Irish Aid
Located in East Africa, the Horn of Africa consists of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. The area is experiencing an unprecedented drought, “following four consecutive failed rainy seasons in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years.”

Because of this unprecedented drought, many have come to the aid of the area including government agencies, nonprofits and other agencies with local presence in the area. One of these contributors is Irish Aid, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, which provided an additional €30 million to the area in November 2022, bringing its total contributions to the Horn of Africa in 2022 to more than $100 million.

Damages and Lasting Consequences

The drought affected more than 36 million people within the area with 23 million of these people facing food insecurity. This food insecurity has come from the loss of livestock lives with almost 10 million livestock dead because of the drought. Kenya’s government translated this into an economic loss of more than $1.5 billion. It will take farmers within the area years to rebuild due to the severity and duration of the drought. “A recent IOM assessment in Garissa county, Kenya, found that over 72,600 pastoralist households had lost their capital and livelihood opportunity,” OCHA reports.

More than 5.7 million children under 5 are experiencing acute malnutrition while about 1.3 million are experiencing severe acute malnutrition. Related to this, more than 1.2 million nursing and pregnant women experience malnourishment, with the highest affected population living in Ethiopia.

The Allocation of Irish Aid’s Funds

With Irish Aid sending these additional funds to the Horn of Africa, here is an insight into the allocation of the funds in the most effective way:

  • Irish Aid will deliver more than half of the funds to the worst affected areas. UNOCHA will put these funds into place in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, UNICEF in Kenya and Ireland’s own embassy in Ethiopia with the assistance of local partners.
  • The program will contribute €5 million of the funds to the U.N.’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in the area.
  • Multiple Irish NGO partners will receive €5 million to provide life-saving care, monetary relief and sanitation and replenish food supplies.

Irish Aid in the Horn of Africa

These additional funds bring the total for Irish Aid’s contribution to the Horn of Africa up to more than €100 million just within 2022. With the announcement of additional funding, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney stated on the matter: “The Horn of Africa is on the brink of disaster. The prospect of starvation and famine across swathes of the Horn is imminent. The combined effects of drought, conflict, ongoing political struggle and the global impact of the war in Ukraine have been devastating. Ireland is stepping up our support to respond immediately,” the Department of Foreign Affairs reported on its website.

Economic aid from Irish Aid and many others is vital to lessen the humanitarian crisis within the area. These contributions can drastically reverse the effects and help the countries in the area rebuild.

– Sean McMullen
Photo: Flickr

Ukraine’s Energy Crisis
As Russia continues to wage war on its eastern neighbor, the deterioration of Ukraine’s energy sector and infrastructure has taken a turn for the worst. With a lack of access to electricity and heating, Ukrainians have to endure a particularly cold and harsh winter. Ukrainian children, in particular, are vulnerable to winter temperatures because they target their physical conditions, psychological well-being and educational opportunities.

A Cold Winter

UNICEF predicts that temperatures in Ukraine may drop to -4 degrees Fahrenheit this winter. Coupled with the fact that Russia has destroyed more than 40% of Ukraine’s power infrastructure, residents are living in freezing conditions and constant attacks this wintertime. In fact, UNOCHA announced in November 2022 that Ukraine’s current energy system was only capable of meeting 70% of citizen demands.

Considering that “45% of Kyiv currently doesn’t have access to electricity,” educational and medical facilities also face extreme issues. Online learning is facing disruption as households lack access to electricity and medical facilities are facing challenges as damaged power sources and impaired water systems hinder hospitals from providing crucial services.

Impacts on Children

Ukrainian children’s physical and emotional well-being are at high risk during this time of violence and energy destruction. According to Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, “Millions of children are facing a bleak winter huddled in the cold and dark, with little idea of how or when respite may arrive.” UNICEF reports that Ukraine’s energy crisis is particularly dire for the 1.2 million displaced Ukrainian children, who not only lack access to electricity and heating but also do not have permanent shelter.

In addition to children’s physical conditions, Ukrainian children’s psychosocial well-being is an extremely unstable situation. Approximately 1.5 million Ukrainian children may be susceptible to depression and other anxiety-related disorders. Furthermore, a lack of health services in war-torn areas prevents children from accessing the physical and emotional help they need during this time.

Help From Abroad

Fortunately, in light of Russia’s destruction of energy infrastructure, numerous international organizations have attempted to remedy the situation. UNICEF, in particular, is playing a significant role in mitigating Ukraine’s energy crisis, providing healthcare facilities to almost 4.9 million Ukrainian women and children. It also provided drinking water to more than 4.2 million needy residents and created mental health services that have reached more than 2.5 million children. Its financial assistance—in the form of direct cash transfers to households or funding for critical services in Ukraine at large—has also supported Ukraine’s continuing needs.

To combat the freezing temperatures, Ukraine and other organizations have set up “heating points,” warm tents that offer shelter and water to residents across the nation. These emergency initiatives take place in train stations and schools throughout Ukraine, helping millions of displaced households in need of shelter, Foreign Policy reports.

An Impending Future

While numerous governments and organizations continue to alleviate Ukraine’s energy crisis, Russia’s attacks still have deep-rooted consequences. Many researchers argue that Ukraine not only needs to increase its energy demand, but the country has to reinvent its energy infrastructure entirely. As such, Ukraine would need to lessen its dependence on fossil fuels and create more modern and sustainable energy systems. For now, however, Ukraine will continue to face a challenging winter devoid of electricity and heating for millions.

– Emma He
Photo: Flickr

AI technology
AI technology is all around and many use it without even knowing it. However, many people in developing countries cannot access this technology without help. WorldData has reported that there are 152 developing countries worldwide, with a population of 6.69 billion. The entirety of Central and South America and Africa are developing nations, along with the majority of Asia and other island states. About 9% of the global population is living in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.90 per day, and living below the higher poverty line. More than 20% earn less than $3.20 per day and more than 40% earn less than $5.50.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is basically coding and software that help people in daily life. While people know it best for its role in science and medicine, it also has a role in the productive robots in factories, the voice recognition in smartphones, the software that detects online viruses and the drones that deliver packages and help farmers. While there is no official definition for AI, it is typically a man-made machine that does things humans cannot do in a timely manner or at all. The term “artificial intelligence” or “AI” was created in 1956 at a conference in New Hampshire, the United States, but AI machines existed before that.

How is AI Technology Helping Developing Nations?

Agriculture. AI technology supports many different aspects of agriculture, particularly in Africa. It helps farmers take care of their crops by detecting when is the best time to plant and harvest. It can also help detect when crops are sick. For example, mCrops is a form of AI that helps diagnose crop diseases in Uganda. Additionally, another AI that is helpful in agriculture is drones that spray pesticides on sick plants. However, they can also spray water and help plant new crops in the healthiest parts of the ground. An example of this is Aerobotics, which works in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Education. AI technology can help developing nations, especially in rural areas, with education because it is effective for illiteracy, coursework and general school subjects, and can alleviate the short supply of teachers and supplies using tutoring technology. Sites like Dapito, Eneza Education and Tutorful help people connect around the world. For example, they teach English to non-English speakers, customizing content and lessons for a specific student. Students in developing nations are intelligent, but they lack qualified teachers and are sometimes unable to travel to school. For example, travel might not be available when there are floods and when they are sick, especially when many schools are far away.

Recognition. This method of AI includes location and supports many fields, such as health care, natural disasters, deliveries and shipments, and more, generally by the use of drones. An earthquake hit Nepal in 2015 where the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) used AI in relief to locate damage from social media posts, mobile devices, satellites and multiple other devices. Currently, the World Wildlife Fund uses drones in Kenya to arrest wildlife poachers, and UNICEF is building a machine to detect malnutrition using facial recognition.

AI Technology and Health Care

AI technology is helping globally, especially in rural countries in Africa. It is constantly undergoing development for health care but relies on the government, NGOs and medical professionals to authorize machines for medical use and support. AI can diagnose patients, recommend treatments and discover global viruses. For those living in rural and developing nations, AI is lifesaving as it can locate injured people which a normal navigation or GPS system cannot do, and send medicine and medical supplies via drones. It also provides qualified doctors to countries with a lack of medical professionals and to those who need a second opinion on diagnoses, treatment and surgery. This reduces costs, manual labor and mortality rates and develops education in health care and literacy.

In 2022, the University of West Scotland developed new AI technology that enables lung diseases to be identified faster with an accuracy of 98%, meaning diseases are less likely to spread and more people will be correctly diagnosed before a disease progresses and can receive treatment. Further research has found that it can detect COVID-19 cases. This technology is especially useful in developing nations during winter periods especially and globally in general. This will not replace human labor but will support hospitals. This AI technology cuts short the long wait and use of CT scans, blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds, cutting down further costs and time taken to identify disease and illness.

– Deanna Barratt
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Assisting Flood Victims in Nigeria
Nigeria is a country in West Africa with a population of more than 210 million people. It is the most populous country in Africa and boasts one of the largest economies in Africa. Since September 2022, Nigeria has faced devastating floods that damaged Nigeria’s infrastructure and led to dire humanitarian consequences. These floods stand as the most destructive floods that Nigeria has experienced in more than 10 years. The floods have led to more than 600 deaths, more than 1 million displacements and thousands of injuries. Below are five charities assisting flood victims in Nigeria.

5 Charities Assisting Flood Victims in Nigeria

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC is a global relief agency that has been providing aid to Nigeria since the country’s previous extreme flooding event in 2012. The organization is committed to helping people in poor and vulnerable countries amid conflict and disasters. The IRC specifically supports Nigerians by providing them with food, water, shelter and health services. Nigeria has experienced large cholera outbreaks and an increase in preventable diseases as a result of the floods. In October 2022, the IRC helped Nigerians by providing hygiene and sanitation resources and health programming to stop the spread of these diseases. The IRC has also established three offices in Northeastern Nigeria to expand its crisis response efforts within the country. With more funding, the IRC can reach even more disaster victims in Nigeria.
  2. UNICEF Nigeria. This charity supports children in Nigeria who experience issues that stem from poverty including disease, violence and environmental disasters. Flooding in Nigeria has caused communities, such as those within Bayelsa State, to lose their homes, schools and other essential infrastructure. UNICEF has supported the Nigerian government’s response in three flood-affected states. UNICEF’s response includes “cash assistance, distribution of cholera kits, government-led mobile health teams, temporary learning centers [and] learning kits” the UNICEF website reports. With more support, this organization can scale its efforts and provide critical supplies, including medication, to those who need it the most.
  3. Save the Children Nigeria. For more than 20 years, the organization has supported vulnerable Nigerian children and their families. A November 2022 press release highlights Save the Children’s assistance to flood victims across several countries. In Nigeria specifically, Save the Children is providing flood victims with “life-saving food, safe drinking water, cash assistance, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets, child protection services and emergency shelter kits,” according to the press release. The organization is assisting 36,000 children and 18,000 families in six of those most affected states.
  4. Nigerian Red Cross Society. This organization came about in 1960 through a parliamentary act. The organization helps vulnerable Nigerians facing “disaster, epidemics, armed conflicts” and other issues that bring humanitarian consequences. The Nigerian Red Cross announced an emergency appeal for funding in early November 2022 to raise more money for victims of Nigeria’s recent floods. This aid would support victims across Nigeria on a large scale. The charity has already mobilized more than 10,000 volunteers and hundreds of staff members to assist with “evacuation, camp management and relief activities.”
  5. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This United Nations body is dedicated to coordinating and strengthening international humanitarian responses to disasters. The OCHA facilitates effective responses to global emergencies, such as the floods in Nigeria, by mobilizing support and funding for affected nations. OCHA’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria has called for more support from the international community regarding flood relief efforts in Nigeria as well as a more coordinated effort to mitigate climate-related disasters.

Looking Ahead

These five charities assisting flood victims in Nigeria work to provide essential resources and aid to people who need help. Through their work into the future, flooding victims in Nigeria should be able to continue receiving support.

– Dylan Priday
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Afghan IDPs and Returnees

Conflict and natural disasters have plagued Afghanistan for many years, causing thousands of Afghans to flee their homes and country. According to reports by The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), as of September 2018, there were at least 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan, and more than 5.2 million Afghan refugees repatriated with their agency between March 2002 and September 2018. This all-encompassing displacement has resulted in an overwhelming number of Afghan IDPs and returnees trying to reintegrate into society, placing immense strain on host communities and causing an increased need for humanitarian aid. Not all IDPs and returnees seek refuge in government-controlled areas, making their need for humanitarian assistance even greater.

A Territorial Tug of War and Its Effects

For decades, Afghanistan has faced a heightened state of security, but in 2017 the country was downgraded to a post-conflict status. Yet, that very same year, its territorial map was redrawn, as the Afghan military fought to secure urban areas. Their departure from rural regions allowed the Taliban to capture new districts. This led to the reclassification of Afghanistan as an active conflict country.

According to a CNN report, in November 2015, approximately 72 percent of Afghanistan was government-controlled, while Taliban forces or other insurgents held only seven percent. By October 2017, 56 percent of the country’s districts were under the authority of the Afghan government, while 30 percent was contested — an incremental redistricting signaling the Afghan army’s loosening stronghold.

Today, the security situation in Afghanistan remains complicated because the Taliban’s national influence is on the rise, and insurgents still dominate large parts of some northern provinces. The Taliban’s continuous ground attacks, along with U.S. airstrikes and territorial shifts, have resulted in more casualties and worsening conditions for Afghan IDPs and returnees in militant-controlled areas.

The Reality of Non-Government-Controlled Afghan IDPs and Returnees

According to British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG), in 2016, the Common Humanitarian Fund only allocated two percent of their Afghan designated funding for non-government-controlled areas. Due to the limited humanitarian funding and access constraints resulting from safety and security issues, displaced persons and reintegrating returnees residing in contested and conflict-ridden regions experience challenges at higher rates. The following are examples:

  • Lack of access to education, especially for girls
  • Lack of access to health services
  • Inadequate housing and insufficient access to land
  • Few employment opportunities
  • Food insecurity and meal skipping/reducing intake
  • Child labor and child marriages
  • Psychological trauma

Another reason why Afghan IDPs and returnees in high-security areas are adversely affected by state fragility is that most are unaware of their constitutional rights under the Afghanistan Constitution and National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons. Two principal ways for these populations to receive assistance are through emergency humanitarian assistance and reporting or registering claims with the Department for Refugees and Repatriation (DoRR). Claim registration with DoRR, however, is very complex and expensive.

Efforts to Establish an Effective, Targeted Response

In the summer of 2017, UNHCR Afghanistan contracted Orange Door Research and Viamo to survey returnees and conflict-induced IDPs. For comparative analysis, UNHCR also surveyed the general population. The survey provided a detailed view of migration patterns, assistance needs and vulnerability. It distinguished populations based on gender and income, as well as location and time of return or displacement. UNHCR and its partners studied the findings to develop a strategy that would generate protection outcomes and solutions for the following problems: insufficient access to adequate housing and education, peacebuilding support, self-reliance and the sustainable reintegration of IDPs and returnees through regional strategies with the goal of expanding humanitarian access. UNHCR’s findings also determined appropriate planning, response and advocacy for the inclusion of displaced persons’ and returnees’ needs in national priority programs.

REACH, a joint initiative of IMPACT, ACTED and UNOSAT, partnered with the UNOCHA and the Humanitarian Access Group to implement the Afghanistan Hard-to-Reach Assessment. In March 2018, REACH assessed Afghan districts to provide geographical and sectoral findings to establish an assessment of needs, vulnerabilities and access constraints for a multi-sectoral approach.

The first round of findings highlighted education and healthcare vulnerabilities in hard-to-reach districts and stressed key protection concerns. In May 2018, the second round of data was collected to allow comparison. The aim of the Afghanistan Hard-to-Reach Assessment was to inform the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan to improve these districts’ inclusion in the Afghanistan humanitarian response.

Detailed in Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Response Plan for 2018-2021 is the Humanitarian Country Team’s (HCT) updated multi-year Humanitarian Response Plan. The HCT has granted a temporary widening of current humanitarian parameters to prioritize the conveyance of life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable and affected people, help restore livelihoods, and rehabilitate trauma victims and assist in their societal reintegration.

Such strategic changes to humanitarian response plans recognize that multi-sectoral responses are needed to help Afghan IDPs and returnees in areas not under government control. To ensure their inclusion in both regional and national response programs, there must also be full disclosure of their constitutional rights and a more affordable and streamlined humanitarian aid registration process.

– Julianne Russo
Photo: Pixabay

The political climate of Sudan is one that has been unpredictable for several years, and resulted in many refugees fleeing the country. Thankfully, aid from Uganda and organizations has been successful in easing the burdens refugees face when they leave their country.

The Civil War in Sudan

Wars in Sudan have occurred since the 1960s, with the most recent civil war in Sudan beginning in 2014 over a political argument: Salva Kiir, the president of Sudan, believed Vice President Reik Machar was attempting to overthrow his presidency and undermine his power, and the disagreement divided the country.

Since 2014, attempts at peace have been interrupted: stolen oil and ethnic cleansing resulting from the civil war in Sudan and the nation’s violent political climate lead to a total of one million refugees leaving their homes by last fall.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, many of these refugees escaped to Uganda and more than 1,800 refugees leave South Sudan every day. Fortunately, Uganda’s open border policy has made it possible for refugees to find temporary rest where land, food, water and education are accessible.


In an interview with UNHCR, Tabu Sunday, a South Sudanese refugee, discussed her experience in leaving her parents to find safety in Uganda.

“Where I was living they were killing people,” she said. “My parents said they didn’t have enough money for travelling. So we had to walk on foot with my aunt. It was a long and hard journey. We had to use the Congo route to reach Uganda. My aunt stayed for a week and decided to return home.”

There are several aid organizations assisting refugees fleeing the civil war in Sudan. For instance, the Cooperative Assistance and Relief Everywhere organization (CARE) provides nutrition assistance to refugees in addition to the efforts of Uganda’s families and governments. According to CARE, approximately two million citizens from South Sudan have fled their country.

UNICEF has been involved in Sudan with the goals to improve health, nutrition, water, sanitation, education and safety. Making education more accessible in South Sudan is an endeavor of which many organizations have seen success — through UNICEF “Education in Emergencies” programs and the establishment of United Nations Protection of Civilians Sites, a 2013 project was able to improve such accessibility.

However, aid organizations have overcome some challenges in assisting South Sudan in the past. In the spring of 2017, the government of South Sudan blocked aid organizations from providing food to the country. Not only was a Save the Children base stolen from, but aid was blocked by the government as a form of brutality.

Despite these challenges, aid organizations persist and maintain a strong focus on improving the present and future lives of refugees.  

The Future   

As aid organizations persist in their efforts to help refugees, several organizations will need to take into account the political climate where aid workers are placed; for instance, being aware of the potential famines that will most likely result from the political climate of the civil war in Sudan. However, knowing this ahead of time will assist organizations in providing better care to refugees in need.

According to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the violence in Sudan combined with famine and a history of an unstable political climate has made the issue of assisting the people in South Sudan very complex.

It is estimated that by March 2018, 8 million people will experience food insecurity. The European Union, and its partnerships, have contributed 43 percent of the aid to South Sudan.

Humanitarian Aid Efforts

The efforts of aid organizations make indisputable difference to refugees on the ground. According to UNOCHA, 5.4 million of the 7 million people in need of help received assistance by December 2017.

Below are a few of the organizations making a difference in addition to the European Union and its partnerships.

  1. The International Rescue Committee
  2. Save the Children
  3. USAID
  4. CARE

These organizations will continue to provide resources for people to learn about the issues in Sudan as well as give aid to the people there, steps that will continue the progress international groups have already set in motion.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr