Where do soldiers deliver aid?


A number of years ago I was attending a security training for humanitarians. This was offered by the Irish army.

Over lunch, a few soldiers and aid workers got to talking about how these actors interact in the context of a humanitarian crisis, how each are often confused by the other. One soldier mentioned a thesis his colleague wrote about this topic. It was called, the clowns and the acrobats, (or something to that effect). It talked about how in these environments, humanitarians see themselves as the acrobats (skilled, aware, professional & capable) and see the military as the clowns (clumsy, unaware of what is going on, plodding around with their big feet and making a mess). The military believed the inverse, i.e. The military were the acrobats and the humanitarians were the clowns. It proved to a very interesting chat.



There are two categories of countries displayed here, donors and recipients. Recipients are displayed in yellow-red and donors in blue.

The dynamics between the military and humanitarian agencies in emergency contexts has been a constant debate in recent years, especially since the military undertook many of the traditional humanitarian tasks in Iraq and Afghanistan. So how much is spent, by whom and where. We used data from the OECD DAC CRS database to create a map for easier interpretation.

It will not be a surprise to the reader that the U.S is clearly the largest donor, spending over US$1. 1 billion on military delivering of humanitarian aid. However it is news to the author that Australia  (US$115 million) and Spain (US$58 million) should feature so highly in the rankings. Is this as a result of peacekeeping operations or other spending? Clarification welcomed in the comments.

The usual suspects appear in the rankings for recipients of funding for military delivered aid. The U.S military played a very visible role in Haiti (US$381 million) following the earthquake, and apparently there was a bit of trouble in Afghanistan (US$ 275 million) and Iraq (US$ 126 million) in the past few years. Since the opening up of Myanmar it appears to be much more acceptable to offer military aid etc. But US$15 million of military delivered aid was donated to Myanmar between 2006-2010. Can you, dear reader, suggest who did this and why?