Understanding the categories in the database

This section provides information on the definitions of the categories used to sort through articles on the database.

  • Year: the year that the article was published
  • Source: the type of organization/individual that wrote the article, not the funding organization/individual. There are the following options:
    • Aid policy/research organization: a group that researches humanitarian assistance and shares its results with academics, practitioners, and policymakers
    • Academics: author affiliated with a university who primarily publishes in peer review journals
    • United Nations: any agency that is part of the United Nations. Publications by IOM before they were part of the UN are included in this category.
    • INGO: a humanitarian organization (other than a United Nations agency) that primarily responds in countries other than where its headquarters is based. Local offices of international organizations qualify in this category, as well as actors that are non-governmental, non-UN, but are not typically considered as an ‘NGO’ (such as the World Bank)
    • NNGO: a humanitarian organization that primarily responds in the country where its headquarters is based
    • Donors: work published by staff of a donor agency, not research that they funded. This includes policy statements, guidance notes, and workshop reports. 
  • Main topic: Multiple topics may apply to one article. The options are:
    • Access: articles that discuss whether and how different humanitarian actors can physically access crisis-affected populations.
    • Capacity building: articles that describe effort to build/strengthen capacity of a “local” actor, including critiques of capacity building and explanations of capacity-building approaches
    • Understanding local capacity: articles that seek to assess how local actors perform in humanitarian contexts, their comparative strengths and weaknesses, and power dynamics among various local actors in crisis-affected areas
    • Partnerships: articles that discuss formalized partnership (the sharing/division of resources, staff, programs) between local actors and external actors
    • Coordination: articles that discuss coordination between local and external actors, including formal (such as the Cluster system) and informal  (such as the sharing of information for coordination purposes) mechanisms
    • Engaging with affected populations: articles that discuss community engagement in terms of recognizing their capacity as responders and decision-makers.
    • Funding mechanisms: articles that discuss the mechanisms by which local actors obtain financial resources for humanitarian response, including from nontraditional sources such as remittances
    • Architecture of humanitarian aid: articles that discuss the structures of humanitarian governance, the roles that various actors do or should play in this system, and/or the distribution of power within the humanitarian response system
  • Local actor: When articles refer to “local actors”, they may be referring to different kinds of individuals and groups from the crisis affected community/country. One article may refer to multiple kinds of local actors.
    • Affected community/ad hoc volunteers: people from the affected community who  respond on an ad hoc basis (through informal structures) to issues created by humanitarian crises that affect themselves, their families, or other community members.
    • Traditional/customary leaders: people who have leadership roles due to traditional cultural structures but whose leadership is not formally a part of the state apparatus.
    • Religious groups: a community of people united by religious belief/faith in formal institutions or informal groups, not including faith-based NGOs.
    • Local/national NGO: a formal non-governmental organization that is headquartered in the crisis-affected region or country. This does include local Red Cross/Red Crescent societies, but does not include local chapters of organizations headquartered in other countries.
    • Community-based organizations: any informal or semiformal organizations and associations in the affected area that do not qualify as a local/national NGO, including informal community associations, cooperatives, professional networks, parents’ associations, etc.
    • Local/national government: all institutions that are a part of a recognized state, including representative and appointed officials at the local and national level, agents of the state security apparatus (police, army, etc.), state service providers (government schools and hospitals).
    • Local/national private sector: private enterprises of any size, formal or informal, based in the affected region
    • Diaspora and social networks: people who live outside of the affected community/country but have family/historical connections to the affected population
    • Local/national media: any form of mass media (radio, television, newspapers, etc.) that is based on the affected country. This does not include correspondents from international media companies that happen to be based in the affected region during the crisis in question.
    • Local researchers and universities: people from the affected community who  respond on an ad hoc basis (through informal structures) to issues created by humanitarian crises that affect themselves, their families, or other community members.
    • Non-state armed actors: any group using violence in a systematic way that is not formally a part of the state apparatus. This includes formal organizations and informal networks, groups with criminal and ideological motivations, and those allied with and against the state
  • Country: the country/territory upon which the article focuses (if specific countries are mentioned).
  • Crisis type: the primary kind of crisis that the case study refers to.
    • Conflict: this encompasses active conflict, structural and political violence, post-conflict transition, and criminal violence.
    • Displacement/migration crisis: a crisis in which actors are dealing with the effects of mass displacement or migration due to a shock elsewhere.
    • Food crisis: a crisis in which there is at least a Level 3 Food Crisis according to the IPC classification system
    • Natural disaster: natural phenomenon (flood, hurricane, typhoon, tornado, earthquake, volcanic eruption, drought, etc) that causes damage and loss of life.
    • Public health emergency: a health risk to the public caused by epidemic or pandemic disease, or factors such as bioterrorism, pollution, etc.

Note: not all of these categories are applied to every article. Country and Crisis Type will only be applied to an article if the article happens to feature specific case studies.