external interventions. Organizations working in Europe are at 83 % European and organizations working in North America come at 81% from North America.

Our analysis provides more original insights on the flux of humanitarian assistance in other continents.


We have grouped Asia and Oceania together since they follow a pattern close to North America and Europe. Organizations working in Asia are predominantly Asian (45%), followed by European organizations (30%). 47% of organizations working in Oceania come from the same continent. The second largest group is formed by European organizations (32%).

The three remaining continents are characterized by unique patterns.


The predominance of African organizations in the African continent is less strong. They intervene in the continent to an extent which is comparable to European organizations. Together both groups of organizations account for 74 % of the organizations active in Africa.

The MENA region is characterized by a great presence of foreign organizations. Organizations born and located in the country only represent 30% of the organizations active in the region. The largest group of foreigners is formed by European organizations (43 %) followed distantly by North American organizations (18%).

South/Central America and the Caribbean hosts the largest amount of North American organizations (33 %) which forms the second largest foreign group after European organizations (40%). The third group is formed by organizations founded in the region (21%).

What do these results tell us?

First they informs us on which organizations go where. Our results confirm that European and North American organizations have the greatest capacity to intervene worldwide. Yet European organizations are much more present worldwide than North American organizations, including in South/Central America and the Caribbean. The third region which exports the most its organizations is Asia, especially to close regions such as Oceania.

Second, our analysis allows to grasp the specific patterns of recipient regions. Most of the regions are characterized by a predominance of regional organizations. This pattern can be linked to several factors. It certainly results from a will to self-manage the response to conflicts, natural disasters or complex emergencies. Since the last decade, several governmental agencies have been created worldwide to manage and coordinate the humanitarian response to crises. It should also be noted that in the case of Europe and North America, the number of humanitarian crises is more limited than in other continents which could help to explain the lack of intervention from foreign organizations. Two exceptions stand out: MENA and South/Central American, Caribbean region.

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