All humanitarian organisations, 2017

By Clara Egger

The graph compares the region of origin (on the left) of humanitarian organisations and their region of intervention (on the right). Note that although organisations have a single region of origin - the location of their headquarters - they may decentralise to develop stable programmes and offices in multiple regions (and not necessarily deploy from their headquarters to the region of intervention). 

Several facts stand out. First, Europe and North America have the highest capacity to self-manage their humanitarian crises with organisations active at the national and regional levels. These two continents receive the smallest share of external interventions. 83% of organisations working in Europe are European and 81% of organisations working in North America come from North America.  

Different patterns of interventions can be analysed for other regions. 

In Asia and Oceania, about half the organisations working in these regions are local to the region. 45% of organisations working in Asia are Asian, but 30% working in this region are European organisations. 47% of organisations working in Oceania come from the same continent, while the second largest group is formed by European organisations (32%).

The three remaining continents are characterised by unique patterns. The predominance of African organisations in the African continent is weaker. They intervene in the continent to an extent which is comparable to European organisations. Together both groups of organisations account for 74 % of the organisations active in Africa. 

The MENA region is characterised by a large presence of foreign organisations. Those created and located in the region only represent 30% of the organisations active there. The largest group of foreigners is formed by European organisations (43%) followed distantly by North American organisations (18%).

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

These results confirm that European and North American organisations have the greatest capacity to intervene worldwide. Yet European organisations are much more present worldwide than North American ones, including in South/Central America and the Caribbean. The third region that exports most of its organisations is Asia, especially to close regions such as Oceania. 

Second, our analysis shows that even in regions with a high presence of foreign organisations, regional organisations still account for around one third of the total. This pattern reflects a will to self-manage the response to conflicts, natural disasters or complex emergencies. Since the last decade, several governmental agencies and regional bodies have been created worldwide to manage and coordinate the humanitarian response to crises. Moreover, it should be noted that in the cases of Europe and North America the number and magnitude of humanitarian crises is more limited than in other continents, which could help to explain the lack of intervention from foreign organisations.

Two exceptions stand out: MENA and South/Central American, Caribbean region.

This Expertise Note was contributed by Dr Clara Egger in collaboration with the Humanitarian Encyclopedia team, based on analysis of the Humanitarian Organisation Database (HOD).

Last update : Apr 13, 2021