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2021: Time to strengthen commitments for most vulnerable
Life has become so much harder for many more people this year. Driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and exacerbated by inequalities, we have seen economies disrupted and livelihoods destroyed over the past 12 months.
Shockingly, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is expected to rise to 274 million next year, up 17% on 2021.
Alongside that, conflict and climate change are increasing displacement, with in excess of 84 million people currently forced from their homes. Right now, the impact of drought in Somalia is adding to that number.
Women and girls are also disproportionately affected by poverty and displacement. They are made more vulnerable while continuing to shoulder the burden of caring for their families and putting food on the table.
Not the time to backtrack on commitments
In the face of these many challenges, there is a need for collective action built on a sense of shared responsibility. However, instead of responding to these challenges, the UK government chose to cut aid spending in the most thoughtless manner this year. Programmes supporting health, livelihoods and adaptation to climate change were cut, closed completely or severely reduced.
The direct impact on the people they were helping was stark, with services and support withdrawn and the innovations, partnerships and potential gains lost or reversed.
Making only the lightest of commitments at this year’s Nutrition for Growth summit, which the UK once proudly co-hosted at its inception in 2013, deepened concerns that the UK aid budget may not in future be spent on assisting the poorest and most vulnerable, but instead be directed to bolster strategic and trade interests.
If we come together, we can move mountains. Now is not the time to reel back global commitments
If we come together, we can move mountains. Now is not the time to reel back global commitments. We should be shoring up overseas aid, ensuring equitable vaccine roll out so that everyone everywhere can be safe from Covid-19 and holding fast to carbon emission targets, mindful that climate change is a major driver of poverty and displacement.
Developing new approaches
In Concern, we are used to finding ways through complex situations. Over recent years, we have developed approaches to support sustainable Climate-Smart Agriculture, improve household nutrition and childhood development, and help move those in chronic poverty to a point where their life choices start to broaden and they have access to more reliable incomes.
One of the highlights of this year for me was visiting Concern programmes in Turkey in November to see how we support Syrian refugee children to get the most out of going to school and help them prepare for a brighter future.
Work to bring about more just and equitable world
In response to the fresh challenges that this year has brought, we have some exciting work planned for 2022.
Acting on the commitment in the Sustainable Development Goals to ‘leave no-one behind’, we will be conducting research and drawing on our own experiences to set out what that means in practice, and sharing this with the UK government and our supporters to try and maintain the focus on and drive investment towards extremely poor people.
We will keep look for new partnerships to help us leverage bigger changes, and most importantly, we will continue to invest our time and effort in sharing our work with our supporters and finding more ways for others who want to make a change to engage with us.
In the face of challenges, we must strengthen our commitment to support the most vulnerable
If 2021 has taught us anything, it is that in the face of challenges, we must strengthen our commitment to support the most vulnerable, and continue to work together to bring a more just and equitable world one step closer.
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