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Humanitarian Action

Halting the spread of ebola in DRC: 6 year old Elen washes her hands at a water tank.

Trócaire responds to humanitarian crises in countries affected by natural disaster, pandemics and conflict.

Armed conflicts and natural disasters deprive people of food, clean water, education, health services, sanitation and protection.  Devastating natural disasters like droughts and cyclones are increasing due to climate change.  Armed conflict has forced millions to flee their homes worldwide.

Thanks to your support, Trócaire provides rapid assistance where most needed. This support saves lives.

Long after the TV cameras have gone, we stay and support people to ‘build back better’. So that they are less vulnerable to future emergencies. So they can recover and live a life of dignity.

Why Humanitarian Action?

Across the world, the scale of humanitarian crises continues to grow.

Brutal conflicts are affecting staggering numbers of people. Particularly in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

Worldwide, over 70 million people have been displaced by conflict, violence and persecution. 37,000 people flee their homes every day because of conflict. Over half of the world’s refugees are children.

Conflicts deprive people of food, clean water, education, health services, sanitation and protection.  Conflicts put women and girls, in particular, at higher risk of violence and sexual exploitation.

While some conflicts attract high levels of media attention, many more are forgotten. In places like Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Palestine, conflict has affected people for decades.  The average length that a person is displaced is an astonishing 17 years.

People arriving in Europe to seek asylum has placed a spotlight on this issue. But, in reality, 84% of the world’s refugees live in developing countries.

At the same time, natural disasters are having a devastating impact. They are becoming more frequent and more extreme. Climate disasters – droughts, floods, storms – increase by the year. Hundreds of millions are at risk as the reality of climate change worsens.

Disasters and extreme weather conditions erode people’s ability to cope. They affect people’s ability to grow food and to earn an income. This makes it difficult to withstand future disasters and pandemics.

While some conflicts attract high levels of media attention, many more are forgotten. In places like Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Palestine, conflict has affected people for decades.  The average length that a person is displaced is an astonishing 17 years.

People arriving in Europe to seek asylum has placed a spotlight on this issue. But, in reality, 84% of the world’s refugees live in developing countries.

At the same time, natural disasters are having a devastating impact. They are becoming more frequent and more extreme. Climate disasters – droughts, floods, storms – increase by the year. Hundreds of millions are at risk as the reality of climate change worsens.

Disasters and extreme weather conditions erode people’s ability to cope. They affect people’s ability to grow food and to earn an income. This makes it difficult to withstand future disasters and pandemics.

How do we work on Humanitarian Action?

We focus on responding to the needs of the most vulnerable in a crisis.

Our approach to humanitarian action involves working in partnership with local organisations. What we mean by a ‘local organisation’ is one that comes from and works specifically in their own community.

During emergencies it is the local community and local organisations that respond first. Our local partners get aid to where it’s needed immediately. We work with our local partners, supporting them with expertise and our staff. This allows us to respond quickly, effectively and in the most appropriate way.

Trócaire is a member of the Caritas Internationalis network. This is the Catholic Church’s global confederation of 165 development agencies. When a crisis strikes, we support local Caritas agencies and other local organisations.

We provide a range of emergency supports to crisis-affected communities. These include:

  • Basic needs: Water, sanitation and food,
  • Protection: supporting women and girls’ safety and access to services in crisis,
  • Shelter: shelter and camps for people forced from their homes,
  • Healthcare: basic health care, maternal health care nutrition and hygiene.

The key standards we are guided by include the Core Humanitarian Standard and the Sphere standards. Committing to these standards ensures greater:

  • Effectiveness
  • Impact
  • Accountability to affected populations
  • Quality in our humanitarian response

The key humanitarian principles at the core of work are:

  • Humanity
  • Impartiality
  • Neutrality
  • Independence

  • Protection of women and girls

    Trócaire has a particular focus on Protection in our humanitarian programmes.

    This includes a commitment to Protection Mainstreaming (or Safe Programming), which we aim to embed in all our humanitarian work. In practice, this means delivering programmes that:

    • Prioritise the safety and dignity of communities we support and avoid causing harm;
    • Ensure meaningful access to our programmes, with a particular focus on individuals or groups that might be vulnerable or marginalised – including women, older people or people with disabilities;
    • Are accountable to the communities we support, including listening to and addressing concerns and complaints; and
    • Are built on the participation and empowerment of crisis-affected communities.

    Our work on Protection also includes specialised protection programmes for women, girls and at-risk groups in emergency settings. These programmes focus on responding to and preventing sexual and gender-based violence, working in fragile or conflict-affected contexts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia.

    Our interventions place an emphasis on linking women, girls and other at-risk groups to existing family and community support networks, as well as providing more specialised care when needed. This might include psychological and social support, support with safety planning, or support in accessing health services or legal aid. In Women’s and Girls’ Safe Spaces, group activities support coping capacity and resilience. We also work with key members of the community (such as healthcare staff or community leaders) to combat stigma and strengthen response systems.

    Working in partnership with local organisations – including women-centred organisations – our activities are community-led and rooted in local context and culture. We take a survivor-centred approach and are committed to meeting international standards and best practice, including the Inter-Agency Minimum Standards for GBV in Emergencies Programming (2019).

    We are committed to participatory research and learning to ensure our interventions are based on the best available evidence to meet the needs and priorities of women and girls affected by crisis.

    We are a Partner to the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies and a Core Member of the Gender Based Violence Area of Responsibility.

  • Emergency Preparedness

    One of the main objectives of our emergency programmes is to respond rapidly to needs in order to save lives and reduce suffering. In order to be able to do this, we support Trócaire programme countries and local partner organisations to prepare and plan for a crisis.

    This involves working with Trócaire country teams and local partners to identifying high risk areas and specific vulnerable groups, agreeing roles and responsibilities in an emergency and addressing any gaps in ability to respond in areas such as finance or logistics through the development of action plans. The Emergency Preparedness plans are then tested by conducting simulation exercises as part of this work.

  • Localisation

    Localisation of humanitarian aid came to the fore during the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.  It advocates placing local actors (civil society, faith and public institutions) at the centre of the humanitarian system to play a greater role in leadership and delivery of humanitarian response.

    As a partnership agency, Trócaire is committed to strengthening its partnership approach and to shifting the power dynamics, culture and financing mechanisms within the sector that currently stand in the way of localisation.

    Embedded across our humanitarian and policy work, we advocate for funding to prioritise localised humanitarian responses, supporting local and national organisations, particularly women-led organisations. Funding for local organisations must be longer-term, flexible and include adequate support for local organisations to cover their overhead costs, for example safety, health insurance and other risk management priorities.

    Through our partnership approach, we are committed to work with local organisations to build their organisational capacities, so that they are in a position to manage grants and grow their organisations.

    Read more: Partnership in Practice: Steps to Localisation

What impact are we having?

In 2019 we provided humanitarian help to 1.8 million people in 27 countries.


Healthcare to communities affected by war

Shelter and camps for people forced from their homes

Water, sanitation and food

Protecting women and girls in crisis

Ethiopia

520,000 people displaced by conflict reached with emergency help in 2019.

Sudan

Medical care for 385,000 people in the South Kordofan region.

DR Congo

365,000 people affected by conflict and Ebola supported with aid in 2019.

Somalia

Health care for 218,000 people, particularly pregnant women and new mothers.

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