By Clara Egger

This map displays the number of humanitarian organisations per headquarters location. 

Data show that: 

  1. Europe, North America and Australia host the highest number of humanitarian organisations. In these regions, the number of organisations per state varies from 20 to 313. This high concentration is likely due to the data collection strategy used to compile the HOD, which mainly relies on the analysis of websites. 
  2. The humanitarian sector is geographically diverse: although the number of humanitarian organisations is lower in the Global South, nearly all states host at least one organisation.

Explore the map see more details on this geographical diversity.

Some Global South states host a similar number of organisations to European countries (i.e. between 20 and 40 organisations). The top five 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. 

A glimpse at the founding year of such organisations reveals that 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 number 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 were 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 major internationalised civil wars as shown by the Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan cases. Second, the creation of humanitarian organisations is linked to state creation patterns. For example, 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.

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 : Mar 30, 2021