Call for papers for Humanitarian Alternatives twelfth issue

N°12 – November 2019: Demography and humanitarian aid

In view of the publication of its twelfth issue, to be released in November 2019, Humanitarian Alternativesis calling for papers under its next focus theme “Demography and humanitarian aid”. If you are an actor, a researcher or an observer of the international humanitarian community and wish to submit a proposal for an article, please send us a summary and the outline of the paper (2 pages maximum) before July 5 at the following address: contact@alternatives-humanitaires.orgWe will respond on July 15, at the latest.

The final deadline for submitting the article is September 2019. Please observe that the article must be around 15 000 characters, including spaces (approximately 2,400 words).

Statement of issues for the “Focus” theme

A Focus theme co-led by
Vincent Léger, Docteur en anthropologie, Chargé de recherche à laFondation Croix-Rouge française.

By 2050, the world population will have grown by 2,5 billion, and the proportion over 60 years will have doubled from about 11% to 22%. The absolute number of people aged 60 years and over is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. There will be a sharp increase in displacements due to climate change. By 2050, if no measures are taken, there will be more than 143 million climate migrants in Sub-Saharan Africa (86 million), South Asia (40 million) and Latin America (17 million). Today, one in three urban dwellers lives in an informal area and, according to the United Nations, about 180,000 people migrate to cities every day. In Africa and Asia, the urban population will double between 2000 and 2030, and 50% of Africa’s population will be living in an urban environment by 2050 (against 38% today).

Certain demographic phenomena, such as the ageing of the world population, migration, urbanisation, demographic growth or poverty, have become visibly strong trends and are developing at a surprisingly fast rate. They are generating new needs and an increasingly large gap between initial forecasts and the means planned to address them – and they are obliging all stakeholders to adapt accordingly.

This issue of Humanitarian Alternatives aims at reviewing today’s major demographic trends and look at what demography can teach us about the current and future challenges facing humanitarian aid operators. How can demography – the statistical study of human populations – give us a clearer understanding, a different perspective on humanitarian issues and actions and improve our approach to them?

Furthermore, dubious data, farfetched demographic projections or the communication of statistics that have been skewed to suit political agendas are causing fear and helping to cultivate clichés and false representations of certain populations or phenomena, making the humanitarian assistance intended for them more difficult to deliver. We need to deconstruct the kind of alarming statistics that trigger these reactions and explain how they are produced so that we can distinguish cataclysmic predictions (“massive influx of migrants”, “demographic explosion”, etc.) from previsions that can be of real use in preparing the humanitarian actions of tomorrow.

Finally, some humanitarian actors now use demographic research tools to gather, process and analyse data on the socio-demographic characteristics of their beneficiaries (especially in refugee camps), making findings that help them adjust and improve their interventions. So, how do NGOs get hold of this key data? How do they use it? In short, why did they feel the need to become demographers?