Geopolitical codes | Sectoral codes | Indicator codes | Emergency identifiers | Organisation identifiers | Demographic codes | Project and activity codes | Dates

For full interoperability, different datasets need to share the same values for the same things (e.g. the code for a prefecture of Guinea, or for a humanitarian cluster). This page lists some sources for taxonomies, code lists, and special formats useful for humanitarian data, but there are, obviously, many more.

Geopolitical codes

ISO 3166-1 Country codes (#country+code, #country+code+iso3)
This standard includes three types of code for each country, a three-letter alphabetic code (e.g. SYR for Syria), a two-letter alphabetic code (e.g. SY), and a numeric code (e.g. 760). Humanitarian data uses mainly the three-letter versions, while the two-letter versions are familiar from Internet top-level domains (except that “GB” for Great Britain changes to “UK” for the Internet domains).
United Nations p-codes (#adm1+code, #adm2+code+pcode, etc.)
The UN Secretariat’s Humanitarian Office maintains lists of subnational codes for countries that have international humanitarian responses. These codes are much-more granular than the ISO 3166-2 codes, and the majority of humanitarian datasets use them. The code list is not (yet) available in a single place, but is embedded in various geographical datasets.

Sectoral codes

IASC international clusters (#sector+code, #sector+code+cluster)
IASC clusters are both thematic identifiers and organisational structures for coordinating a humanitarian response. Many humanitarian organisations work within the cluster system, and it is common to classify humanitarian needs and responses by cluster.
OECD DAC sector classifications (#sector+code, #sector+code+dac)
A multi-level taxonomy of purpose codes by sector and subsector(s), maintained by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), e.g. “110” for Education (in general), “112” for Education/Basic Education, and “11240” for Education/Basic Education/Early childhood education.

Indicator codes

IASC indicators registry (#indicator+code, #indicator+code+iasc)
426 humanitarian indicators defined by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee for each IASC Cluster (e.g. “AAP-3” for “Number of persons consulted (disaggregated by sex/age) before designing a program/project [alternatively: while implementing the program/project]”). Many of the indicators have PDF documentation with detailed guidance.
Proposed SDG indicators (#indicator+code, #indicator+code+sdgs)
Non-final list of indicators and codes for the inter-governmental Sustainable Development Goals, e.g. “1.5.2” for the Proportion of health and educational facilities affected by hazardous events.

Emergency identifiers

GLIDEnumber (#crisis+code, #crisis+code+glide)
A unique number assigned to a humanitarian crisis, e.g. “OT-2011-000025-SYR” for the complex crisis in Syria. Originally, GLIDE focussed mainly on non-conflict crises such as natural disasters or epidemics, but members have increasingly been creating GLIDE numbers for conflict situations as well. GLIDE numbers are widely used in the humanitarian community.

Organisation identifiers

OCHA FTS organisation codes (#org+code, #org+code+fts)
An XML-format file listing codes for over 7,000 aid-related organisations, e.g. “14406” for the Dura Islamic Society for the Orphans.
OECD DAC Donor and agency codes (#org+code, #org+code+dac)
Identifiers for national donors and major aid agencies, from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), e.g. “966” for the World Food Programme

Global Database of Humanitarian Organisations (#org+code, #org+code+gdho)
A database of organisations that have responded to at least one humanitarian emergency, downloadable in Excel format. The GDHO has unique integer identifiers for each organisation.

Demographic codes

IASC Humanitarian Profile (#affected, #inneed, #targeted, #reached)
A classification system for casualties and displaced populations, from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. Also known as the Humanitarian Caseload. The classification words provide a good basis for HXL attribute names, e.g. #affected+displaced+idp, #affected+missing.

Project and activity codes

IATI activity status (#status)
A series of numeric codes for the lifecycle of a project or activity: 1 for Pipeline/identification, 2 for Implementation, 3 for Completion, etc.
IATI aid types
A classification system for how an organisation is spending a quantity of aid money, e.g. B03 for Contributions to specific-purpose programmes and funds managed by international organisations (multilateral, INGO).


ISO 8601 Representation of dates and times (#date)
There is a huge risk of confusion over dates in humanitarian datasets: for example, does “1/9/15” represent 1 September 2015 or 9 January 2015? The only safe and reliable method for encoding dates is the ISO 8601 standard, and specifically, the W3 subset of ISO 8601. Examples: “2015” (the year 2015), “2015-09” (September 2015), “2015-09-01” (1 September 2015). There are also advanced encodings for weeks (e.g. “2015-W03” for the third week of 2015), durations (e.g. “P1Y3M” represents a 1 year, 3 month duration), etc. To avoid confusion, please always use ISO 8601 dates in humanitarian data sets.