Where could the need be greatest in 2018?

ConflictDisastersPeacebuildingFood SecurityInjustice

This year we have seen continuing crises in places such as Yemen, Central African Republic, South Asia and across East Africa. But what is the outlook for 2018? Where in the world could the need be greatest?

We asked our international teams to outline what they believe will be the main areas of need in 2018. Here’s what they say:

East and Southern Africa

Contributed by Donald Mavunduse, head of region

Photo: Tom Price/ Tearfund

At a glance:

  • 50 per cent of the population in South Sudan need food aid
  • Two million refugees created by conflict in South Sudan
  • 80-90 per cent of livelihoods in Somaliland lost due to drought

Three years of drought have devastated Somaliland. As livestock farming is the predominant livelihood here, this is a game-changer. With no sign of the drought lifting yet, some innovative thinking about alternative livelihood options will be needed.

In South Sudan the conflict rages on and there is little international pressure for it to end. The trend of escalating displacement and disrupted livelihoods is expected to continue. There are warnings that famine could be declared in some areas early in 2018. South Sudan remains the most dangerous place for aid workers, with six killed in one recent incident.

The Burundi crisis has not received enough international attention. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians continue to struggle to access basics such as food, and many are still displaced from their homes and living as refugees in countries such as Tanzania.

West and Central Africa

Contributed by Martin Jennings, head of region

Photo: Hazel Thompson

At a glance:

  • 889,000 people face food insecurity in Chad and Mali
  • 2.5 million people in the Central African Republic predicted to need humanitarian assistance in 2018
  • £1.26 billion required to help 13 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 1.7 million people forced from their homes in Nigeria

The number of people in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger, known as the Sahel belt, who will require humanitarian assistance is set to increase, according to recent assessments. Poor rainfall has caused a major shortfall in cereal and pasture production, with many not having enough food in the lean season (July – August). Committed prayer is required for our work in these countries, and, more importantly, for the people affected.

The Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remain incredibly vulnerable due to political unrest and increasing violence. Conflict has displaced millions of people, forcing many into neighbouring countries. Humanitarian needs such as food, water and sanitation are not being fully met, with the violence making aid and relief work incredibly difficult.

Many women in DRC have encountered or are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and protection is required. Please pray that those in need can be reached and supported.

In Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, there has been a significant increase in the cost of living, resulting in economic pressure and people not being able to meet their basic needs. The mudslides in Sierra Leone in August 2017 killed over 1,000 people and left many more lacking access to basic services and shelter. Tearfund has been responding by providing food, clean water, mattresses, blankets, clothing and medication.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's Boko Haram crisis persists, with millions still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The north-east of the country in particular faces ever-increasing levels of food insecurity. Key infrastructure and shelter has been destroyed during the insurgency, leaving millions of people unable to rebuild their livelihoods or access health services. Lift up those in need that cannot be reached, and those who are trying to go back home and restart their lives and pray for their protection.

Eurasia, Latin America and Caribbean

Contributed by Sarah Newnham, head of region

  • 22.2 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Yemen
  • Three million people displaced across Iraq
  • Armed groups likely to take advantage of power vacuums across the Middle East

In Yemen, food, health, water and sanitation needs are set to increase throughout 2018. The risk of falling into famine remains a threat if commercial imports deteriorate any further, and if active conflict cuts people off from trade and humanitarian aid. Also, the cholera outbreak may continue due to the lack of clean water, sanitation, hygiene and healthcare.

In Iraq, Kurdish and Iraqi forces regained substantial territory from ISIS in 2017, while one million people were displaced. With the loss of its last stronghold in Iraq, ISIS will most likely shift towards more non-traditional conflict strategies and improvised attacks.

The rate of people returning to their homes in Iraq has increased throughout 2017. This trend is likely to continue into 2018, despite concerns over personal protection, the availability of shelter, and the opportunities to rebuild livelihoods.

When they return to their communities, many Iraqis will face unresolved conflicts, contamination from explosives, and limited livelihood opportunities. Establishment of civil governance structures and delivery of public services will be the primary challenge within Iraq. Various opposition armed groups are likely to take advantage of these new power vacuums to gain supporters, causing greater instability.

Across Latin America, complex challenges remain, including how to reduce poverty and inequality, and how to improve citizen security and resilience to disasters. Among the most vulnerable groups in Latin America are the indigenous groups, as they tend to have a lower level of education, unequal access to land and other productive assets, and fewer opportunities in general.


Contributed by Steve Collins, head of region

Photo: Andrew Philip/Tearfund
  • 30 million people affected by severe flooding in South Asia
  • Over 1,200 people killed by the 2017 floods
  • One million refugees from Myanmar currently housed in camps in Bangladesh

In August 2017, Bangladesh, India and Nepal were devastated by widespread flooding. Over 1,200 people were killed, yet the disaster had very little mainstream media coverage in the UK. People who were already vulnerable and living in poverty were the most affected and will continue to struggle to rebuild their lives.

It’s likely that disasters of this nature will continue to strike across Asia in 2018, and, whilst we might not see any one event on a similar scale to the floods, the numbers of people affected by multiple small and medium scale disasters will be significant.

Whilst most countries in Asia continue to experience overall economic growth, the favourable headlines hide the continued plight of many groups who continue to be marginalised and are treated unjustly. The most obvious example we have seen in 2017 is Muslims who have been forced to flee into Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Around 1 million refugees are currently housed in camps in Bangladesh, totally dependent on aid. Many of them are struggling to cope with traumatic experiences as they fled their homes in Myanmar. Whilst the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed an understanding to repatriate the refugees, how, and even if this will be possible in practice remains to be seen.

With elections planned across many Asian countries in 2018, there is a huge risk of government policies being politicised in a way that favours those already in a position of power and privilege, to the detriment of minorities. When political power is not used impartially and policies are not implemented fairly, the most vulnerable people are marginalised. We need to ask God to raise up servant-hearted leaders who represent all those in their constituencies impartially.


Having just returned from a visit to South Sudan, I was able to witness how desperate the situation is in that troubled country. And, sadly, this is not a unique situation, as conflict and climate change continue to cause great need in protracted crises all over our world. Yet we know Jesus goes before us. In 2018 – our 50th year – we at Tearfund again commit to following him where the need truly is greatest, responding to needs on the ground and advocating for justice. We are hugely grateful for your prayers and for all your faithfulness in supporting our work, and we know that our God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Nigel Harris, Tearfund CEO

Banner image: Andrew Philip/Tearfund

Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.