Towards a culturally competent humanitarian assistance


  • Mirette Bahgat



cultural competence, humanitarian aid


This article examines the opportunities and challenges of integrating cultural competency into humanitarian assistance. While it is imperative for humanitarian organisations and workers to fully understand and consider ethnocultural dynamics and diversity in the communities they serve and plan their work accordingly, cultural competency is still deprioritised and overlooked when planning and implementing a humanitarian assistance response. The article goes through the evolution of cultural competency concepts and how far humanitarian assistance responses throughout the years have succeeded in working effectively in multicultural contexts, exploring their commitments to cultural competency in the face of competing priorities, limited resources, centralised decision-making, tight schedules and the urgency to deliver services at once. The challenges of integrating cultural competency into humanitarian assistance are further elaborated, and key actionable recommendations are drawn to guide organisational practice.


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Author Biography

  • Mirette Bahgat

    Mirette is a humanitarian program manager at World Vision Canada. With more than 10 years of experience working in global responses, she is a strong advocate for locally driven and culturally competent humanitarian assistance for all.


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How to Cite

“Towards a culturally competent humanitarian assistance” (2023) The Humanitarian Leader, 5(1), p. Working paper 040, October, 2023. doi:10.21153/thl2023art1898.