Launching their annual report this week, Trócaire, the Overseas Development Agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, thanked the people of Ireland, north and south, for their remarkable support in helping to raise €73 million during one of the toughest years in living memory.
The Covid-19 pandemic impacted every community at home and in every country across the world. Despite challenges presented by the pandemic here in Ireland, Trócaire was able to reach 2.7 million people in 25 countries who were in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
The solidarity shown to the world’s poorest by Irish people during the pandemic was humbling according to Trócaire’s CEO, Caoimhe de Barra. Launching the annual report Ms de Barra said, “I am immensely grateful for – and humbled by – the response of our staff, partners, supporters, governing body members and donors. All of these individuals and organisations worked extremely hard to help Trócaire respond in support of those most affected by this global pandemic. In 2020/21, despite all of the challenges presented by the pandemic, we supported 2.7million people in 25 countries.
“This level of impact would not be possible without the commitment of our teams, partners and supporters all over Ireland. People here at home should be very proud of the positive and lasting change they have created.”
Trócaire’s annual report details an increase of 15% on funds raised from the previous year with the total amount of €73 million being the highest income raised in three years.
A lack of access to basic resources such as land, food and water traps millions of people in extreme poverty. Climate change continues to have its most devastating impacts in poorer countries, while marginalised groups are routinely denied access to vital natural resources.
Last year, Trócaire’s programmes in this area supported 301,000 people in 13 countries: DR Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Trócaire responded to the large-scale conflict which broke out in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, displacing tens of thousands of people. Sexual violence, including rape, has become a weapon of war in the conflict. Trócaire was able to provide psychosocial support to people and communities affected by the conflict, along with the delivery of temporary shelter materials, blankets, sleeping mats, cooking items and hygiene kits for families displaced by and made homeless by the conflict.
In 2020, Irish Aid contributed €22 million to Trócaire’s work demonstrating once again the Irish government’s support and commitment to eradicating global poverty and hunger. With Irish Aid funding, Trócaire was able to reach 426,383 individuals with support to mitigate the risks of Covid-19, including secondary impacts such as food insecurity and violence against women.
Women’s empowerment and health have been a key focus for Trócaire in the last 12 months. The report outlines Trócaire’s commitment to women’s empowerment and health to shape transformative progress in eradicating poverty and hunger. The women’s empowermentprogrammes support women to increase their voice and influence in decision-making at family, community and national level.
Approximately 9,000 vulnerable people, predominantly women and girls, also received specialised protection support in eight countries.
Psychosocial sessions adapted to the Covid context by using socially distanced groups in Myanmar and South Sudan and WhatsApp groups in Lebanon.
Additionally, the report also details how Trócaire has been the only healthcare provider in the Gedo region of Somalia for 30 years. In a region where maternal and child health is a huge challenge, Trócaire is supporting 19,000 people every month – ensuring doctors and nurses were available, even during the pandemic.
2020 was a challenging year for the protection of human rights
The Trócaire annual report highlights the significant challenges to democratic space and the protection of human rights in 2020. There was a continued trend of authoritarianism and corruption in countries where Trócaire works, which was exacerbated by Covid-19.
The report details how the human rights of 107,000 people were protected in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Palestine and Zimbabwe.
In 2020 Trócaire continued to support partners to protect human rights through actions including documenting human rights violations, supporting human rights defenders and providing psychosocial support.
Partners in Guatemala led 51 cases that resulted in favourable outcomes for human rights defenders and survivors of rights violations. 627 actions were also taken to safeguard human rights defenders (HRDs) and ensure protection services for 2,308 rights-holders and HRDs under threat in indigenous and campesino communities.
Additionally, the report adds that over 1,000 Palestinians were able to continue living in their homes in the West Bank due to the temporary suspension of Israeli demolition orders as a result of legal proceedings during one of the most devastating humanitarian crisis in the 21st century.
One of Trócaire’s key digital initiatives outlined in the report was the development and launch of a new Trócaire website. The website became an even more vital tool for communicating the issues facing the communities Trócaire works with around the world. 2020/21 saw significant increases in engagement and income through www.trocaire.org
Among the charities key advocacy priorities in 2020/21 were investment in Ireland’s overseas aid budget and the advancement of the campaign for Ireland to support a binding UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights.