Afghanistan: Humanitarian Response Plan (2018-2021) - Year-End Monitoring Report (Jan - Dec 2020)
Afghanistan: Humanitarian Response Plan (2018-2021) - Year-End Monitoring Report (Jan - Dec 2020)
Humanitarian needs driven and exacerbated by conflict, natural disasters and the multi-dimensional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect millions of people in Afghanistan at the end of 2020. The emergence of COVID-19 in Afghanistan resulted in a near-doubling of humanitarian need in the space of 12 months – up from 9.4 million in January 2020 to 14 million in June 2020 to 18.4 million in January 2021.
In 2020, $564.5 million (50 per cent of requirements) was received from donors towards a well-coordinated response, in addition to the $96m in late funding carried over from 2019. Humanitarians used this funding to reach 11.75 million people with life-saving assistance across the country throughout the year. Despite the challenging conditions, humanitarian partners were able to exceed the planned reach outlined in the mid-year revision. This is largely due to a significant scale-up in higher-reach, lower cost emergency COVID-19 activities, such as disease surveillance, testing, risk communications, hygiene promotion and food assistance. Unfortunately, the urgent need to recalibrate programming and resource allocation towards the COVID-19 response and mitigation has been at the expense of more complex and costly durable interventions that require greater time and investment. For example, there has been almost no donor investment in transitional shelter solutions, making it difficult to reduce vulnerability in the winter over the coming years. Thus, while the reach has remained high, the depth of assistance provided has been limited by underfunding. Reach with non-COVID-19 health programming was also affected by the community’s fear of contracting the virus at health facilities.
Despite a notable increase in security and access challenges and a need to re-adjust programme approaches to ensure COVID-safe protocols, some 165 partners were able to reach people in all 401 districts across the country with some form of assistance in the last quarter of the year. In many cases, this access was only possible after lengthy negotiations that often delayed the delivery of assistance. Access across the country remains unpredictable and Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an aid worker.
COVID-19 created space for humanitarian partners to expand engagement with development counterparts, jointly developing a common needs analysis to articulate the overlapping needs driven by the multi-dimensional impacts of the pandemic. The joint analysis further supported the design and rollout of an emergency social safety net package implemented through the Government-World Bank Dastarkhan-e-Mili programme. While rollout has been slower than expected, the distribution of food and direct cash transfers to households is expected to help people cope with the ongoing socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.
In 2020, the immediate and secondary impacts of the pandemic permeated all aspects of life. By the end of 2020, official figures from the Ministry of Public Health indicated COVID-19 had resulted in the deaths of more than 2,180 people and had infected more than 51,500 people. However, due to limited public health resources and testing capacity, lack of people coming forward for testing, as well as the absence of a national death register, confirmed cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are likely to be significantly under-reported overall in Afghanistan. A joint study by Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), Johns Hopkins University and WHO suggested that by June 2020, COVID-19 had infected more than 30 per cent of the population nationally (50 per cent of Kabul residents) and was likely to grow.
While the immediate response to COVID-19 focused largely on the health and hygiene impacts of the pandemic, humanitarian partners quickly adjusted approaches to respond to the pandemic’s secondary impacts on protection, food security and livelihoods, nutrition, and education. The economic and social conditions created by the pandemic exacerbated protection risks for vulnerable families, many of whom had already depleted their limited financial, mental, and social coping capacities due to prolonged conflict and recurrent natural disasters. The dramatic contraction in the country’s burgeoning economy, loss of informal livelihoods and the high prevalence and depth of household debt pushed all population groups to adopt dangerous coping strategies such as child marriage, and child labour. It also increased risks for women and girls who took on a greater care burden and who reported increase risks from gender-based violence (GBV). COVID-19 resulted in an estimated 5.5–7.4 per cent contraction in the economy in 2020, a significant spike in food prices, initial spikes in food prices by up to 20 per cent in the first half of the year, and reduced income for 59 per cent of households. Prices have since come down but remain higher than at the start of the pandemic.
The pandemic has required humanitarian partners to quickly adapt to new realities of restricted movement, unpredictable international and domestic flight suspensions, sporadic border closures and limited face-to-face interactions during needs assessments, group-based activities, distributions and awareness-raising work. In response, partners have scaled-up their capacity to respond via new approaches that are more suited to operations within this demanding environment. Overall partners reached 4.68m people with COVID-19 specific support.
Violence and insecurity
2020 continued to be characterised by high levels of civilian casualties and conflict which delayed the delivery of assistance to people in need. Despite three temporary ceasefires in 2020, a significant reduction in the number of civilians injured due to attacks by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and a drop in the number of airstrikes carried out by international military forces over recent years, the continued use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), asymmetric attacks, targeted killings and attacks on schools and hospitals have been devastating for the people of Afghanistan. 8,820 civilians were killed (3,035) or injured (5,857) throughout 2020, representing a 15 per cent reduction from the number of civilian casualties recorded in 2019 and the lowest number of civilian casualties in one year since 2013. While civilian casualties have decreased overall, 2020 witnessed a 34 per cent increase in civilian casualties from pressure-plate IEDs and a tripling in civilian casualties from non-suicide vehicle-borne IEDs by NSAGs compared to 2019. Additionally, UNAMA recorded a marked increase in civilian casualties in the last quarter of 2020 – the uptick corresponding with the formal start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
Children continued to bear a disproportionate burden of the conflict and represented 30 per cent of all civilian casualties in 2020 – the same percentage as in 2019. Children also made up almost 8 out of every 10 civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war (ERWs - 73 killed and 214 injured). The disproportionate harm of ERWs to children goes beyond these figures, as children who survive these explosions often have to cope with the long-term impact on their quality of life, through physical disability and visual impairment and emotional and psychological trauma. UNAMA also reports that more women were killed in 2020 (390) than any year since systematic documentation began in 2009, mainly from targeted killings and non-suicide IEDs. Additional systematic violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) continue to be reported, ranging from deliberate attacks on health and education facilities to targeted killings, and the forced recruitment of children. As of December 2020, UNAMA recorded 89 attacks impacting on healthcare delivery, including attacks in which medical facilities were damaged (11), destroyed (2), looted (2) or closed (57), thus denying approximately 1.4m people access to life-saving medical care.
Decades of conflict have caused concerning levels of physical and mental impairment amongst the people of Afghanistan with approximately 79 per cent of adults and 17 per cent of children estimated to have a physical disability, while 8.5 per cent of the population live with a severe disability. Conservative estimates from the 2018 National Mental Health Survey funded by the European Union further indicate that over half of the population suffer from some form of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress as a result of these conditions in Afghanistan, and a Global Protection Cluster analysis warns this has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.
Internal displacement and cross-border returns
As of December 2020, 397,138 people were newly displaced by conflict, the largest displacements occurred in north-eastern region (143,332) followed by the northern region (67,663), southern region (62,535), and western region (38,385). According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix data, some 4.8 million IDPs are estimated to have been displaced since 2012 and have not returned to their homes. Figures from the Whole of Afghanistan (WoA) Assessment show that the vast majority of those displaced long term do not intend to return in the next six months and around half never intend to return. Many displaced people reside precariously in urban informal settlements with insecure land rights. An Informal Settlements Monitoring report carried out by REACH Initiative shows there are 1,147 informal settlements across Afghanistan; the majority (78 per cent of all settlements) are located in urban or peri-urban areas, where competition for land is high and the threat of eviction is severe. COVID-19 has increased the uncertainty of housing, land and property (HLP) rights for these vulnerable groups. This is particularly concerning for some 27 per cent of residents of informal settlements who are renters and are likely to face difficulties meeting rental payments as the economic impact of COVID-19 continues. In response, humanitarian partners mobilised a multi-sector response to address the needs of 375,839 people newly displaced by conflict in 2020.
The economic downturn in the region has also triggered record numbers of migrants returning back to Afghanistan, with 865,793 crossing the border by the end of the year, the vast majority of whom returned to Afghanistan from Iran with humanitarian needs. Many reported that they felt compelled to return to Afghanistan due to COVID-19, pandemic-related restrictions, lack of employment opportunities abroad, and threats of deportation or criminalisation. Returns from Iran in 2020 (859,092) were up by 179 per cent from 2019 (479,902). During the year, humanitarian partners reached more than 344,000 of these returnees with assistance in at least one sector, however partners did not have resources to fully cover their multi-layered humanitarian needs. There remain more than 72,000 refugees from Pakistan living in Afghanistan whose needs disproportionately deteriorated during the year as a result of COVID-19. The socio-economic impact of the pandemic has deepened the vulnerability of refugees. Refugees’ overwhelming reliance on daily wage labour to meet their basic needs magnified the impact of COVID-19 movement restrictions. According to the 2020 WoA Assessment, three quarters (77 per cent) of refugees were found to have severe or extreme food security needs. Alarmingly, 94 per cent of refugee households reported having limited access to food as a result of COVID-19. On average, refugee households had nearly twice as much debt compared to other households (85,484 AFN/$1,100 for refugees compared to between 42,000 AFN/$545 and 48,500 AFN/$630 for other households.
More than 104,600 people were impacted by natural disasters, including flooding, heavy snowfall, landslides and avalanches in 2020. Natural disasters regularly affect various parts of the country, with those in the capital, the south east, and east bearing the brunt in 2020. Flash flooding in Parwan was especially severe. The number of people impacted by floods in 2020 was significantly lower than 2019. Humanitarian partners broadly reached 111,800 natural disaster-affected people, mostly impacted by floods, with a multi-sectoral response. Winterisation needs in 2020 were particularly high due to the pandemic and limited investment in more durable shelter solutions. An inter-cluster winterisation strategy, devised jointly with the Government, identified 4.8m people in need of assistance, 2.5m of whom were prioritised for assistance. By the end of 2020, humanitarians had reached approximately 1.2m people with some form of winterisation assistance, including cash for seasonal food assistance (1,218,300), support for heaters/fuel (125,500), winter clothing packages (56,900), blankets and quilts (16,700), and cash for rent (8,000).
Food insecurity and malnutrition
Hunger and malnutrition spiked amid the ongoing conflict and economic downturn, with food insecurity now on par with the 2018-2019 drought, leaving Afghanistan with the second highest number of people in emergency food insecurity in the world – 5.5 million people – at the end of 2020. The 2020 Seasonal Food Security Assessment (SFSA) showed that with the onset of COVID-19, the number of people in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity (Integrated Food Security Phase 3+) had risen to 16.9 million, or 42 per cent of the population from November 2020-March 2021. Food insecurity, forced displacement, low access to health services, and poor access to water and sanitation have also led to a sharp decline in the nutritional status of children. Almost half of children under five will need life-saving nutrition support in 2021, as will a quarter of pregnant and lactating women (PLW). In 2020, Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) partners were successful in responding to the urgent food and livelihood needs of 9.54 million people, more than doubling the 4.4m people who were reached in 2019. Of this, lifesaving food assistance reached 7.47 million people, while livelihood protection assistance was extended to 2.15 million people. While humanitarian partners were able to treat 967,229 children under 5 for Severe and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (SAM/MAM) in 2020, nutrition surveys conducted in late 2020 showed that 27 out of 34 provinces were considered to be above the emergency level threshold of acute malnutrition; 10 provinces are facing critical situations as of the end of 2020. This sharp decline in nutritional status partly stems from the surge in acute food insecurity over recent years, forced displacement, low access to health services (physical accessibility and distance to nutrition services), poor access to water and sanitation, combined with poor maternal nutrition, high levels of stunting, low immunisation coverage and a high overall disease burden. Poor feeding practices of infants and young children are also contributing factors. The Nutrition Cluster estimates that roughly 14 per cent of all acute malnourishment in Afghanistan is due to COVID-19.
Household debt has become a pervasive negative coping mechanism utilised by vulnerable families to survive the impact of the pandemic, ongoing conflict and recurrent natural disasters. The prevalence and scale of indebtedness has increased considerably for all population groups in 2020 compared to 2019. The prevalence of catastrophic levels of debt (more than 65,000 AFN/$855) is pronounced with 17 per cent of households surveyed in WoA Assessment considered to be at this level. Compounded by a worsening negative median net income (-500 AFN/-$6.58), these findings point to a cyclical dynamic of ever-worsening debt, with decreased resilience and minimal ability to absorb further shocks. The need to respond to the multi-faceted impacts of the pandemic has driven accelerated planning between humanitarian and development actors in 2020, resulting in a new framework for a common needs analysis and an agreement on the number of people in need of social assistance (35 million people in mid-2020 and 30.5 million in 2021). This collaboration provided the targeting criteria for the Government and the World Bank’s Dastarkhan-e-Milli programme. While the programme faced a number of challenges, including challenges on how to deliver the programme in 47 ‘hard-to-reach areas’, rollout began to some areas in late 2020 and will continue into 2021.
Progress against cross-cutting priorities
Significant progress has been made to more fully integrate gender, age, mental health, Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), Accountability to Affected People (AAP) and disability considerations into all components of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) - from assessments to planning, as well as implementation and monitoring. In 2020, Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) continued to give significant attention to cross-cutting issues. In line with the recommendations of the Peer-2-Peer mission in 2019 HCT presentations are now given on one of five mandatory areas of responsibility every week - Protection, AAP, Gender, GBV and PSEA keeping these issues high on the HCT agenda. Disability will also be added to this rotation in 2021.
At an operational level, it had been recognised that disability had been under-reported and under-programmed, leading to a commitment to more fully integrate disability questions into needs assessments (notably the WOA Assessment– the country-wide multi-sector needs assessments upon which humanitarian needs analysis and response planning relies). To better include a multi-dimensional approach that recognises that disability exists on a spectrum, the Washington Group Short Set questionnaire has been integrated into the WOA and other inter-sectoral assessments and disability will be included in Cluster needs and response reporting in 2021.
Accountability to Affected People (AAP)
AAP coordination and response in Afghanistan was reinvigorated in 2020 with the recruitment of a dedicated AAP specialist in April, hosted by OCHA. With the support of the AAP specialist, the AAP Working Group (AAP WG) held its first meeting in July 2020 and through a series of remote workshops, adopted Terms of Reference, a Strategic Framework and work plan to address accountability shortcomings identified in the 2019 Peer-2-Peer report. Co-led by OCHA, UNHCR and BBC Media Action, the Working Group has aligned its key functions with the priorities outlined in the HCT Compact and the Mutual Accountability Framework and aligned with the Collective Approach to Community Engagement (CACE) strategy. Activities include expanding collective feedback channels to complement the Awaaz call centre; supporting AAP activities across clusters; building the AAP capacity of humanitarian staff in all regions; creating minimum standards, tools and indicators for mainstreaming AAP and community engagement in all programming phases; and supporting collective analysis of information gathered from affected people. Since its launch, the WG has initiated the collection of an extensive list of recommended actions and indicators to integrate AAP in programming in all sectors and coordination body activities; established an inventory of AAP-related assessments, surveys, focus group discussions and other direct research with crisis-affected people that organisations can review to avoid duplication and source data that has already been collected; promoted the inclusion of indicators in future HRPs that are based on the perceptions of shock-affected community members; created guidance for partners on integrating AAP activities in project proposals submitted for Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF) support and reviewed AAP and community engagement aspects of project proposals; and worked with REACH to strengthen AAP and PSEA questions in the WOA Assessment.
Awaaz is the only inter-agency feedback mechanism in Afghanistan and has now operated as an integral part of the response for nearly 3 years, handling 145,000 calls since its inception in May 2018. Awaaz demonstrated its flexibility in 2020 by expanding its two-way communications with partners and affected people as part of the COVID-19 response. In 2020, Awaaz handled more than 50,200 calls (77 per cent men, 23 per cent women, 13 per cent children) across all 34 provinces. Awaaz proved to be a vital, real-time information source during the COVID-19 response and supported partners with the dissemination of key COVID-19 messages. From mid-February 2020, Awaaz handled 3,784 calls specifically related to COVID-19 and shared key messages developed with WHO to raise awareness of COVID-19 risks with nearly 40,000 callers. The pandemic has posed several operational challenges for Awaaz, particularly in terms of continued staffing of the call centre. Since early April 2020, two functionally identical teams have been operating at the call centre, separate from each other, on different shifts to reduce the risk of transmission and ensure business continuity.
Given the intensified needs for robust community engagement efforts to raise awareness of COVID-19 and provide communities with accurate information relating to its prevention and available support, in March 2020, WHO and NRC launched the risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) working group. The RCCE WG was instrumental in coordinating inter-agency efforts and supporting the Government’s RCCE efforts. Among other outputs, the RCCE WG developed a process for tracking rumours and correcting COVID-19 misinformation and developed an RCCE training module to build RCCE capacity throughout Afghanistan. To further streamline all AAP efforts, the RCCE WG has been integrated as a sub-group within the broader AAP WG.
Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)
In 2020, significant progress was made towards ensuring PSEA remained a core component of humanitarian response and a collective area of focus among the humanitarian community. The PSEA Taskforce started work in April 2019 and continued to meet regularly in 2020. The Taskforce was initially co-chaired by UNHCR and IRC until June 2020; it is currently co-chaired by WFP, UNFPA and DRC. In 2020, the PSEA Taskforce drafted guiding principles for mainstreaming PSEA in all clusters; updated key referral pathways for victims of PSEA; developed Inter-agency Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for recording and processing SEA complaints; shared PSEA technical guidance for COVID-19; identified PSEA focal points across agencies and developed training for those focal points. The Taskforce also continued to strengthen engagement with Protection Cluster partners, ensure integration with existing mechanisms for AAP, and provide regular updates to the HCT on progress via scheduled Mandatory Area of Responsibility presentations.
Gender in Humanitarian Action (GiHA)
In April 2020, the HCT established the Gender in Humanitarian Action Working Group for COVID-19 (GIHA-C) to support implemention of gender-sensitive COVID-19 prevention and protection response activities. The GIHA-C was stood up for an initial six-month period during which time members provided key messages and evidence-based recommendations to the HCT and the ICCT, technical support to clusters and thematic groups, particularly the RCCE WG and IPC Secretariat, and a stronger gender analysis to inform the revisions to the HRP in mid-2020 and 2021. The HCT has since extended the mandate of the group – now the GIHA WG - into 2021 with a wider focus to support partners across the response. The WG is co-chaired by UNWOMEN, IRC, and Medica Mondiale and continues to provide operational guidance on planning and practice, strengthening accountability to gender equality in humanitarian action. The working group is also providing regular strategic updates to the HCT via scheduled Mandatory Area of Responsibility presentations.
In 2020, 45 national and international partners delivered more than $56.7 million in cash and voucher assistance (CVA) in Afghanistan to meet the needs of more than 2.6 million people. This represents a significant expansion of the use of cash from 2019 when only 24 organisations reported using cash as a modality. The scale-up in CVA use is partially due to its relevance in remote programming in the COVID-19 pandemic, responsiveness to community acceptance and preference, and donor support and advocacy in line with global commitments. While the majority of CVA was provided according to sectoral needs — primarily for food assistance, emergency shelter and non-food items (ES-NFI) needs — 30 per cent of all CVA assistance was delivered as multi-purpose cash (MPC), indicating a growing interest in utilising unconditional CVA approaches to better support community choice and flexibility. The Cash and Voucher Working Group (CVWG), co-chaired by DRC and WFP, has continued to provide technical advice and capacity building, including through the provision of thematic technical sessions to CVWG members as well as to Protection, ESNFI, Nutrition, and FSAC partners. A CashCap, initially hosted by OCHA and then WFP, further supported these efforts. Additionally, together with the REACH initiative, the CVWG initiated a Financial Service Provider (FSP) mapping which will be used to further enhance the relationship between humanitarian and development partners with FSPs, identify critical areas for improvement and work to jointly troubleshoot challenges. The CVWG also worked with the REACH initiative to develop the Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JMMI). This joint initiative builds on individual agencies’ market data-gathering efforts to improve collective analysis along an agreed set of market functionality indicators. As a pilot country for the Global Common Cash System (CCS), CCS partners (UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and OCHA) also worked in close collaboration with the CVWG to update its workplan to more effectively support the priorities of CVWG members, including by taking forward advocacy with national banks to expand financial inclusion and digital payment envelopes.
Attacks on aid and humanitarian access constraints
Afghanistan remains in the top five most dangerous countries to be an aid worker. In 2020, 22 aid workers were killed, 53 injured and 110 abducted. 2020 witnessed more than double the number of access incidents reported by aid workers – 1095 incidents compared to 444 in 2019. Reported access incidents include interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities, levy requests, military operations and kinetic activity, movement restrictions, physical environmental factors and lack of infrastructure, violence or threats against humanitarian personnel, assets or facilities, and landmines. Despite the reported access challenges, humanitarian partners were still able to deliver at least some form of assistance in all 401 districts during the year, although this often involved lengthy access negotiations that frequently delayed the delivery of life-saving assistance.
Despite the heightened pressure on the healthcare system due to COVID-19, health facilities and workers continued to suffer targeted harm from attacks, as well as acts of intimidation by parties to the conflict. In 2020, WHO recorded 89 attacks on health care. Active conflict and the intentional targeting of health facilities and staff by parties to the conflict has led to the periodic, prolonged, or permanent closure of critical health facilities, impacting as many as 1.4 million people across at least 18 provinces in 2020. Education has also been targeted. As of September 2020, 50 attacks on education were recorded of which 42 were verified including 4 schools that were completely burnt and 27 that were damaged.
The COVID-19 pandemic is also adding to pre-existing risks for aid workers as PPE shortfalls continue to pose risks for frontline responders and the general community has become complacent about protective measures, including mask wearing, despite the ongoing health threats. As of 31 December, 86 frontline health workers had died due to COVID-19.
To support in managing access challenges, the Humanitarian Access Group (HAG) developed a series of training modules to roll out the Joint Operating Principles (JOPs) to the humanitarian community, donors and parties to the conflict. In 2020, 18 Training-of-Trainer sessions were held, skilling 235 humanitarians from 31 NNGOs, 39 INGOs and 8 UN agencies. With the outbreak of the pandemic, the HAG also developed a COVID-19 Access Strategy to support partners to continue to ‘stay and deliver.’ The HAG continues to collect and analyse information on access trends to support evidence-based advocacy with the donor community, humanitarian coordination entities and parties to the conflict. The HAG strengthened access analysis in the monthly humanitarian snapshot following a review of the Access Monitoring and Reporting Framework (AMRF).
Outlook for 2021
At the close of 2020, Afghanistan was continuing to experience intense political, security, health and environmental uncertainty. In particular, the lack of clarity over the direction of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations in Doha, the planned international military force drawdown and the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic make accurate longer-term forecasting of needs, the operational environment and financial requirements challenging. The security outlook for the immediate future anticipates a deterioration in the conflict situation, largely connected with turbulence around the Intra-Afghan talks and related efforts by parties to strengthen negotiating positions, in addition to the drawdown of international military forces. This is reinforced by trends seen in the second half of 2020 after the negotiations began, with significant attacks that caused civilian casualties, fear and distress. It is also anticipated that the health and socio-economic impact of COVID-19 will likely be felt throughout 2021 with an overwhelmed health system and interrupted primary health care for non-COVID patients. There is also likelihood of continued reluctance to seek health services due to COVID-19 with significant need for confidence-building on infection prevention and control. The economic situation, which has already driven a large-scale hunger crisis, escalating household debt and negative coping mechanisms, will create a more severe food security situation. This will be exacerbated by La Nina-fuelled climate fluctuations driving higher temperatures and lower precipitation through the spring posing the threat of drought.
Implications for response planning in 2021
By the end of 2020, humanitarian partners witnessed a record breaking 865,793 nationals return from Iran and Pakistan - the vast majority of whom returned in situations of dire humanitarian need. A staggering 16.9 million people (42 per cent of the population) were projected to be in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity between November 2020 and March 2021 and are at risk of slipping further into worsening need without adequate assistance. Nearly one in two children under-five will become acutely malnourished and need urgent, life-saving assistance. Significant unmet needs from 2020 due to under-funding, fear of contracting COVID-19 at health and nutrition facilities and the slow roll-out of planned development assistance have contributed to a worsening needs profile for 2021.
In 2021, partners will kick-start their response with some $162m – received towards the end of 2020 – on hand. This figure is higher than 2020 but is against significantly increased needs and is not spread evenly across all sectors. Late contributions to FSAC and funding for Education in Emergencies (EiE) activities that were suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19 make up the majority of this funding. The Health, WASH and Nutrition clusters start 2021 with almost no carryover funds to support their work. As always, available carry-over funds will be used to support implementation of many activities during the first quarter of the year, however substantial commitment of additional funds will be required to catch-upon the many activities that were missed or only partially delivered in 2020. The HCT will anchor its response in a more targeted focus on vulnerability (including gender and disability) within its analysis and response; expanded thematic preparedness planning; strengthened access monitoring and negotiation capacity; additional commitments to updating and implementing a robust HCT protection strategy; and increased capacity to deliver the response via a people-centred approach.