Most number of people in need of aid in Ethiopia, Yemen, DRC & Afghanistan in 2021

Need for humanitarian aid reached an all-time high during January 2018-December 2021

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Thursday 15 September 2022
The largest populations in need in 2021 were in four countries: Report Photo: iStock

The largest populations in need of humanitarian aid were in Ethiopia, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Afghanistan in 2021, according to a new report. 

There was considerable variation in the proportion of people in need that the humanitarian system aimed to assist, as well as the number of people it estimated it could reach, the report showed 

The State of the Humanitarian System is an independent study led by the ALNAP, a global network of humanitarian agencies. It compiled statistics on the size, shape and scope of the humanitarian system and assessed overall performance and progress.

The need for humanitarian aid reached an all-time high during January 2018-December 2021 due to war, hunger, climate change and the economic impacts of COVID-19, the report showed.

The number of people targeted for aid in humanitarian appeals grew each year since 2017, but the average funding required and received per person was much lower in 2021 compared to 2017, according to the findings.

The year 2021 saw a high variation in appeals between countries, both in the amount required and in the percentage of funds received. 

Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, DRC, Mali, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have had humanitarian appeals every year from 2012 to 2021.

In 2021, under the response plans and appeals where figures on reach were available, the humanitarian system reached an estimated 46 per cent of the people it identified to be in need and 69 per cent of those it targeted for assistance.

The need for food security accounted for 40 per cent of all humanitarian aid requirements last year, according to the report.

The health sector saw an obvious peak in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and protection. Water, sanitation and hygiene as well as education sectors have steadily increased year-on-year since 2018.

In 2021, 39 per cent of survey respondents said they were satisfied with the amount of aid they received, compared to 43 per cent in the previous study period. 

Refugees were 60 per cent less likely than other groups to express satisfaction with the amount of aid they received, the report said.

A lack of physical access affects the picture of needs as well as the reach of aid. Insecurity, logistics, assertive authorities and COVID-related restrictions on movement prevented assessments from taking place in many contexts.

One grim manifestation of these challenges is the rise of attacks on aid workers. In the four years from 2017 and 2020, there was a 54 per cent rise in the number of aid workers attacked. 

The overall international humanitarian assistance almost doubled to $31.3 billion in 2021 from $16.4 billion in 2012. But plateauing funding and access challenges are making it harder to meet their needs. 

An estimated 80 per cent of international aid is directed to countries facing some combination of conflict, disaster, displacement or disease, the authors noted in the report. 

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.