“It’s about showing compassion”

Jul 7, 2021

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.

Cash assistance empowers people to make their own decisions.


A stove, fuel, and small savings for the future.

Bibi Gul and her family. Photo: OCHA Afghanistan

Bibi Gul never planned to leave her home, but when conflict erupted five years ago, she and her husband took their children and fled. Now living in Ferozkoh in Ghor province, she found herself alone trying to support her family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My husband became addicted to heroin and for months he could not work. Then he left, and we haven’t heard from him since. We don’t even know if he is alive,” she said. Bibi Gul found work doing laundry and cleaning houses.

“Everything we have comes from what I earn day-to-day. My monthly income is around 1,000–1,500 AFS (US $13-$20) and it’s not enough to provide the essentials.”

In addition to living in a new place with no social support networks, the challenges faced by displaced families have been intensified by the effects of the pandemic. “For the last five months, we have been living in a makeshift shelter, but I don’t know how much longer the landowner will allow us to stay here,” she explained.

Ghor is in the highlands of Afghanistan, with one of the harshest winter seasons in the country with heavy snow and biting winds.

“My oldest daughter is eleven. She helps by collecting cartons and plastic from the street for the heater,” said Bibi. “The long winter season is very harsh here and we have not been able to keep warm. I was afraid that my children would die or become very ill. I worried we would not make it through.”

AfghanAid provided Bibi Gul with urgently needed cash that enabled her to purchase a stove and fuel. The assistance, provided by the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, keeps the family safe and warm. It also allows them to use their money to buy food and save something as a contingency to meet unforeseen needs. “I am so grateful to AfghanAid for coming to our aid. Now my children will have a warm room and I can keep them safe from illness.”

“I used to get scared a lot, but now I am happy. I go to school, I have best friends.”


Food, shelter, and “respect” for people affected by the Beirut blast.

The devastating Beirut port explosions left no one untouched. They claimed the lives of over 200 people, injured more than 6,000 people, and flattened surrounding neighborhoods. Photo: UNDP Lebanon

Sitting in a living room in Bourj Abi Haidar, in the heart of Beirut, Bouchra, who is over seventy, repeats almost the same words as other families affected by the blast.

“Since the Beirut blast our days have been really dark.”

Bouchra lives with her husband, her three children and her sister. “The blast made our house uninhabitable. Everything broke, the windows, the furniture. We can’t afford to fix it up… we can barely afford to eat.” Her daughter earns 450,000 liras per month (the equivalent of $50) and her two sons, whose wages have both been cut, together earn around only $133 every month.

For two months, Bouchra was provided with a hot meal every day by CARE International, through local partner Nusaned (‘We Support’), that fed the whole family — through funding from the Lebanon HF. The COVID-19 outbreak had yet to be controlled, so masks and disinfectants were also provided to reduce the risk of transmission.

With LHF support, partners provided cash for renting alternative accommodation for people in residential districts close to Beirut port while their destroyed homes were being repaired. Photo: UNDP Lebanon

Omar Saado, a senior field officer with Nusaned said, “It’s all about being more respectful to others as well as showing compassion. We are working on the ground with families like Bouchra’s, affected by the Beirut blast. We are restoring houses or distributing food parcels. People are very vulnerable and what we learned allows us to better protect our participants.”

Responding to Gender-Based Violence.

South Sudan

Supporting a community’s response to gender-based violence.

Women Aid Vision provides safe and friendly spaces for women and girls affected by conflict and violence. They organize group psychosocial support sessions. Photo: OCHA Sudan

Rebecca Atong lost her husband to communal violence and is now raising six children alone, in Yirol East County. Yet she still finds time to serve her community as a matron in her church, supporting women and girls affected by gender-based violence.

An increase in targeted attacks against women and girls during intercommunal fighting, as well as rising sexual violence in early 2020 towards displaced people and host community members in Lakes State, led Women Aid Vision (WAV) to provide safe and friendly spaces for women and girls, and individual and group psychosocial support. WAV selected Rebecca as a Community Volunteer for its GBV project.

“Women and girls in our community are overworked. They are expected to forage for roof thatching materials in the forests, which means walking long distances, putting them at risk of sexual assault.”

Rebecca also explains that at night women and girls are also vulnerable to sexual abuse — while using the toilet outside, or even while asleep in their homes when extended family members visit.

In June 2020, WAV ran a comprehensive case management training on GBV, where Rebecca learnt how to conduct a safe referral and how to disseminate information on available services. “We also learned some local risk mitigations, like collecting firewood or water in small groups, and encouraging adolescent girls to either stop moving around at night or to move with their closest brothers for safety. We have encouraged community members to practice these local solutions to avoid some of the GBV risks, and this has worked very well.”

Rebecca has noticed the difference in her community from simple solutions like providing women with solar-powered torches and menstrual kits.

With the support of the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund, WAV activities in Lakes State enabled 1,667 women to access GBV services and safe spaces in 2020. Training community members to deliver vital services has meant that they in turn have strengthened access to health, psychosocial support, legal aid and security and safety services, as well as raising awareness through volunteer outreach and radio.

People affected by conflict.


Running to save our own lives

Lamlam Abraha posing for a picture in her coffee shop in Um Rakoba refugee camp, Sudan. Photo: Ibrahim Suleimann

“I might forget everything else, but I will never forget that day on which my daughters and I escaped with fire around us — everything was burning along the way, the heavy sound of the bullets around us, a sound like rain in Tigray.”

She and her family travelled on foot, living at first under trees and sleeping rough until arriving in Um Rakoba camp in November 2020. At first, the situation in the camp was very dire.

With funding from the Sudan Humanitarian Fund, international NGO Welthungerhilfe (WHH) has been scaling up its response to help the refugees in Um Rakoba, ensuring that the most vulnerable have drinkable water, safe and proper sanitation facilities, and sound awareness about hygiene-related issues, including for COVID-19 prevention.

WHH is also ensuring that refugees get timely support with emergency shelter and household supplies. The protection needs of women and children from both the refugee and local host communities are addressed through safe spaces and information on where to get help.

With shelter and sanitation support provided through Welthungerhilfe and the Sudan Humanitarian Fund, Lamlam and her children feel somewhat more stable.

“Although it is not my home, I feel as safe and comfortable as in Dansha, where my home is. I can sleep and not be afraid of scorpions or snakes. I am sure to find a place to sleep and materials to sleep on. I am sure to have a meal because I have cooking utensils, and I am sure to drink and shower because I have water storage, jerrycans and a place to shower without fear.”

Responding to COVID in humanitarian crises.


Improving water and sanitation — and sharing information.

Water in Alteh camp. Photo © Binaa for Development

“When Yousef first came to Alteh camp in 2019, the camp did not have basic water and sanitation facilities. Many people displaced there were forced to buy expensive water. Living in a small tent with his wife and three children, Yousef is currently out of work.

Water testing in Alteh camp. Photo: Binaa for Development

Residents were buying expensive bottled water and lacked basic water and sanitation facilities. BINAA, supported by the Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund, established a WASH project in the camp, providing trucking, latrines, and water tanks to ensure safe access to clean water and sanitation.

When local partner BINAA established a WASH project in the camp — supported by the Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund — living conditions for residents noticeably improved.

Clean drinking water was provided regularly via trucking, and latrines and water tanks were set up to ensure people had safe and dignified access to sanitation.

Yousef still worries that in the current situation they need more support, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the first COVID cases were confirmed in northwest Syria in 2020, it caused panic and a lot of fear among the camp residents, especially as there was limited protection or even clear information about the virus. But now, with the increase in daily water supplies, the hygiene kits and better information, people are less afraid.”

Helping those affected by natural disasters.


Decreasing women’s daily burden by making water accessible.

“Fetching water is not as difficult as it was before,” says Hawo Mohamud, a mother living in New Camp IDP site in Qardho. Photo: OCHA Somalia

Hawo Mohamud is a single mother of nine children living in New Camp IDP site in Qardho. About two thirds of the population here are children and women. Opportunities to make money are very limited, and many families just cannot meet their basic needs. Hawo was left with injuries after a caesarean delivery last year and can no longer do manual or domestic jobs like cleaning and washing clothes in the nearby town.

“I used to walk at least 10 kilometres every day to fetch water, carrying heavy jerrycans on my back. However, due to my condition, I am no longer able to make the long trek or carry out any hard labour.”

Hawo explains. “I have resorted to begging, which is the only source of income for my family. My eldest sons are now 14 and 13 and they have dropped out of school to help me look after my other kids.”

After the 2020 floods, which made life even more difficult, humanitarian organizations stepped in to provide families with basic goods and services like shelter, piped water, mattresses and jerrycans. New Camp is one of seven settlements benefiting from a Save the Children International (SCI) piped water project, implemented thanks to funding from the Somalia Humanitarian Fund. Public amenities like the health centre, schools, and children’s play areas now have free, clean water.

“The water kiosk is close to my house. Fetching water is not as difficult as it was before so I am thankful to this humanitarian organization.’’

Now she sort out other problems. Hawo knows that her children’s situation will not improve if they are unable to get an education: she hopes that more humanitarian projects will provide job opportunities and education.

DR Congo

Responding to the needs of people with disabilities

Venant works in his workshop. His days have difficulties that are not always visible to others. Photo: Esther Nsapu.

“Sometimes, you stop a bus and the driver says you can’t get on because you won’t be able to pay.”

Venant Mataboro often experiences this situation when he goes to his workshop. He has been repairing shoes for many years in the city of Bukavu, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Father of five children, Venant gets up every morning to support his family. With a crutch in his hand his days are often strewn with difficulties that are hardly visible to others. When he doesn’t earn enough to pay his return fare, he has to walk home. At his pace, every kilometre takes a long time.

Beyond the daily discrimination, lack of income, problems in getting enough food and physical barriers like almost non-existent pavements, COVID-19 has highlighted the inequalities and vulnerabilities faced by people like Venant with limited mobility.

Since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the DRC in March 2020, some protection measures have been implemented in the country. However, people with disabilities have experienced new barriers. Getting water, using sanitation facilities or obtaining public health information has become quite challenging.

“I often go to the Uzima Health Centre. Every trip used to be a problem though, because there were no latrines adapted for people with disabilities.”

Taking into account the specific needs of vulnerable people and adapting services accordingly is crucial in the COVID-19 context. In 2020 TEARFUND, with funding from the DRC Humanitarian Fund, built good quality WASH infrastructure in 12 health centres for long term use, including by people with disabilities. In parallel, hygiene kits were provided to 1,200 vulnerable families, including those with disabilities.

An estimated 3.8 million people with disabilities needed assistance in the DRC in 2020. More than 620,000 people with disabilities, like Venant, were helped through HF funding. While this figure is more than double the number reached in 2019, much more needs to be done to ensure more effective humanitarian support for disabled people.

Thank you