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Humanitarian Aid & Relief

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Careers in Humanitarian Aid and Relief

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The lesser developed parts of our world are plagued by famine, malnutrition, poor water quality, and poor sanitation, as well as AIDS, TB, malaria, and other deadly diseases. These problems frequently overlap, particularly in the poorest regions of Africa, India, and South America. Extreme weather conditions greatly harm the global poor. A region with drought or flood conditions will be unable to effectively grow crops and oftentimes the starving citizens will even resort to eating their seed stocks – hurting the next year’s planting season, and reinforcing the cycle of poverty and suffering. Weak educational systems also greatly contribute to suffering. The Western world for the most part only reads about or sees these horrific humanitarian situations on TV – but they are an everyday reality for many millions of our fellow humans.

Humanitarian relief is an extraordinarily complex subject. There are organizations that are in the field every day saving current or at-risk hungry people, diseased people, war victims, and/or the uneducated masses. Humanitarian aid and relief is necessary to bring life-saving skills and technologies to Third World countries and to refugees and displaced people due to natural disasters or war both domestically and around the world.

Qualifications Necessary

Those wishing to enter this field should earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs, International Development, or Environmental Science and feel a strong dedication to change the world to make it a better place to live and a desire to serve others by doing good works. These are the people who become experts in helping desperately poor people in underdeveloped countries find permanent solutions to hunger and poverty, as well as helping domestically when disaster occurs. Candidates must demonstrate business acumen, personal diplomacy and basic toughness. Other necessary qualifications for some positions include two or three years of experience in the developing world and the requisite foreign language skills.

Potential Employers

*Note that this is a very limited sample of Humanitarian Aid providers*

Online Resources

  • The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) - - supports sustainable development in developing countries, and this site includes information on employment at CIDA and its related organizations.
  • - - is a gateway to job listings in international development, environment, information technology for development, relief and reconstruction, and consultancy assignments.
  • GlobalCorps - - matches development, humanitarian and disaster relief professionals with organizations looking for these individuals. The organization helps recruit for The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the office within USAID that is responsible for providing non-food humanitarian assistance in response to international crises and disasters.
  • - is a project of Action Without Borders and contains job listings in economic development, social services, human rights, environment and more. Users can search for jobs and internships by country, state and city.
  • Interaction - - is the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations, with more than 160 members operating in every developing country.
  • International Career Employment Weekly - - identifies international development jobs and internships in all sectors of the market around the world.
  • - A tool to assist job-seekers in their search for international employment at organizations such as the UN, International Criminal Court, International Labour Organization, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, World Bank and World Health Organization.
  • Public Health Jobs Worldwide - - lists most of its jobs and internships in the organization's newspaper, although some jobs are listed on their website.
  • OneWorld International Foundation - - offers job and internship listings at non-profit and international organizations dedicated to harnessing the democratic potential of the Internet to promote human rights and sustainable development.
  • - - provides information on and links to humanitarian aid websites; it allows users to access the site to search for humanitarian jobs worldwide.
  • ReliefWeb - - run by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, provides international job listings at nonprofits dedicated to humanitarian relief, conflict resolution, health and more
  • US Department of State - lists the categories of State department employees and how to apply for these positions.
  • USAID - - site features a list of vacancies and internships


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