A new breed of humanitarian actors, donors

International response to recent crises hints at the emergence of new donors and actors in a field traditionally dominated by Western humanitarian aid providers.

In Somalia, where militant groups have largely restricted foreign humanitarian operations, aid workers from Turkey and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have managed to fill in the gap, Reuters notes. Turkey is helping build an international airport in Mogadishu and plans to construct a hospital. OIC, meanwhile, is coordinating the work of Islamic aid agencies in Somalia. 

Another nontraditional humanitarian donor is Saudi Arabia, one of the most charitable contributors to the flood relief efforts in Pakistan.

Nontraditional donors offer not only fresh funding but also a different way of providing assistance. They, for one, channel more aid through bilateral channels than traditional donors, who prefer working with nongovernmental organizations or their own aid agencies. Beyond financial aid, these donors are also able to offer expertise in managing natural disasters.

But experts said there are some concerns with the entry of such donors, including these donors’ lack of institutions to evaluate the effectiveness of their response.

“There is a lot of work that we have done in the West to try and improve our standards, accountability practices and so on, things which also need to be improved in other parts of the world,” said Abdurahman Sharif, operations manager of the London-based Muslim Charities Forum.   

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.