This water point in Cadaada village in Somaliland Province has dropped to dangerous levels. Livestock owners fear it will dry up altogether if the rains fail. Credit: Erich Ogoso/UNOCHA

Somalis are no strangers to hardship, having endured years of drought, conflict and instability. Last year saw a devastating infestation of desert locusts, extensive flooding and COVID-19, which brought new health and socioeconomic woes. Now the country is again facing critical water shortages, which are causing livestock deaths, mounting hunger and an inability to cultivate crops, triggering the flight of over 80,000 people in recent months.

Droughts in Somalia are becoming more frequent and more prolonged, linked to the global climate crisis, say experts.

Salima Ali, a mother of three, is one of those who fled, trekking from Afmadow district…


Stories of people supported by pooled funds in 2020.

Photo ©UNOCHA/Alioune NDIAYE

Country-based pooled funds direct resources to the front lines of the world’s most severe emergencies. The funds provide a predictable source of finance and support to local and international organizations. They help organizations prioritize assisting the most vulnerable people and ensure that funding reaches the most critical emergency operations.

Globally, CBPFs allocated $909 million in 2020. Local and national NGOs received $440 million (48 per cent of total CBPFs funding).

Below are the stories of some of the people they helped — with food, shelter, medicine, mental health, and more.


The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) released $5 million to help communities in Bangladesh blighted by climate-related weather events to prepare and protect themselves from the next major monsoon flooding — before it hit. As part of this allocation, Anowara and her child Abdullah received cash assistance from the World Food Programme.

The Central Emergency Response Fund provides life-saving aid when new crises emerge and when existing crises worsen. From COVID to conflict to natural disasters, the CERF helps responders reach vulnerable people worldwide. With the generous support of donors, CERF responded to the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs, disbursing a record $848 million to support humanitarian action worldwide — up from $539 million in 2019.

Below are the stories of some of the people they helped in 2020 — with food, shelter, medicine, mental health, and more.


Text and photos by Adedeji Ademigbuji, OCHA Nigeria

Bakasi camp for people displaced by conflict is the biggest camp in north-east Nigeria.

The decade-long conflict in north-east Nigeria continues to take its toll. Growing food insecurity, shrinking humanitarian access and overcrowded camps are just some of the life-threatening consequences that women, men and children are forced to deal with every day.

Camp-life reality


Hygiene kits being transported by boat on the Amazon River to indigenous communities in Puerto Nariño, Colombia. Credit: UNICEF WASH Cluster — CERF/ Daniela González

The Amazon River and its vast network of tributaries sustain some 30 million people in eight Latin American countries, connecting Brazil, Colombia and Peru along its main channel.

Here, we outline five things to know about how the pandemic is severely affecting the lives of thousands of indigenous people who live in this region.


Juana Valdez’s house was destroyed by the floods that followed the hurricanes.

Text by Laura Solórzano and Véronique Durroux, OCHA ROLAC

All photos by OCHA/Laura Solórzano

Hurricanes Eta and Iota left a trail of destruction after they hit parts of Central America in November 2020.

Three months on, many communities in Izabal — one of the most affected departments in north-east Guatemala — are still reeling from the impact of floods, as more rains have worsened the situation. Humanitarian teams and local and national authorities have been working together to assist the most vulnerable people.

For the residents of Sioux village, in the Morales municipality, the shock of the floods was unlike…


2020 showed us the consequences of not cooperating, said participants of the UN humanitarian agency OCHA’s annual policy gathering. So where does that lead humanitarian action in 2021?

WFP registers people in need in Yemen, while respecting physical distancing. Credit: WFP/Mohammed Awadh

2020 was a “dumpster fire” and “hellish year” for countries in crisis that were then hit with the economic- and health-related meltdowns of COVID-19, said speakers at OCHA’s 2020 Global Humanitarian Policy Forum. John Norris, Deputy Director for Policy and Strategic Insight at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, described 2020 as “a year of consequences where we saw the painful cost of not cooperating.”

At this year’s virtual event, OCHA gathered…


Manal is a 13-year-old displaced Syrian girl. When schools closed because of COVID-19, Manal was able to continue her studies in the Dana District Camp when local NGO Saed Charity Association stepped in to provide online classes, using funding from OCHA’s Syria Cross-Border Humanitarian Fund. Credit: Saed Charity Association, Idleb.

When Pakistan declared a state of emergency and lockdown in March due to COVID-19, local authorities in South Waziristan District closed all their outpatient departments, leaving hundreds of people without access to essential medical care.

Education Health Social Awareness Rehabilitation Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NGO), was quick to fill the gap in services by supporting the outpatient departments in three health facilities.

It could do this thanks to arrangements by the UN’s Pakistan Humanitarian Pooled Fund (PHPF) to support a flexible response. …


A CARE food aid package for members of indigenous communities. Credit: CARE Honduras

By Veronique Durroux, and María Elena Calix, UN Honduras

Daysi Castro is a single mother from Comayagua, Honduras. Her family depend on the income she earns washing and ironing people’s clothes. But this income has been drastically reduced as a result of mobility restrictions imposed by the Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, making it harder for Daysi’s family to keep hunger at bay.

“Right now, what we do with my children is have a little coffee in the morning and then we don’t eat until the afternoon, we only eat once a day,” said Daysi.

Honduras is one…


Thirteen-year-old Syrian refugee Abdallah says goodbye to his visually impaired mother, Um Abdallah before leaving their apartment in east Amman, Jordan. Um Abdallah lost her sight as a result of the psychological effect of the Syrian conflict. Abdallah and his mom depend on a UNHCR monthly cash assistance to pay for their needs. Abdallah hopes his mother will be able to see again one day. Credit: UNHCR

“My ears are my eyes,” said Oriana Salazar. She suffers from a condition that progressively diminishes her vision. “When I have to go to the market, I feel I am in a maze.”

Honking cars and roaring engines warn Salazar when she is too close to traffic. Footsteps or loud voices let her know if there are people nearby.

Salazar, 32, lives in Carúpano, a city in eastern Venezuela. Her elderly mother has always shopped for the household. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, Salazar prefers that her mother stays home.

A staff member from the non-governmental organization (NGO) Caritas Venezuela…

United Nations OCHA

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