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Diaspora organizations and their humanitarian response in Pakistan

Date de publication

This case study is part of the Diaspora Emergency Action and Coordination Platform's (DEMAC) "Research study on diaspora humanitarian response and engagement".

Recurring floods, droughts, earthquakes and epidemics all make the humanitarian operating environment challenging in Pakistan. Ongoing unrest and conflict have an exacerbating effect. With over 10 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021, the humanitarian response in Pakistan is led by the government in collaboration with the key humanitarian actors.

With over nine million individuals, the Pakistani diaspora is the seventh largest immigrant population in the world. Remittances form the first and immediate diaspora response in times of crisis, moving beyond families to vulnerable community members. The most common type of diaspora organizations are formal charities, well established in their countries of residence, active mainly in development in addition to scaling up for humanitarian response as needed. Another type of diaspora organization often active in humanitarian response are those organized by the same profession, such as those from the health or education fields.

This case study identified 24 Pakistani diaspora organizations that were active regularly in humanitarian response, with one half based in North America and the other half in Europe, the Middle East and Australia. At least half had offices or representatives in Pakistan and formal structures and set-ups. A commonality of all 24 diaspora organizations assessed was that they were primarily supported through direct fundraising by the diaspora in their countries of residence. Other funding sources were from private companies, foundations and institutional donors to a lesser extent.

Although diaspora organizations did coordinate with the humanitarian sector and authorities, their planning and selection of beneficiaries were largely carried out independently. Most diaspora organizations relied on their staff, volunteers or partners on the ground to identify needs and beneficiaries. Diaspora organizations have adopted different transparency and accountability approaches, often depending upon demands of their supporters, such as conducting field visits at different intervals and providing regular progress reports.

Gaps and challenges identified in the humanitarian response of diaspora organizations included adhering to humanitarian principles and standards, capacity limitations, administrative issues and recognition as diaspora organizations.

Disclaimer DEMAC – Diaspora Emergency Action & Coordination

DEMAC is a global initiative aiming at enhancing mutual knowledge and coordination, communication and coherence between diaspora humanitarian actors and the institutional humanitarian system. DEMAC initiative is hosted by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and funded by USAID (BHA).