By Clara Egger

This graph compares the type of activities implemented by national and international organisations. National organisations are defined as those working within the national boundaries of their headquarters location while international organisations develop programmes beyond these national boundaries. 

Two findings stand out. First, regarding the distribution of activities, the most prevalent is material assistance. Capacity building and training activities come second, reflecting the concern of the sector for professionalisation activities. Organisations also devote time and resources to advocacy programmes, reflecting the joint focus of humanitarian actors on supporting crisis-affected communities, increasing their visibility, altering the policies and practices that cause their sufferings. In contrast, some activities are much more limited, either because they are relatively new - cash-based programming, research - or specific to some types of actors - policy making mainly implemented by governmental and intergovernmental organisations and information and communication requiring specific expertise and skills.

A relatively large number of organisations declare funding humanitarian activities reflecting not only the growing activism of governmental and inter-governmental donors but also the creation of NGOs raising funds for other organisations. This may reflect the sector’s outsourcing and partnering trend linked with the localisation agenda but also with heightened security constraints on the ground. The importance of research and evaluation activities reflects the concern of the sector for increasing the quality and effectiveness of aid programming.

Second, the graph reveals that national and international organisations engage in a very similar range of activities, despite the prevalent narrative of national organisations being specialised in the implementation of programmes. National organisations also develop capacity-building and training programmes and strive to influence, through advocacy programmes, the policy context they work in. Interestingly, they also declare more research programmes than their international counterparts. In contrast, international organisations play a strong role in the development of evaluation and standards and cash based programming. 

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