You Decide: Humanitarian Aid


About this website:

The purpose of this website is to provide unbiased information about humanitarian aid.  There is a page dedicated to the positive aspects of humanitarian aid and another page dedicated to the negative aspects of humanitarian aid. The interactive page features two videos, each one taking a different stance on the issue. The interactive page also features maps showing countries most recently affected by disasters. If you would like to donate to an organization that provides aid to countries in need, please click "How You Can Help." This link will take you to a Yahoo! News article providing more information on how to donate.

What is Humanitarian Aid?

Humanitarian aid consists of all kinds of resources. It consists of physical goods such as food and water, skills and technical know-how, financial grants (gifts), or loans (Riddell 17). One reason aid may be given is to help a country recover from some kind of disaster. According to the article, "Natural Disasters, Economic Development, and Humanitarian Aid, an event qualifies for humanitarian aid if one  or more of the following criteria is fulfilled: "...10 or more people are reported killed; 100 or more people are reported affected, injured, and/or homeless; the government declares a state of emergency; or the government requests international assistance" (Strömberg 201). For instance, Haiti has been receiving aid from countries all over the world since it experienced a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010. According to, as of April 1, Haiti has been promised $10 billion in aid money from various countries and aid organizations. Another reason aid may be given is to help in the development of poor countries. This type of aid is called Official Development Assistance (ODA). According to the book Does Humanitarian Aid Really Work? "ODA consists of flows to developing countries and multilateral institutions provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies, each transaction of which meets the following two criteria: (1) it is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective, and (2) it is concessional in character and contains a grant element of at least 25 per cent" (Riddell 19).

Why do countries allocate aid?

There are many reasons that donors decide to allocate aid. As stated in the book Does Humanitarian Aid Really Work? there are six main reasons that have historically persuaded a country to allocate aid. They are "(1) to help address emergency needs; (2) to assist recipients achieve their development (growth and poverty-reducing) goals; (3) to show solidarity; (4) to further their own national political and strategic interests; (5) to help promote donor-country commercial interests; and (6) because of historical ties" (Riddell 91). More recently, two other reasons have been added to these six. According to Riddell, within the past ten years "growing attention has been focused on (7) the contribution that aid funds can make to providing and strengthening global public goods, and reducing the ill effects of global evils, and (8) some donors have started more explicitly to base aid-giving decisions on the human rights records of recipient governments, in particular by reducing or halting completely the flow of aid to countries whose record on basic human rights they assess as seriously deficient" (Riddell 91).