Humanitarian Crises: What Determines the Level of Emergency Assistance? Media Coverage, Donor Interests and the Aid Business

Olsen G.R., Carstensen, N. & Høyen, K. Disasters, Overseas Development Institute

This paper proposes a basic hypothesis that the volume of emergency assistance any humanitarian crisis attracts is determined by three main factors working either in conjunction or individually. First, it depends on the intensity of media coverage. Second, it depends on the degree of political interest, particularly related to security, that donor governments have in a particular region. Third, the volume of emergency aid depends on strength of humanitarian NGOs and international organisations present in a specific country experiencing a humanitarian emergency. The empirical analysis of a number of emergency situations is carried out based on material that has never been published before. The paper concludes that only occasionally do the media play a decisive role in influencing donors. Rather, the security interests of Western donors are important together with the presence and strength of humanitarian stakeholders, such as NGOs and international organisations lobbying donor governments.