210,800 may seem like a large number, but UK confectionery company Cadbury employs 45,000 people worldwide and Unilever around 174,000. So the humanitarian sector is actually only a little larger than a large global corporation. Which gives some perspective when you consider the scale of the major (i.e. Haiti) and more minor (i.e. ongoing war and displacement in Sudan and DRC) emergencies that the sector has to deal with.
The variation between $6bn and $18bn is more worrying. Advance Aid has been working on a $12bn number when estimating market size – drawn from OECD-DAC data and other sources and reassuringly in the middle of the range. But shouldn’t someone somewhere know what is being spent on emergencies?
The large number comes from the Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) Report
. ALNAP describes this as “the most widely credited” of the various sources, and it takes a donor-based approach to the calculation. Other approaches taken by ALNAP involved looking at “targeted contributions to specific humanitarian emergency response efforts”. This gave a market size of $6.6bn in 2008. A third approach gave a figure of $7bn.
But there is a general consensus that the humanitarian sector is growing. The $6.6bn represents almost a three-fold increase since 2000 (after allowing for inflation), and the number of people employed, as mentioned above, has grown by 6% per year for the past ten years.
Humanitarian aid is also growing faster than official development assistance. Opinions will vary on whether that is a good thing.
ALNAP identifies six major NGO players with humanitarian budgets of more than $250m a year – CARE, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Oxfam, Save and Children and Medicins sans Frontieres. With a total staff of 90,400 and a humanitarian spend of $1.7bn, these six giants dominate the NGO landscape, spending more than all of the other 229 NGOs added together.
Finally for this post, UN organisations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have 49,500 field staff between them. The International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent comes close to this with 48,400. And just over half of the total 210,800 field staff come from INGOs (112,900).