OCHA by the numbers inspired by this peacock

I had to learn a couple of things when I joined OCHA’s Visual Information Unit just over one year ago: deal with strange visitors at my window and interesting requests. For the first few months at my new office, I had this peacock and its family, allowed to roam freely on grounds of the UN, showing up either knocking its beak on the window or trying to jump on to the scaffolding. Not only was this unsettling, it was also the time when I was asked to work on the ‘OCHA by the numbers’ graphic for the 2013 annual report.

It was kind of like “hey you’re the new guy… here’s a project that you can work on for the annual report”. I was like “no pressure, right?” especially since annual reports are usually a big deal particular when it comes to justifying how money and funds were spent over the course of the year and a way to look for more. On top of all this was the fact that I was just given a MS Word document full of numbers and stats that I had to make sense of. And it didn’t help that the peacock would pass by everyday to look into our office window.


Maybe it was the way the bird has two distinct looks to it, and since this was for the corporate report, that I decided to split the graphic into two sections to highlight to readers what were the priorities for the organization and how the funds were spent. While the big numbers and country silhouettes provided visual interest to the one-pager, I really enjoyed working on the bar charts made of little squares which each represent USD 10 million – not the easiest thing to do as a bit of math was involved to make sure that the number of row and columns fit nicely in the space I had. One thing I found most interesting working on these charts was the comparison between how much funding was required by the humanitarian community to respond to crises and disasters and how little OCHA uses to achieve its mission to:

  • Mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies.
  • Advocate the rights of people in need.
  • Promote preparedness and prevention.
  • Facilitate sustainable solutions.

Download the PDF version here on the 2013 OCHA Annual Report website… Some credit should go to the peacock for the inspiration!

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