FACTBOX-Profiles of new humanitarian aid donors

by Alex Whiting | @AlexWhi | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 26 January 2012 10:00 GMT

Top 10 new donors in terms of humanitarian aid reported to the U.N. between 2006 and 2010

This article is part of an AlertNet special report on humanitarian aid: futureofaid.trust.org

By Alex Whiting   

LONDON (AlertNet) - Emerging powers are gaining influence on the international humanitarian aid scene, bringing new funds and perspectives.        

Here are the top 10 new donors in terms of humanitarian aid reported to the United Nations between 2006 and 2010.     Much of the aid from emerging donors is not reported.


Humanitarian aid: $1.247 billion   

In some years Saudi Arabia’s reported contributions have outstripped those of some Western donors.    

In 2008, Saudi Arabia gave $500 million in cash to the World Food Programme –- the largest contribution in the WFP’s history.       

The world's leading oil exporter uses humanitarian aid to exercise its growing influence, contain regional crises and ease domestic tensions with its large expatriate population, many from poor disaster-prone countries.   

Charitable giving is a key tenet of Islam, which has an obligatory annual offering of 2.5 percent of a person’s wealth.    

The overheads of multilateral agencies are a major concern for Saudi's faith-based charities. Religious rulings stipulate that administrative costs should not exceed 18 percent.   

Some Saudi officials have said U.N. agencies are expensive and slow to distribute funds.       


Humanitarian aid: $588.9 million     

The oil-rich Gulf state is establishing itself as an important humanitarian donor, giving large aid contributions and shaping international policy discussions on humanitarian aid.     

Most of its humanitarian aid goes to Arab and Islamic countries, in line with its foreign policy. It also gives aid in response to disasters affecting the home countries of its large expatriate population.       


Humanitarian aid: $175.7 million           


Humanitarian aid:  $137.6 million   

Humanitarian aid has been an integral part of Russian foreign policy since 1993.       


Humanitarian aid:  $97.9 million   

Turkey has been warmly welcomed as a new player in the multilateral humanitarian arena because of its clear commitment to humanitarian principles and coordination, researchers say.    

Its fast-growing economy straddles Europe and Asia.               


Humanitarian aid: $61.7 million    

China's reported humanitarian aid is probably significantly lower than the actual figure, partly because its reported figure for aid to its impoverished neighbour North Korea is improbably low.   

The world's second-largest economy gives most of its humanitarian aid bilaterally to governments and via national Red Cross societies, although it has increasingly made contributions to multilateral agencies since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.    

China's search and rescue team is among the most advanced in the world, and the country has experience in handling large-scale disasters internally.   

China refers to humanitarian principles as a basis for its approach to giving aid.    

Traditional donors often see Chinese humanitarian aid -- especially to African countries -- as part of its often criticised development policies, researchers say.    

It is one of the largest recipients of the Global Fund.       


Humanitarian aid: $54.7 million    

India has recently moved from being a major recipient to one of the most important non-Western donors in humanitarian aid.    

The government refused humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and quickly provided aid to neighbouring affected countries.   

India says its main reasons for giving humanitarian aid are to help countries in distress and to foster friendly relations.        

Most of its aid goes to strategically important neighbours.    

The South Asian giant has developed a sophisticated disaster management system and helped countries in the region set up similar systems.    

India emphasises countries' sovereignty, giving most of its aid directly to the affected country’s government, and stressing that it should not be linked to political objectives.       

Indian officials have criticised international aid agencies, saying they have too many expensive Western staff and don't use funds efficiently.   

It has channelled some aid multilaterally in recent years, either when the recipient country asked for this -– as Pakistan did after the 2010 floods -– or in conflict zones.       

India is one of the Global Fund’s largest recipients.        


Humanitarian aid: $39.1 million       


Humanitarian aid: $34 million   

Brazil has been a donor for decades and recently increased its volume of humanitarian aid significantly, in parallel with its emergence as a regional power in Latin America.    

Most of its humanitarian aid has been given bilaterally. The 2010 Haiti earthquake was an exception.   

Most of its aid goes to countries in Latin America, the Economic Community of West African States region and Portuguese-speaking African countries.   

In 2010 Brazil joined the Good Humanitarian Donorship group.        


Humanitarian aid: $22 million         

SOURCES: U.N. Financial Tracking Service, Overseas Development Institute, Global Public Policy Institute, U.N. Financial Tracking Service, Development Initiatives 

Special coverage:

Expert poll

Focus on donors

Focus on recipients



Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.