The past year has brought conflicts and health crises of “outstanding proportions”, warns leading humanitarian expert

Shameet Thakkar, a leading humanitarian aid expert and founder of Unimed Procurement Services, writes of the challenges those working in the sector face – and predicts these challenges will continue deep into 2024:

“Humanitarian aid should be a continued focus in our world. Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight for what the world is experiencing right now – climate change, conflicts, health crises – which means humanitarian aid and relief will continue to be called into action.

“In the last month alone there have been floods in Canada, India, London and South Korea, just to name a few. There are unbelievable heat waves across Europe, as well as harmful wildfires. Amongst other things, climate change is having a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of people.

“The past year has also brought conflicts and health crises of outstanding proportions. Ukraine, Lebanon and Sudan and are just some of the countries whose populations have been struck by unimaginable suffering.

“Now, think about the burden on the people affected – humanitarian aid and relief organisations are being called into action all the time to provide essential assistance. It’s therefore crucial that they can continue to be available to respond to emergencies.

“In turn, this means that supporting those organisations should be our priority. There isn’t a global, cyclical up and down when it comes to humanitarian aid. These organisations never stop working.”

Shameet explains how global economic issues are also impacting the sector:

“It is no secret that the world is experiencing high interest rates, inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, and businesses around the world are finding themselves in a more difficult position.

“But that’s due to markets – and consumer habits – changing. Yet there is no such thing as consumer habits when it comes to humanitarian aid. People can’t forgo shelter, clean water or essential medical products, regardless of interest rates or inflation.”

On the challenges which lie ahead, he predicted: “The world is changing, and yet through it all, humanitarian aid continues to play a crucial role in the development of people’s lives and countries.

“Developing countries just cannot provide enough support to their citizens, meaning there is a gap – international development organisations exist to plug that gap. And if those organisations don’t have enough funding, they won’t be able to provide their services; the consequential impact can be enormous.

“Issues such as the cost-of-living crisis and inflation pale in comparison to what some of the more unfortunate people in the world are experiencing. We have a duty to do everything in our power to support and empower the organisations that are making a difference.”

Shameet also warns that the challenges in this area are likely to last long into next year:

“I also expect these challenges will last long and deep into 2024. That’s why we need to make plans right now to ensure we have effective strategies in place for the new demands everyone working in this field faces.”