PREDICTING HUMANITARIAN TRENDS IN 2022

In 2022, it is predicted that 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection. This has significantly increased from 2021, and the UN has called for $41 billion to help assist some 183 million people across 63 countries this year alone. The world currently spends around US$ 25 billion providing life-saving aid and assistance to those impacted by disasters and conflict. While this seems like a huge amount, never have such levels of funding been so insufficient as humanitarian needs continue to accelerate globally. Without more synergy between development, humanitarian and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) planning and investment, such funding will continue to fall short in dealing with crises in the following years.

Food Insecurity

World hunger will not be eradicated by 2030 unless countries make bold changes to address inequality in access to food. Nearly 660 million people will likely be facing hunger by 2030, which is 30 million higher than expected due to the long-lasting impacts of the pandemic. Last year, up to 283 million people were acutely food insecure or at high risk, across 80 countries. This was a record high and was driven by volatile levels of food insecurity across regions of conflict in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia. This year, many of these countries are facing famine, and Nigeria is currently on the brink as violence continues to ravage the country.

In 2021, according to the Global Humanitarian Overview, ‘climate impacts joined conflict as a root cause of famine.’ An increased frequency of drought conditions, delayed rains and poor harvests across many areas of the majority world, have left citizens resorting to survival rations of food usually reserved for livestock.

Climate and Migration

The global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least 2050 under all predicted emissions scenarios calculated in the 2021 IPCC report. A global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will likely be exceeded in this century unless radical reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are made. While COP21 saw governments come together to pledge changes to consumption, production and renewable energy sources, many indigenous communities were excluded from the conversation and greenwashed promises were made by leading polluters that have not since been cemented with any significant policy changes. While 200 organisations signed a new Climate Charter aimed at addressing the climate crisis, there was little tangible changes to ccompensation for climate-linked disasters in the most vulnerable countries We are likely to see much higher migratory numbers due to climate change as it not only causes disasters but is an intensifier for conflicts and economic instability. Countries are increasingly brazened at leveraging migration to exert political pressure and many are increasingly keen to keep people from entering their borders. There has been little indication that Western countries are prepared to dramatically change border policies in the face of migration predictions, but we must work together to prioritise human life over exclusionary politics.

Gender

The gender-poverty gap is widening, with 247 million women currently living on less than US$1.90 a day. This staggering statistic reflects a shift away from obtaining gender parity as the pandemic, economic downfall and political tumult in many regions has dealt a severe blow to gender progress. At a global level, the prevalence of food insecurity among women, in particular, has increased dramatically in the last 2 years, it was 6% higher among women than men in 2019, and 10% higher in 2020. As this trend continues in the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and permeates other social contexts, we are faced with serious gender setbacks in the years to come. These are pervasive and ongoing challenges, yet there are increasing numbers of dedicated actors and civil society groups working to accelerate gender equality through governmental challenges and justice movements. In 2021, the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) was held in Mexico and France, mobilising $40 billion of pledged funding from governments and key actors. In 2022, these pledges should begin to be translated to policy changes and creative programming.

Policy Trends

As the pandemic spread across the globe in 2020, consequent calls for a system-wide reset following COVID-19 were made in anticipation of the Sustainable Development Goals and our ever-nearing goal post of 2030. While we have seen no such reset, humanitarians have begun to leverage development and aid funding with new and innovative financing models that break away from traditional forms. We have seen the World Bank take an increasingly vocal and active role in crisis contexts, and NGOs have better-informed governments on climate risk reduction policies, particularly at COP21. Most humanitarian programming is now underpinned with climate considerations and the development sphere is shifting to more localised action planning. However, adaptation finance continues to be from richer nations who are dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 on local economies, who have shifted priorities away from overseas aid funding. Micro-enterprise development will likely be a growing priority area in terms of development strategies. Such enterprises focus on developing economic independence among disadvantaged communities and longer-term economic integration. The Refugee Impact Bond is a new initiative which follows these principles, developing longer term independence of refugees by encouraging dynamic integration practices.

Final thoughts

A long-term vision is needed when considering the future of aid and development. An estimated half of all today’s crises are somewhat predictable and 20 per cent are highly predictable. However, less than 1 per cent of the financing for these crises is pre-arranged. Thus, our global approach must be more anticipatory to mitigate disasters in the future. This includes harnessing climate risk projections to inform all areas of humanitarian planning so that we can better understand and prepare for social vulnerability.

There have been ongoing high-level recommendations over the last few years, which have called for better synergy between development, DRR and humanitarian planning as the most effective humanitarian investments are in mitigating disasters rather than responding to them. We must continue to work on this synergy so that the global community is better prepared to deal with climate change, crises and ongoing developmental challenges. We must not use a colonial top-down approach to such aid but support localised programming and initiatives to ensure we can better prepare for our world’s future.

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