USAID/BHA Annual Reports

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Fiscal Year 2020: Year in Review

Throughout Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, USAID staff continued to build the foundations of a new bureau dedicated to delivering humanitarian assistance quickly and effectively to millions of people preparing for, experiencing, and recovering from crises around the world. USAID's offices of Food for Peace (FFP) and U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) officially united on June 5, 2020, to become USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA). The new Bureau combines legacy FFP and OFDA staff, expertise, and resources, positioning USAID/BHA to better respond to the magnitude, complexity, and protracted nature of today's emergencies.

USAID/BHA saves lives, alleviates human suffering, and reduces the physical, social, and economic impact of humanitarian emergencies by supporting at-risk populations to build stable foundations. USAID/BHA also carries out USAID's mandate as the lead U.S. Government (USG) coordinator for international disaster response. USAID/BHA activities link closely with resilience and stabilization programming to mitigate the impacts crises have on development gains.

Amid the creation of the Bureau and a larger USAID redesign process, USAID/BHA staff continued to work hand in hand with partner organizations around the world to address the dynamic, interconnected humanitarian needs of populations affected by conflict, food insecurity, life-threatening disease outbreaks, natural hazards, and other crises. Among these was the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the impact of which contributed to unprecedented levels of humanitarian need. USAID/BHA played a critical role in the pandemic response, working with partners to prevent, mitigate, and respond to COVID-19 in international humanitarian settings and helping ensure partners were equipped to safely and effectively carry out their critical work responding to ongoing emergencies.

Just two months after becoming operational, USAID/BHA responded to its first sudden-onset emergency as a new bureau when a series of warehouse explosions on August 4 in Lebanon's capital city of Beirut resulted in widespread damage, 180 deaths, and 6,500 people injured. Within days, USAID/BHA mobilized a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the USG humanitarian response, deploying programmatic and operations personnel to coordinate with partners and interagency counterparts to meet urgent needs. The response articulated the unique challenges of rapid deployments during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring robust coordination and enhanced logistical support to ensure that efforts did not heighten risks for populations affected by the explosions.

Moreover, a second Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) created new challenges for BHA's ongoing response to an EVD outbreak in the eastern part of the country. Just before the declared end of the eastern DRC outbreak on June 25, the DRC Ministry of Health declared a new, simultaneous outbreak in Équateur Province on June 1. As a result, the DART—which had been responding to the eastern DRC outbreak since 2018—expanded its scope, as the complexity of the two outbreaks required additional response coordination and resource prioritization. COVID-19 further complicated response efforts when the pandemic prompted DART staff to evacuate the DRC in late March 2020. Working in a remote context, the DART demonstrated USAID/BHA's adaptability as staff remained flexible and increased coordination to continue delivering life-saving assistance in EVD-affected areas.

In the Middle East, the complex emergency in Yemen remained one of the most dire humanitarian crises in the world, and the USG was the largest humanitarian donor to the response in FY 2020. USAID/BHA was at the forefront of these efforts—the creation of USAID/BHA capitalized on the existing cooperation between legacy FFP and OFDA staff, who worked hand in hand to deliver comprehensive assistance to conflict-affected communities in Yemen, enabling USAID/BHA to reach between 8.5 million and 13 million people each month during the fiscal year. The response in Yemen showcased USAID/BHA's capacity to adapt to evolving needs and challenges even in the most difficult, restrictive operating environments to ensure assistance could reach those most in need.

These crises—in addition to the others USAID/BHA responded to in FY 2020—reflect the increasingly complex and multi-faceted nature of humanitarian emergencies today. USAID/BHA responded to persistent complex emergencies, including in Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, and addressed urgent needs in the wake of earthquakes, floods, storms, and other natural disasters, while also supporting risk reduction, early recovery, and resilience activities to help communities recover from and prepare for future emergencies. Through the dedication and leadership of our staff and partners, USAID/BHA's assistance remained vital to alleviating the suffering and bolstering the resilience of the world's most vulnerable populations in times of crisis.

Read the BHA FY2020 Annual Report here.

Annual Report Archive

Last updated: June 04, 2021

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