Through a selection of some of our most powerful photos, we reflect on 2017— a year that challenged, strengthened, and inspired us.
An outbreak of violence that began on August 25, 2017, in Myanmar’s Rakhine State forced more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees to flee across the border into Bangladesh. The United Nations has called the crisis “the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency.”
Most of the refugees arrived in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh. Action Against Hunger has scaled up its emergency response team in Cox’s Bazar, which now comprises 707 local humanitarian staff and 1,171 community volunteers. Since August 2017, we have served 2.8 million hot meals to newly arrived refugees, and delivered clean water, sanitation, and emergency health and nutrition services to 603,243 people in urgent need.
Eighty-year-old Halima lives in Eyl, in northeastern Somalia, where season after season of failed rains have caused a prolonged drought. She takes care of 12 orphaned children in her community. The drought has left her without food or income. Through Action Against Hunger’s emergency food security and livelihoods program, she is now receiving monthly cash transfers, which allow her to buy food or make decisions about her other urgent needs.
“Without the $70 I received these last two months and the help from my neighbors, I don’t know how we would have survived,” said Halima. “I was able to pay many of my debts with the money and now I can find milk and food for the children.”
Last February, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, with 100,000 people facing catastrophic hunger in Unity State. Although famine is no longer occurring in the two counties where it was declared in 2017 — thanks to intensive humanitarian interventions — acute food insecurity is now affecting 1.4 million more people than at the same time last year, and has been classified at emergency levels in fairly stable parts of the country.
Unlike the other photos in this collection, this photo was taken in 2016, before the conflict in Yemen intensified and became what is now the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. March 2018 marks the three-year anniversary of the onset of the war in Yemen: today, the country is experiencing a massive cholera epidemic in the midst of the collapse of its health system.
Action Against Hunger has been present in Yemen since 2012. Our team of more than 260 humanitarian staff is currently providing lifesaving treatment to malnourished children and other assistance to people in the areas of Abyan, Hajjah, and Lahij. In December 2017, we were forced to temporarily suspend our programs in Hodeidah due to conflict.
Midwife Ndiaye examines mother-to-be Dieymocha Dembebe at Bokidiawe Hospital in Matam, Senegal.
When ISIS took control of Mosul and surrounding areas in 2014, schools were closed and the education of most children was interrupted. Over the course of 2017, the city was gradually reclaimed from the militant group. Action Against Hunger installed a water point and a generator in the school when it reopened to make sure that students and teachers have access to clean water all day long.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
At the pediatric center in Bangui, the country’s capital, our staff works to strengthen the bonds between mothers and their children and to prevent and treat malnutrition. After facing repeated traumas, forging emotional connections can be immensely difficult, which cause lasting effects on mental and physical health for both parent and child.
One part of this program involves a simple activity: mothers bathing their children. For mother and child, it is a quiet moment of bonding and a refuge from the violence and extreme difficulties of daily life in Central African Republic.
In Lebanon, 25 percent of the population are refugees from Syria. In Bekaa Valley, home to nearly 400,000 refugees, Action Against Hunger provides safe water, sanitation, and food security and livelihoods programs to help prevent hunger and malnutrition.
Community Mobilizer Dara Vann conducts the first session to set up a rice bank in Kompenh village, Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. Action Against Hunger is working across the province to break the cycle of hunger. In some villages, we work with residents to set up community rice banks to provide safety nets and manage the risk of disaster and hunger for the poorest families. Rice banks allow extremely poor families to borrow rice in tough times at much lower interest rates, helping protect them from hunger and from falling into crippling debt.
Dara’s job is to inform communities, explain how the banks work and how they will benefit people, answer questions, and encourage as many people to join as she can.
One of Africa’s most populous cities, Abidjan’s urban poor population is particularly vulnerable to undernutrition. Action Against Hunger works with women throughout their lifespan to support family planning, reproductive health, and prenatal and antenatal care — helping to break the intergenerational cycle of hunger and reduce maternal and child mortality rates. Our programs also educate fathers, teaching them how they can best support their wives through pregnancy and helping to shift an age-old cultural tradition that childbearing and childrearing are solely “women’s work.”
Late November 2016, peace accords were signed to end half a century of armed conflict in Colombia between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Government. The past year marked one of transition, as Colombians began to close the most painful chapter in the country’s history. While signs of hope have begun to emerge, the country still faces enormous challenges. Action Against Hunger has been working in Colombia for more than two decades.
Muk fled fighting in his village in Myanmar with his mother, siblings, and grandparents. Now, they are refugees living in Balukhali camp in Bangladesh, along with more than 600,000 Rohingya people. At an Action Against Hunger food distribution, Muk collected bags of biryani rice to take back to his makeshift shelter for his family. Action Against Hunger has given Muk’s family food rations every day since they arrived in the camp a week ago, and our teams provided them with the first food they had eaten in days after they crossed the border into Bangladesh.
Most of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children: they comprise between 55 and 58 percent of the refugee population. In addition to providing lifesaving treatment for malnutrition and distributing food and clean water daily, our programs support child-friendly spaces where refugee children, most of whom have experienced immense trauma, can just be kids again.
In both host communities and in refugee settlements, Action Against Hunger supports health centers to prevent, diagnose, and treat acutely malnourished children and educate mothers about how to feed and care for babies and young children to promote their health and development. In the past year, our programs improved nutrition and food security for 244,568 vulnerable people across Uganda.
In Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, Action Against Hunger implements programs to ensure that people have access to clean water, sanitation, and adequate hygiene, with support from UNICEF. In addition to providing the camp's entire population with clean water, our programs also include hygiene promotion, water treatment, water supply, daily maintenance of more than 3,600 WASH facilities, and construction work.
Action Against Hunger's teams work in villages near the rural Gode health post in Ethiopia's Somali region to screen and provide lifesaving treatment for malnourished children. On the day this photo was taken, pregnant women and nursing mothers were waiting to collect their rations of ready-to-use therapeutic food to take home for children Action Against Hunger is treating through its outpatient program.