Representing the needs of humanitarian workers

Posted on: June 4, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: 'Global South' survey

Voices added together
For the last half decade the central purpose behind my research has been to hear and then amplify humanitarian voices from around the globe. Collaborative efforts all, I have administered four major
Internet based surveys, reaching a total of 1,397 humanitarians. By providing a place where individuals can anonymously voice their opinion, the hope of me and my collaborators has been that data collected from these surveys can inform useful discussion, perhaps eventually leading to policy changes.

One question key question on our survey targeting humanitarians from the ‘global South’ is  Do you feel there is a need for an organization whose primary mission is to represent the needs of humanitarian workers?”

Our survey to this point has generated 186 responses from around the world, with most of the responses coming from three nations:  Jordan, Iraq, and Ethiopia. Here are the results overall and then broken down by region and nation.

All countries


Middle East (including Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria)


Africa (including Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Mali)





Looking forward
As can be seen from the above pie charts, the numbers vary little by nation/region, with the African nations indicating a need for such an organization at an only slightly higher percentage than those in the Middle East. Our data indicates a clear majority -55.3%- of national (‘global South’) humanitarians feel there is a need for an organization whose primary mission is to represent the needs of humanitarian workers. That another 34.1% feel that such an organization would ‘fill some needs’ is not inconsequential, indicating that overall the vast majority -a total of 87.4%- are at least somewhat receptive to the idea.

There is such an organization in the exploratory phase just now. “AID-U” has begun preliminary work on crafting a rationale that you can see here. AID-U is “a membership organisation for all workers within the humanitarian and international development sector to struggle for fairness, respect and rights of all aid-workers and the communities we aim to serve.”  The “(Potential) International Humanitarian and Development Workers Association” also has a Facebook page here.

More survey updates coming soon.  In the meantime contact me here with questions or comments.









Tom Arcaro

Tom Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University. He has been researching and studying the humanitarian aid and development ecosystem for nearly two decades and in 2016 published 'Aid Worker Voices'. He recently published his second and third books related to the humanitarians sector with 'Confronting Toxic Othering' published in 2021 and 'Dispatches from the Margins of the Humanitarian Sector' in 2022. A revised edition of 'Confronting Toxic Othering' will be out later in 2023.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:


Comments are closed.