The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is the U.N. agency tasked with providing humanitarian assistance to areas of the world that so desperately need it. Specifically tasked with providing a response to humanitarian crises, a lot of its work helps combat the effects of poverty around the world. With a lot happening in the world in 2022, there was a lot of work necessary in the fight against poverty. From the Black Sea Grain Initiative to expanding its impact on countries like Syria, OCHA made tremendous progress in its humanitarian efforts to combat the effects of poverty around the world. Here are just a few of their successes.
Combating the Global Food Crisis
Along with the war in Ukraine came a global food crisis, which the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic made even more. In June 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) wrote that millions of people worldwide were at risk of starvation due to the “rising prices of food, fuel and fertilizer.” Much of this was due to the war, as Ukraine is one of the largest exporters of foodstuffs in the world. The country accounted for 42% of the world’s supply of sunflower oil, 16% of corn and 10% of wheat, according to the Wilson Center.
U.N. and Turkish negotiators helped bring Russia and Ukraine together for the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allowed for a resumption of vital food exports from Ukraine. Since the agreement came into effect, 21,300,708 tons of cargo have left Ukrainian ports, as of February 2023. Corn made up 47% of the exports, with wheat accounting for 29%.
According to the U.N., 25% of the cargo went to lower-income countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and more. This includes humanitarian food assistance to the Horn of Africa, which is currently experiencing a severe drought and famine. The exports out of Ukraine as a result of this U.N. brokered deal will continue to help improve food security conditions for millions and represents just one of the positive effects of humanitarian aid in 2022.
Expanding Humanitarian Efforts in Syria
The previous year also saw an increase in humanitarian efforts in Syria, with a United Nations Security Council resolution allowing humanitarian aid to cross into Syria from neighboring Türkiye. The decision was a testament to the positive effects of humanitarian aid, as the aid crossing the border “reached an average of 2.7 million people per month.”
This assistance provided thousands of impoverished people living in Syria access to food and education, as well as other resources necessary for their well-being. The expansion of aid into Syria, whose decade-long civil war continues to have detrimental effects on its population, also represents the positive effects of humanitarian aid in 2022.
Efforts at Promoting Localization
OCHA also lists its efforts at promoting localization as a positive effect of humanitarian aid in 2022. Localization, according to the International Red Cross (IFRC) is an increase of “international investment and respect for the role of local actors, with the goal of increasing the reach, effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian action.” Localization has been a key aspect of most humanitarian responses for a while, as local actors have the ability to stretch aid further than international organizations.
Local actors have much closer ties to the communities they seek to assist, and can have a much larger impact on delivering aid to these communities than international aid organizations would. Emphasizing localization is one of the most important positive effects of humanitarian aid and can help provide aid to those who otherwise would not receive it.
While the above represents only a handful of the positive effects of humanitarian aid, OCHA accomplished a lot more in 2022. From providing aid to drought-stricken areas in the Horn of Africa to assisting aid deliveries in Yemen, OCHA and other humanitarian organizations have had a massive positive impact on humanitarian aid in 2022; work that will continue going into 2023.
– Mohammad Samhouri