Diversity in Donorship: Field Lessons

Adele Harmer, Ellen Martin (Eds.)


Non-western governments, which are not members of the development assistance committee (DAC) of the OECD, accounted for 12% of humanitarian financing for any given year between 1999 and 2004. In this study, the Humanitarian Policy Group of the Overseas Development Institute examines how these donors operate in the field. The study examines three emergency responses: the South Asian earthquake of 2005 and floods in June 2007 in Balochistan and Sindh provinces; the response to the Israeli offensive in Lebanon in 2006; and the ongoing response to the protracted conflict in Darfur, Sudan. Specifically, each case study examines how foreign policy and strategic interests affected aid donorship, and how interventions were determined and projects prioritised, including the extent to which funding was given according to assessed need.

The study found that non-DAC donors generally prefer to channel humanitarian assistance through host-state mechanisms, which reflects a general emphasis on ensuring that the affected state has the primary role in managing humanitarian responses on its territory. Humanitarian interventions from non-DAC governments could be criticised for providing whatever assistance is immediately available, rather than offering support based on an assessment of the needs of the affected population. There was little evidence that DAC donors were aware of non-DAC contributions, and non-DAC donors did not seek to coordinate their support through formal coordination mechanisms, either with non-DAC or DAC donors. At the global level, however, there is increased emphasis by DAC governments on the need to engage with non-DAC donors.


Harmer, A. & Martin, E. (Eds.). (2010). Diversity in Donorship: Field Lessons. ODI, Humanitarian Policy Group, Report 30.