Global Humanitarian Overview 2021

A woman looks at the camera from her improvised tent

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Bagoundié, Mali

Aicha Dicko, 39, in her tent at an informal camp in Bagoundié, 8km from Gao, Mali, on 16 October 2020. The camp hosts 300 households who fled due to the ongoing conflict. "I hope I can go back to my home one day. What I want above all else for now is to be able to feed my children and that they can go to school to get a better future." OCHA/Michele Cattani

People in need
235.4 million
People targeted
159.9 million
Requirements (US$)
35.1 billion

In 2021, 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection.

This number has risen to 1 in 33 people worldwide - a significant increase from 1 in 45 at the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview 2020, which was already the highest figure in decades. The UN and partner organizations aim to assist 160 million people most in need across 56 countries and will require a total of $35 billion to do so.

Inter-Agency Coordinated Appeals: Overview for 2021

A girl looks at the camera
Global Humanitarian Overview 2021


This 13-year-old girl is a former Taizz resident. She and her family fled the fighting in 2015. Now she wants to be an architect and design modern buildings. OCHA/Giles Clarke

The Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) is the world’s most comprehensive, authoritative and evidence-based assessment of humanitarian need. Through plans that prioritize those most in need, it aims to fight hunger, killer diseases, gender-based violence and displacement.

A man stands in front of a dry field
Part one

Global trends

A farmer in Munyuki village, Mazambara district, cultivates cotton, maize and sorghum. He has been badly affected by drought and the economic crisis. “If I compare the temperatures between when I was a boy and now, it’s hotter and drier than before," he said. "Never have I lost two rounds of planting to drought. In Zimbabwe the first rains used to come in October, but now they are getting later.” WFP/Matteo Cosorich

Two boys wrapped in a blanket
Part two

Inter-Agency Coordinated Appeals

A 12-year-old Rohingya refugee covers herself and her 10-month-old niece. Both go for a walk in the early morning at the Kutupalong camp to warm up from the cold inside their shelter. UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

The United Nations and partner organizations aim to assist 160 million people most in need across 56 countries. This section presents an overview of results from 2020, needs for 2021 as well as country-specific and regional response plans.

Overview of appeals

Humanitarian Response Plans

Regional and Other Appeals

A nurse with a protective mask
Part three

Delivering better

This nurse works at the Gamkalé health centre in Niamey, Niger. “With the arrival of the first cases of COVID-19 in Niamey, the mothers were afraid to come to the health centre,” she says. “We noticed a drop in visits and it was very worrying because we know how much mothers and children need the routine services of the centre." Her colleague, the head of the centre's immunization unit, says: "We cannot turn our backs on other diseases such as polio or measles as their impact may be greater than COVID-19. With a lot of effort in raising awareness within the communities, mothers are starting to feel more comfortable with visiting the centre again, but the rhythm of visits is still slow compared to normal times. We are working hard to ensure the children continue to be vaccinated.” UNICEF/Juan Haro

As crises become more complex and protracted, humanitarians are constantly improving their response. Processes that enable this include, delivering aid through cash instead of goods, working with and through local actors and undertaking intersectoral analysis.