Humanitarian-to-Humanitarian Organizations
Humanitarian-to-humanitarian organizations (H2Hs), which have grown in prominence in recent years, provide behind-the-scenes support to the more visible front-line agencies that deliver humanitarian aid to those in need. These auxiliary organizations are usually dedicated to specific services, which allows other aid organizations to focus on their own strengths and avoid reinventing the wheel. Networks of these H2H organizations (modeled after ‘business-to-business’ or B2B networks) work together to provide services such as logistics, standardization, mapping and more to other aid agencies. Many of them are part of a Swiss group known as The H2H Network, described in its annual report. According to the H2H Network, humanitarian-to-humanitarian organizations fall into four different categories in terms of the types of support they provide. Here are some examples of organizations in each of these categories.

Humanitarian-to-Humanitarian Organization Categories

  1. Data, Information Management and Analysis. Some H2H organizations collect, manage and distribute data. For example, Evidence Aid provides summaries of academic articles on current research that is relevant to aid workers. Data Friendly Space helps aid organizations with tasks such as designing user interfaces and developing data analytics. For example, in 2019, it used AI to revamp the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre’s analytics process, which big data had recently overwhelmed.
  2. Community Engagement and Accountability. Some H2H organizations, such as BBC Media Action, Internews and C-DAC, work to develop communication and cooperation between aid groups and communities. They will provide services such as public relations, translation, communications in disaster zones and accountability feedback. For example, groups including BBC Media Action and Translators Without Borders are combating COVID-19 misinformation in several countries in South and Southeast Asia, through social media and community outreach.
  3. Security, Logistics and Programme Support. The H2H Network members from this department aim to build significant efficiency in the department of security and the management of resources. For example, several of these organizations manage logistics by facilitating better connections between supply and demand and producing items locally. Others, on the other hand, provide information on the threats pertaining to areas of high risk. The Humanitarian-to-Humanitarian organizations in this category include Aviation Sans Frontières and Humanitarian Logistics Association. HLA has been able to release guidance on how to ship humanitarian goods into Ukraine safely. In contrast, every year, thanks to ASF, around 600 seriously ill children have received access to treatments in European hospitals for operations that cannot be administered locally.
  4. Quality and Sector Professionalization: H2H Organizations are dedicated to improving learning across the field. They do so by establishing a general standard of what is adequate and desirable for the services that aid organizations provide. They also help individuals in dangerous environments to develop survival skills that allow them to handle and recover from natural and artificial disasters. One such organization is RedR U.K., which provides training and technical expertise to NGOs, aid workers and communities responding to humanitarian emergencies. Following the 2021 earthquake in Haiti, after conducting a quick learning needs assessment, RedR U.K. developed and implemented a training program to enhance the response’s effectiveness. Among the participants were representatives from aid organizations from sectors such as health, protection, education and food security. More than 90% of participants reported that they learned new skills and gained new knowledge from attending the training.

Looking Ahead

Humanitarian-to-Humanitarian organizations increasingly work toward the improvement and success of the humanitarian system and are crucial for the development of an even stronger and more successful humanitarian order. As in the words of Kim Scriver, director of the H2H network, “Often… we talk about system change in terms of… big heavy policy processes. H2H actors provide an important counterpoint to that. They are in the system but at the edge of it, able to demonstrate different [kinds of] change.”

– Caterina Rossi
Photo: Flickr

Instability in Burkina Faso
After the Burkina Faso September military coup, United States President Joe Biden cut Burkina Faso from The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The political instability in Burkina Faso that prompted the AGOA removal designates Burkina Faso as a blacklisted, non-democratic nation. The recent political instability in Burkina Faso led to the loss of U.S. trade, economic aid and military support.

AGOA is U.S. legislation approved in May 2000, to support sub-Saharan African economies and improve economic relations between those countries and the U.S. The AGOA provides sub-Saharan African nations with U.S. duty-free access to more than 1,800 products. That allowance is beyond the more than 5,000 duty-free products under the Generalized System of Preferences program.

Background of Political Instability

Political instability and limitations in both trade and humanitarian aid are not new issues in Burkina Faso. In fact, the September coup was the second one in 2021. Army captain Ibrahim Traore seized power from military leader President Paul-Henri  Damiba in September, citing “his inability to deal with an armed uprising in the country that has worsened in the past nine months.” However, Burkina Faso was already experiencing effects from the first coup, in which Damiba orchestrated an uprising against President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January. At that time, the U.S. paused a $450 million aid effort.

The political instability in Burkina Faso could exacerbate already desperate conditions. During seven years of radicalized military terror with connections to ISIL and al-Qaeda, the hunger crisis intensified. In fact, the United Nations has even reported that “the humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso has become so dire that some women and children have eaten only leaves and salt for weeks.” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martha Griffiths claimed that “Growing insecurity and blockades in many areas have left communities cut off from the rest of the country and facing growing hunger. Aid workers are struggling to reach these people who need assistance.”

Economic and Military Impact of Political Instability in Burkina Faso

The removal of Burkina Faso from the AGOA is particularly relevant for those concerned with U.S. legislative foreign aid decisions because legally if the U.S. State Department determines a democratically-elected government experienced an unconstitutional removal, the U.S. must suspend all non-humanitarian aid. Importantly, the U.S. is Burkina Faso’s largest international donor.

Burkina Faso also lost access to the markets of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) markets. ECOWAS is the trade union of West African states and it strongly condemned the coup and pushed for elections as quickly as possible.  It claimed that Burkina Faso was close to restoring constitutional order so the coup was incredibly “inopportune.” Journalist Sam Mednick  claimed, “If Traore is not going to be able to show tangible progress quickly, people say he’s going to be ousted just like his predecessor.”

Militarily, the U.S. also provides surveillance, intelligence, air support to the French who intervened against militants in the Sahel. The U.S. also provides intermittent training to Burkina Faso’s security forces. Elizabeth Shackelford, a senior foreign policy fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggested that because military support has not proved productive, the U.S. and its partners should put funding and effort into supporting democracy-fostering institutions.

Positives

Luckily, the European Union (EU) is still earmarking funds for aid in Burkina Faso. Specifically, the EU has set aside 52.4 million euros to address food insecurity, malnutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, education and disaster preparedness. International non-governmental organizations will also still be able to provide aid. For example, Save the Children focus on Burkina Faso education, public health and protection. Specifically, for public health, Save the Children advocates for “universal access to health care and an increase in the health budget.” In regard to nutrition, it supports food assistance programs. For malnutrition, it provides screening and long-term care for affected children and families.

Outlook for the Future

Political instability in Burkina Faso is jeopardizing specialized aid to fight jihadism. Burkina Faso’s recent unconstitutional coups resulted in the cessation of all non-humanitarian aid in compliance with U.S. law.  Fortunately, the EU and international non-governmental organizations continue their support for Burkina Faso’s citizens plagued by political instability and its effects. Hunger, education and public health are often the primary focuses of many of these organizations, and if these programs remain operational, perhaps Burkina Faso can persevere until the political instability subsides.

– Braden Hampton
Photo: Flickr

The United Nations' Fight Against Poverty
The United Nations’ fight against poverty began as early as 1945. The U.N. General Assembly declared the years 1997 to 2006 as the First United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. The Second U.N. Decade for the Eradication of Poverty then ran from 2008 to 2017 and the Third U.N. Decade for the Eradication of Poverty began in 2018 with an end date of 2027. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed by U.N. member states in September 2000, is a commitment from global leaders to “combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.” The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) formed part of this Declaration and set targets to reach by 2015.

Progress in Reducing Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The target of reducing global extreme poverty rates by 50% occurred “five years ahead of the 2015 deadline,” the U.N. website notes. Since 1990, more than 1 billion individuals rose out of extreme poverty. Close to 50% of people in underdeveloped countries in 1990 survived on less than $1.25 per day. In 2015, this rate declined to 14%.

Furthermore, since 1990, the percentage of undernourished individuals in developing regions has decreased by about 50%. However, the percentage of employed working-age people reduced from 62% in 1991 to 60% in 2015, with a particularly notable decline occurring during the global recession of 2008/2009.

Here are three significant programs and funds aiding in the United Nations’ fight against poverty.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

A pledge to “eradicate poverty everywhere, in all its forms and dimensions by 2030” is at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which came about in 2015 after the MDG deadline. The UNDP is the “U.N.’s global development network” that works across 170 nations and territories to help further the SDGs. Its work also centers around “democratic governance and peacebuilding” as well as “climate and disaster resilience.”

From 2019 to 2021, thanks to the UNDP, 71 million individuals in 36 nations obtained “access to essential services” and labor market policies safeguarded 1 million jobs globally, the UNDP website highlights.

About 81 nations adopted “policies based on COVID-19 socio-economic impact assessments” and “82 countries adopted more than 580 digital solutions for e-commerce and e-governance.” While “2.4 million rural households in 33 countries benefited from clean, affordable and sustainable energy,” about 3 million individuals across 29 nations “benefited from jobs and improved livelihoods in crisis or post-crisis settings,” the UNDP website notes.

UNICEF

In more than 190 nations and territories, UNICEF strives to protect children’s lives, uphold their rights and assist them in realizing their full potential from infancy through adolescence. Thanks to UNICEF, several million children by 1950 received “garments made of wool, leather and cotton” and more than 6 million received meals on a daily basis.

By 1973, UNICEF had assisted approximately 70 nations in reducing the number of deaths resulting from ingesting contaminated water. The Child Survival and Development Revolution, which UNICEF started in 1982, aimed to save more children by implementing four main strategies: tracking development, delivering immunizations, encouraging breastfeeding and providing oral rehydration therapy.

Compared to the end of World War II, life expectancy rates had climbed by more than 33% by 1993. A rise in school attendance coincided with a sharp decline in child mortality rates. The standard of living was also fast increasing; many households who had previously struggled to find clean water now had easy access. More recently, in 2012, polio saw eradication in India thanks to UNICEF’s global immunization program for the poor. Africa celebrated one year without any confirmed cases of polio on August 11, 2015.

World Food Programme (WFP)

The WFP is the largest humanitarian organization in the world, saving lives in dire situations and utilizing food aid to create a road to peace, stability and prosperity for those recovering from war, natural disasters and the effects of environmental changes.

The WFP collaborates with governments and humanitarian partners on the front lines, responding to an increasing number of disasters, such as droughts and floods, which can destroy crops, disrupt markets and demolish roads and bridges. The WFP also implements preventative measures that lessen the number of people in need of humanitarian aid. In 2021, 12.2 million individuals from 47 different nations benefited from climate risk management strategies, including 2.7 million in 14 nations who were insured against climate-related risks.

The WFP has shifted its emphasis in recent years from emergency interventions to tackling all types of malnutrition, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, overweight and obesity. In 2021, 23.5 million people, a 36% increase from 2020, mostly children, pregnant and lactating females, benefited from WFP programs to treat or prevent malnutrition.

Smallholder farmers produce most of the world’s food yet also ironically suffer from hunger. In 2021, WFP and partners provided assistance to around 947,000 smallholder farmers in 44 countries. In 2021, WFP purchased 117,000 metric tons of food from smallholder farmers in 27 countries, valued at $51.9 million.

Looking Ahead in the United Nations’ Fight Against Poverty

Apart from these three programs, other U.N. initiatives also play a significant role in supporting the world’s most impoverished. For example, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, U.N. Women and U.N.-Habitat. The World Bank, the IMF, the WHO, the ILO, the FAO and other U.N. Specialized Agencies play a significant part in addressing emerging global issues. Overall, the United Nations has had a positive influence on the eradication of poverty worldwide.

– Karisma Maran
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Use of Nuclear Technology
Signed in 1968 and implemented in 1970, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has been a lasting, positive force in regulating nuclear weapons internationally and foregrounding the humanitarian use of nuclear technology. Since its conception, the U.S. has not only been committed to upholding the initial conditions of the treaty but also expanding its efforts through the support of organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF). Further development of nuclear techniques in agriculture, environmental preservation and medicine all contribute to improving living conditions and reducing poverty in less developed countries.

History of US Support

Since the treaty went into effect in 1970, the involved parties met every five years to discuss its renewal until it was extended indefinitely in the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. It has been largely effective, with nuclear weapons stockpile falling by 88% in the U.S. and 80% globally since 1986.

However, it was not until more recently that the members of the NPT began working more vigorously in their efforts to aid in meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Though humanitarian use of nuclear technology has been central to the NPT since its founding, in 2010 the IAEA introduced the Peaceful Use Initiative (PUI) as a way of generating even more funding in support of these goals. The U.S. is the leading contributor to the PUI, donating $395 million to the initiative since 2015 and pledging another $50 million over five years in November 2020.

Lastly, at the most recent NPT Conference in August 2022, the U.S. and 29 other countries gave $3.9 million to launch the “Sustained Dialogue on Peaceful Uses” and delegated its operations to the CRDF.

Success in Reducing Hunger and Improving Quality of Life

Nuclear technology can benefit humanity in a myriad of ways. Scientists have made great strides in increasing yields in agricultural production. Using various techniques, they have discovered ways of making hardier, more resistant crops, maximizing water use efficiency, reducing populations of invasive insect species that kill crops, cleaning crops through irradiation and diagnosing livestock with dangerous illnesses. It has also been very useful for understanding and protecting the environment and, of course, medicine.

Various governments and organizations across the world have been able to implement technologies like these because of U.S. funding. For example, more than $8.4 million that the U.S. provided to the PUI fund helped Vietnamese authorities combat a swine fever outbreak in their livestock using nuclear technology. Another instance is in 2017 when the IAEA used $6 million of U.S.-backed funds to develop more nutrient-rich crops as a means of reducing malnutrition in Sierra Leone. Additionally, in March 2019 $4.3 million in U.S. support went to the development of isotope hydrology, a cutting technique that “allow(s) national experts to identify and assess the availability of groundwater resources.” These are just a few of the ways that U.S. support has been instrumental in the proliferation of the humanitarian use of nuclear technology.

Looking Forward

International cooperation to further develop the peaceful use of nuclear technology is essential in the fight against poverty, and U.S. financial support is instrumental for organizations like the IAEA and CRDF to continue innovating and implementing these solutions.

– Xander Heiple
Photo: Flickr

Decolonize Aid
Many activists that believe in decolonizing aid claim that the global aid system has roots in a colonialist framework. This may be the reason humanitarian efforts sometimes manifest unfavorably, in forms like racial inequity. The effort to decolonize aid predominantly means allocating more money, recognition and power to localized efforts and grassroots organizations within affected communities.

Inequities Within Global Development and Aid

Many activists have brought to light the racial disparities within the aid system. Activist Kennedy Odede asserts that in comparison to white-led institutions, limited funding restricts Black founders and their organizations. Odede quotes research that Echoing Green and Bridgespan conducted and says that Black-led organizations have unrestricted net assets that are “76% smaller than their white-led counterparts.” Degan Ali is an African activist and humanitarian leader who believes that the current aid system is rooted in “colonial hierarchies of the past.” As an effect, “the U.N. and international NGOs… who are predominantly Westerners and mostly white people” dominate the global aid.

Governments of the Global South and local communities of color lack representation in the dominating institutions, and thus are largely absent in the decision-making. Odede also points out that these white-led institutions are largely responsible for shaping “the development and social entrepreneurship” of African communities. Ali claims that certain organizations and agencies “monopolizing the spotlight” overshadow the local efforts and responses to crises “that affected communities undertake.” As a result, Odede also quotes that “only 3% of all humanitarian funding goes to local and national NGOs” in Africa.

Colonial Hierarchies and Recipients of Aid

Just as the “colonial hierarchies” within global aid manifest as racial inequity within funding and representation, it can also effectively sustain an image of the “passive recipient” of aid, which is conventionally understood to be lower-income countries in the Global South. Ali and other activists believe that in order to move away from the “passive recipient” image, local communities in the Global South who are the intended recipients of aid must instead receive empowerment as active agents in the development effort. Grassroots organizations and community leaders can surely benefit from the value of being viable delegators of aid, which include making decisions on investment and resource allocation. The involvement of local communities and leaders could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of aid. This is because communities themselves have a better understanding of the kind of aid they might find beneficial.

Grassroots and Localized Organizations in Kenya

Embodying the importance of localization and community-based aid, Degan Ali is one of the many crucial pioneers working to decolonize aid. Ali is the Executive Director of Adeso, a nonprofit NGO based in Kenya that intends to support African communities by providing direct and localized sources for development. Adeso was the first organization to provide Somalia with cash vouchers in 2002 and Ali claims that this decision came from a deep understanding of the local economy and communities’ needs during severe droughts in Somalia.

Kennedy Odede is another humanitarian activist that believes in the importance of community-based change. Odede is the founder and CEO of Kenya’s largest grassroots movement, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). SHOFCO maintains a focus on Kenya’s urban residents, and it is one grassroots organization that exemplifies the power of localized aid efforts. Through collective action and community organization, SHOFCO directly impacts and empowers 50 impoverished sites in Kenya, including 17 urban slums. The organization developed the SHOFCO Urban Network (SUN) organizing platform which prioritizes community-led development by working closely with local leaders located in every one of their targeted sites in Kenya. Through SUN, the organization was able to provide urban residents with “more than the [Kenyan] government could manage” during the COVID-19 pandemic; this included distributing food relief, masks and sanitizers and “installing hundreds of handwashing stations that reached over 2.5 million people.” 

The UN’s Grand Bargain

Degan Ali also established a global target of 20% localization, meaning that 20% of all funding provided by humanitarian and foreign aid agencies does directly to local communities. Ali’s advocacy “evolved into the U.N.’s 25% Grand Bargain commitment” in 2016. This agreement was established “between some of the largest donors and humanitarian organizations” and pushed for 25% of all humanitarian funding to be “allocated to local and national responders by 2020.” This commitment, whether explicitly intentional or not, acts as part of the effort to decolonize aid by furthering the localization agenda.

Signatories (donors and organizations) include “25 Member States, 23 NGOs, 12 U.N. agencies, two Red Cross movements and two inter-governmental organizations.” In 2020, 13 out of the 63 signatories “allocated 25% or more of their humanitarian funds to national/local responders as directly as possible.” A new structure for a Grand Bargain 2.0 was finalized in 2021 and claims to uphold two priorities when addressing humanitarian aid. One of the main priorities includes providing “greater support… for the leadership, delivery and capacity of local responders and the participation of affected communities.” 

Looking Ahead

Many activists and grassroots organizations are working towards a better, more equitable solution to humanitarian aid – one that involves greater funding and support for localized efforts. The activists are hoping to promote a new system that coincides with a global movement to decolonize aid. Decolonizing aid through localization has the ability to better tackle poverty and other crises by fostering greater autonomy within communities and directly addressing their preferred needs.

– Ashley Kim
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in Sudan
Sudan is a Northeast African nation that looks to the Red Sea, with a population that now stands at 45 million. Sudan as a nation has faced extreme adversity throughout its past, as the occupation of Sudan by Britain and Egypt until 1956 manifested a series of civil wars that have ravaged the nation. Today sees Sudan in a dire situation, an ongoing humanitarian crisis has now resulted in a state of turmoil – with poverty reduction in Sudan now representing one of the global priorities for humanitarian institutions to tackle.

Poverty in Sudan

Poverty reduction in Sudan today, represents one of the most challenging obstacles for the nation, as well as global aid institutions to tackle. The current situation in Sudan is a multifaceted issue, according to UNICEF: “COVID-19, flooding, rising food prices, conflict and disease outbreaks have left 13.4 million people – more than a quarter of Sudanese – in need of life-saving aid.” As of 2020, roughly 77% of the population of Sudan was living under the poverty line.

Several factors represent the causes of the current situation in Sudan. Firstly, a prominent history of civil war and conflict in the nation has caused untold bloodshed across the span of decades. Secondly, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would have a detrimental effect on the people of Sudan, as economically, the pandemic would further escalate the outstanding issues of low-wage income across the nation. Thirdly, after South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, a substantial number of Sudanese and South Sudanese were displaced as a result of the conflict.

Efforts to Reduce Poverty in Sudan

Humanitarian efforts in Sudan to tackle the ongoing and escalating crisis have remained one of the leading priorities in recent times. Leading financial global institutions such as The World Bank, have aided Sudan’s situation in setting up initiatives and projects that provide relief. The Sustainable Natural Resources Management Project, for example, which concludes in 2023, has provided invaluable assistance in promoting sustainable agriculture to provide much-needed water access to communities.

UNICEF has also played a vital role in poverty reduction in Sudan. According to data from the 2014 Household Budget and Poverty Survey, child poverty rates rose to 85% in 2020. To combat the extremely high rate of child poverty within Sudan, UNICEF introduced the Mother and Child Cash Transfer Plus initiative. This program helps to provide the most basic necessities to newborns and mothers, providing financial support, “health care, nutrition, water and sanitation, and child protection.”

In 2021, UNICEF released a Humanitarian Relief Statement highlighting the effectiveness of the important assistance provided. Among the most notable successes were increased access to education, improved sanitation and reduction in malnutrition.

The Future

Due to the unstable political situation that has enveloped Sudan over the past couple of years, the means of supplying humanitarian aid to Sudan has intensified. However, with growing hope that the situation has a solution, humanitarian efforts appear to represent the most viable option for poverty reduction in Sudan.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is currently in the process of attaining funds for its Humanitarian Response Plan. As of September 2022, the plan requires a further 68.5% of funding to meet its $1.9 billion total. The plan consists of 233 projects and will aim to reach 10.9 million people in 68 localities. As outlined in the plan, the three primary strategic objectives are to provide life-saving assistance and prevent mortality, to provide a greater service of basic amenities to vulnerable people and through humanitarian action, to lessen protection risks and needs.

– Jamie Garwood
Photo: Flickr

Poland's Foreign Aid
In a matter of decades, Poland has gone from being a recipient of foreign aid to a strong presence within the international donor community. Poland is not the only country to do this. China, India, Japan, Korea and Thailand have all undergone a similar recipient-to-donor transition. Just how did Poland and other former aid recipients transform into emerging or full-fledged aid donors? This article will provide a short history of Poland’s foreign aid in the hopes of shedding some light on the answer.

 The 1950s-1970s: A Soviet Donor Under Comecon

One of Poland’s earliest exercises in providing international aid was through the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, popularly known as Comecon. Founded in 1949, Comecon’s purpose was to strengthen economic cooperation and development among Eastern European countries. Alongside Poland, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania made up Comecon’s membership.

As far as general principles were concerned, Comecon’s preamble emphasized the idea of mutual economic assistance in favor of maintaining the stronghold of communism and socialism in the Eastern bloc. It was through Comecon that Poland first assumed its role as a donor and Poland’s foreign aid began.

The 1980s: Economic Crises and the Fall of the USSR

During the 1980s, an unprecedented economic and political crisis struck Poland. The causes of the country’s crisis had deep roots in its system of a planned economy and policy of forced industrialization.

By the end of 1981, Poland had accumulated a foreign debt of $27 billion. Polish standards of living continued to fall rapidly as the country’s economic struggles worsened until 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The few years after the fall of the USSR between 1990 and 1994 was when Poland could be said to have fully made the switch from Soviet donor to the beneficiary of the West. During this time, the G-24 and international financial institutions sent $36 billion in aid to Poland. The United States separately committed another $719 million in grant assistance.

The 1990s-2000s: Poland’s Recovery and Accession to the EU and OECD

Poland used its foreign assistance to restabilize and restructure its economy. Over the decades, it has even become one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. Poland’s process of accession to the European Union, which officially occurred in 2004, marked the beginning of its transition from that of a recipient to a donor.

Polish NGOs began to enter other parts of Eastern Europe to help their Western counterparts communicate with the local communities, according to a University of Cambridge Summary Paper. Polish NGOs then shifted from doing this to starting their own initiatives and establishing the national ODA (Official Development Assistance) structures.

Decades Later, Poland Gives Back

Poland has since become an active participant in global development cooperation.“Polish Aid” is one of Poland’s most prominent development and humanitarian assistance programs today. Directed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Polish Aid’s mission is to contribute to building a more sustainable world for present and future generations by providing humanitarian aid, development aid and global education.

 The program underwent implementation in forms specified in Article 4 of the Development Cooperation Act of September 16, 2011. In 2019, the grant equivalent of Poland’s ODA was nearly PLN 3 billion.

Over the years, Poland has prioritized post-Soviet countries in their aid allocation. Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Tanzania, India, Mongolia, China, Kenya, Iraq, Georgia, Moldova and Lebanon were key recipients of Polish bilateral assistance in 2019.

Poland’s bilateral assistance has gone primarily to helping former Communist countries transition to democracy, improve the economy and support civil society.

In effect, Poland’s aid allocation has raised levels of economic, social and political freedom in states that previously struggled to offer these liberties. Ukraine is one such state that has developed rapidly under the auspices of Poland, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Since gaining its independence in 1991, Ukraine now boasts a strong civil society, well-organized political parties and a diverse and pluralistic polity with multiple centers of power.

Poland is just one of a plethora of countries that have evolved from beneficiary to donor in a few short decades. The history of Poland’s foreign aid should serve as an important reminder of the reasons for how effective and worthwhile providing aid to a struggling country is. It might be that the initial leg-up is all a country needs to get a position where they too can help others.

– Lauren Hyomin Kim
Photo: Flickr

Operating in Afghanistan
After years of war and conflict, Afghanistan is facing a major humanitarian crisis. The country’s economy has almost completely collapsed following the takeover of the Taliban in 2021. The Taliban’s involvement in Afghanistan’s economic system has left the nation nearly isolated after the withdrawal of support from major players, such as the United States. Approximately 95% of Afghanistan homes that the World Food Programme (WFP) surveyed have been experiencing food insecurity since September 2021. Households are losing income and numbers are deteriorating quickly. Here are five charities operating in Afghanistan to provide relief.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP)

The U.N. World Food Programme has been one of the major charities operating in Afghanistan, providing food to Afghans for six decades. Due to years of conflict and instability, the majority of the population in Afghanistan is food insecure and malnutrition has doubled among children, according to Save the Children. The organization is responsible for record levels of food provision, serving 16 million Afghans since August 2021.

CARE USA

CARE USA is a nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian and economic support to countries experiencing crises globally with a special focus on the wellbeing of women and children. The organization has introduced three programs in Afghanistan. These include women and girls’ empowerment, resiliency and humanitarian relief efforts.  In 2021, CARE reached more than 1.1 million people to provide food, water, health care and education. Many of these programs work to promote sustainable progress in women’s health, inclusive governance and stability for the people of Afghanistan.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The International Rescue Committee is a global humanitarian charity operating in Afghanistan since the 1980s. The nonprofit provides cash assistance and other basic necessities while supporting health center operations and safe learning spaces for Afghan children. The International Rescue Committee also promotes sustainability in its poverty reduction efforts. It works with local communities to help them create and manage their own projects. In fact, more than 99% of the International Rescue Committee’s staff in the country are Afghan citizens.

The Central Asia Institute (CAI)

The Central Asia Institute is an organization focused on improving access to quality education in central Asian countries. The nonprofit created 15 schools in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, securing access to education for 452 students. The CAI also provides scholarships to primarily women educators to finish their schooling and secure paid teaching jobs. CAI provides emergency aid to displaced women and families.

Doctors Without Borders

Medical assistance is critical during the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Doctors Without Borders works to establish medical facilities and provide free, safe health care to the people of Afghanistan. The majority of its work consists of maternal and neonatal health care provisions, and it provided approximately 112,000 emergency consultations in 2020 while assisting in almost 40,000 births.

Looking Ahead

Support from the international community is crucial to the survival of the people of Afghanistan. While policy action is necessary for sustainable rebuilding, people on the ground cannot wait for support to meet their basic needs. These global organizations are providing immediate assistance to millions, and their work will continue to prove invaluable.

Hannah Yonas
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Ireland
Human trafficking in Ireland is higher than the official statistics report. In fact, Ireland stands as a Tier 2 Watch List country for a second year in relation to efforts to eliminate human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. Department of State compiles annual Trafficking in Persons Reports that rank governments in their efforts to end human trafficking.

The Tier 2 Watchlist country ranking means the government is not meeting the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) but is actively working to meet those standards. The TVPA establishes “methods of prosecuting traffickers, preventing human trafficking and protecting victims and survivors of trafficking.”

Why is Ireland a Tier 2 Watch List Country?

The Ireland government has made many efforts to align with the TVPA, such as “designating an independent human trafficking national rapporteur and establishing a formal national anti-trafficking forum” and starting a “national anti-trafficking public awareness campaign.” The Irish government has also extended monetary support for victim assistance, awareness efforts and anti-trafficking training.

Despite these efforts, Ireland did not demonstrate an overall increase in growth from the previous 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). The government continued to struggle with victim identification and assistance and lacked support services for victims. The 2021 TIP Report specifies that the Irish government “investigated and prosecuted fewer suspected traffickers, did not prosecute any labor traffickers and victim identification decreased for the fourth year in a row.”

Ireland’s Response to the 2021 TIP Report

“While there have been some positive efforts, including the appointment of the Commission as rapporteur, and in recent weeks, the first trafficking conviction since 2013, the reality today is that Ireland continues to fall below minimum standards compared to other developed nations,” Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Sinéad Gibney said in July 2021.

“It was very disappointing that the U.S. State Department did not acknowledge the significant progress made by Ireland over the past 12 months as sufficient to upgrade our ranking in the latest Trafficking in Persons Report, I am confident that the work we are doing should be reflected in the next TIP Report and that Ireland’s ranking should be upgraded accordingly,” Minister of State at the Department of Justice Hildegarde Naughton said in a September 2021 parliamentary discussion.

Is Human Trafficking in Ireland Improving?

From 2017 to 2019, Ireland detected 181 trafficking victims, while from 2019 to 2021, Ireland detected 124 victims, which equals about a 30% decrease. This decrease may link to the global COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The 2021 TIP Report said that authorities identified 38 victims in 2020, the lowest number of identified victims since 2013.

Overall, human trafficking in Ireland is reducing according to the numbers, but the 2021 TIP Report says that there are even more victims than official statistics say and does not provide conclusive insight as to why. The 2021 TIP Report stated that an “independent and comprehensive 2021 study found that from 2014-2019, the true number of trafficking victims was approximately 38[%] higher than the official national statistics.”

The 2021 TIP Report does indicate that traffickers traffic victims from other regions such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, and recently, countries including Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Romania.

Organizations Working to End Human Trafficking in Ireland

Ruhama is an Irish non-governmental organization that emerged in 1989 to provide “support to women impacted by prostitution, sex trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation.” Ruhama offers free services that differ depending on each woman’s circumstances and experiences, including a care plan, counseling and therapy, education and development programs, legal support, housing support, health and wellness support and more. In 2021, Ruhama helped 369 women, with 136 women victims of sex trafficking.

Doras is an anti-trafficking organization that has been helping those affected by human trafficking in Mid-West Ireland since 2011. Its priorities in anti-trafficking advocacy include rehabilitation programs for victims, improved identification and assisting of victims, “increased penalties and custodial sentences” for those benefiting from prostitution, “safe and appropriate gender-specific accommodation” for survivors and more.

As of now, the total victim count for human trafficking in Ireland is decreasing and the government and other organizations are continuing to accelerate efforts to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking in Ireland, prevent it and educate on it, while helping survivors, and identifying victims and accurately reporting information.

– Dylan Olive
Photo: Flickr

Legacy in Global Health
In February 2022, the world parted with one of its most valued physicians and advocates. Dr. Paul Farmer was a man who dedicated his life, career and effort to provide medical care to developing countries struggling with poverty. At the end of his life, Dr. Farmer received various awards for his work, published a variety of books regarding global health and co-founded Partners in Health, a nonprofit organization to provide modern medicine to those in need. Those in humanitarian work and aid may only speculate what more Dr. Farmer would have accomplished if he did not lose his life so suddenly and hope that Farmer’s work can be a legacy in global health for future humanitarians.

Paul Farmer’s Start to Global Health

Dr. Farmer started with a passion for humanitarian work. After graduating from Duke University in 1982 with honors, Farmer achieved an M.D. and Ph.D. in anthropology at Harvard in 1990. Prior to achieving his Master’s degree and Doctorate, Farmer protested U.S. immigration policies that discriminated against Haitian refugees. Farmer also extended his effort to Haiti where he helped establish a community-based health project in 1983.

In 1987, Dr. Farmer co-founded Partners in Health (PIH), aiding clinics, education and training in developing countries. Since its founding, PIH has contributed to a multitude of initiatives and movements to support global health. In 1998, the organization launched the HIV Equity Initiative, a program that administers antiretroviral therapy to Haitian HIV-positive patients. The initiative would be a steppingstone for other major organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to fund efforts against HIV. In 2003, the organization co-founded OpenMRS, a source to open medical records designed for use in developing countries.

Today, there are 15.8 million active patients using the platform in 40 countries. Following the Haitian earthquake in 2010, PIH organized a vaccination campaign for the growing threat of cholera in 2012. This effort would protect 50,000 people from the deadly sickness. PIH is only one Farmer legacy in global health and the organization will only continue to grow.

Farmer’s Work with MDR TB

One of Dr. Farmer’s notable efforts in global health was in 1999 when WHO appointed Farmer and PIH co-founder Jim Yong Kim to launch global treatment programs and effective antibiotic delivery to patients suffering from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded a grant of $44.7 million to PIH and Harvard Medical School for MDR TB research and with this fund Farmer was able to develop “individualized drug-therapy programs for patients in Haiti, Peru and Russia.”

Peru still benefits from the work that Dr. Farmer and other humanitarians have done for the international community. The World Bank recorded that in 2000, a year after Farmer began his work, the rate of tuberculosis incidences was 183 per 100,000 people. More than 20 years after Farmer’s initial work, tuberculosis incident rates went down to 116 per 100,000 people.

Haiti’s National Teaching Hospital

Farmer’s legacy in global health will live on in PIH and in the many people he helped. After the devastation that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake brought to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, killing thousands, Farmer and PIH provided emergency care and medical relief to Haitians who experienced the disaster.

The disaster caused the loss of 70% of public health buildings and 20% of the public health system’s clinical staff. Despite the odds against the aid workers and Farmer during the crisis, Farmer was able to coordinate the building of a new and larger national teaching hospital. In 2013, the creation of Build Health International (BHI) and the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) further expanded the hospital. Containing six operating rooms and with designs to hold 600 outpatients and emergency patients daily, the newly built hospital would help more than 1,500 patients daily by its second year. Today, that legacy in global health continues on as the hospital continues to grow and save lives.

Nearing the end of Farmer’s life during the pandemic, PIH launched initiatives in response to COVID-19 globally. While the world is still battling the pandemic, PIH and other organizations, people and groups can lead in Farmer’s example with his legacy in global health. With Farmer’s various achievements and efforts, Farmer’s work will continue to live on and help many more lives in the future.

– Michelanie Allcock
Photo: Flickr