The European Map of
Humanitarian Action (HA Map)
offers a first time insight into the
humanitarian sector in Europe

Read more about the project below


The objective of this work‐package was to develop a European Map of Potentialities for the Humanitarian Sector defining concrete strategies to develop the sector in a harmonious manner. The exercise looks for the first time at the reality of Humanitarian Action in Europe from the perspective of its member countries. To achieve this, the specific objectives identified by the EUPRHA partners through a consultative process were:

  1. Define humanitarian activity and determine the boundaries of exclusion,
  2. Develop a database of humanitarian actors in each of the member countries with details of their sectoral focus, areas of activity, beneficiary focus,
  3. Develop a database of humanitarian educators in each of the member countries with details of the programme focus, length, delivery methods,
  4. Develop country reports analysing the strengths and the potentialities in humanitarian activity and education.

The Analytical Framework

The figure below represents the analytical framework for mapping European humanitarian potentialities. This framework was developed through a series of consultative workshops involving all the partner institutions within EUPRHA.

The humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence are universally recognized. However there is little consensus on definition of humanitarian activity. The humanitarian stakeholder group comprises of a wide‐range of actors varying in their vision, mission, scale of operations, sectoral focus and types of activities. The first step in developing the analytical framework, therefore, was to identify indicators for humanitarian actors. Drawing on an extensive literature review and expert consultations the following working definition of a humanitarian actor was developed:

A humanitarian actor is someone who is working to help and assist people in distress or need by: protecting human life and dignity, satisfying basic needs, alleviating suffering, protecting human rights and prevent and reducing future risks, and who is guided by the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.

This definition excluded the application or the level of adherence to humanitarian principles by actors. Similarly a definition for humanitarian educator was developed:

A humanitarian educator is an institution or a programme which provides education, research, training and/or accreditation of prior learning/work experience. on humanitarian action. These programmes can be at universities (undergraduate to postgraduate levels), adult education programmes, NGO internal programmes, humanitarian trainings provided by State agencies and private enterprises.

The synergies and gaps were defined as a collective of strengths and potentialities of each of the partner countries with respect to humanitarian activity and humanitarian education measured in terms of enabling contexts (i.e. historical events that have shaped humanitarian policies and priorities), typology of actors (i.e. predominant humanitarian stakeholder groups), interaction between humanitarian stakeholders, potentialities in skills and competencies provided by humanitarian educators.

Mapping European Humanitarian Potentialities was thus a composite of humanitarian actors and humanitarian educators mapped at the country and the EU levels. In addition, an analysis of the synergies and gaps identified the Europe’s strengths in Humanitarian Action and the key challenges to improve professionalization of humanitarian action.

Methodology and Research Process

The analytical framework was operationalized through a systems approach where each country profile was a constituent of the European map of humanitarian potentialities. The study was conducted in 4 distinct stages:

  1. Development of the analytical framework with indicators and the study framework for data collection,
  2. The Pilot Study and refining the indicators based on preliminary findings,
  3. Collection of country level data on humanitarian actors and humanitarian educators,
  4. Qualitative analysis of country profiles to identify synergies and potentialities.

The data collection process was carried out through country level ‘surveillance teams’ in each of the 30 partner institutions in EU and the associated countries. The team comprised of an experienced researcher and research assistants who compiled primary and secondary data on humanitarian actors and key features of humanitarian action in each country. Data was collected through surveys and structured questionnaires based on the findings of the pilot study. The key sources of information were:

  • Secondary data through internet‐ based research of publications and websites (> 60%),
  • Experienced researcher’s knowledge (27%),
  • Interviews with key humanitarian stakeholders.

A quantitative and qualitative data analysis was carried out to scale and the nature of humanitarian actors, educators, synergies and potentialities. SPSS and Excel softwares were used to analyse the data.

Key Challenges

The following key challenges were identified as part of the mapping exercise:

  • Developing a comprehensive definition of humanitarian activity that can be applied throughout EU countries,
  • Collating large volume of qualitative data on ‘quantitative’ type questions (e.g. total number of humanitarian professionals, total expenditure etc),
  • Sourcing information on identified humanitarian actors and educators (e.g. list of training courses delivered by NGOs) and
  • Management, monitoring and updating the European Map of Humanitarian Potentialities.

HA Map was developed as part of European Universities on Professionalization on Humanitarian Action (EUPRHA) project. More information

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