2021, the most complicated year in the history of Manos Unidas

The consequences of the pandemic, especially the deterioration of the living conditions of the communities it serves Manos Unidas and the setback of the progress achieved in different fields: food sovereignty, women's rights or education, have marked these months of work of the NGDO, which, however, has seen the solidarity of its donors grow.

Maria José Atienza-June 15, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
Manos UNidas

Photo: ©Marta Isabel González

More than one and a half million people served directly, 474 new projects in 51 countries with an investment of 33,449,399 euros are the overall figures of a difficult year in which, however, as I pointed out, we have had to face a difficult situation. Clara Pardo, Acting President of Manos UnidasThere has also been happiness". The presentation of the 2021 Annual Report of this Catholic NGOD was also the last act as president of Pardo, who will be succeeded by Cecilia Pilar Gracia.

Marked from beginning to end by the presence of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2021 Manos Unidas has had to reinvent itself and put its creativity to work to be able to continue helping the poorest in a completely hostile environment. Both because of the restrictions, the impossibility of traveling to see the projects and another factor, even more serious: the rejection of the stranger and the exhaustion of solidarity that the months of confinement have left, as Clara Pardo pointed out.

The consequences of the pandemic among the poorest have been terrible and its impact on the economy of these communities as well as on the setback of the progress achieved in education or in the field of women's rights will be very difficult to overcome.

Growing donations to Manos Unidas

However, as Clara Pardo wanted to emphasize, "many people did hear the cry of the poorest". Despite the complications, this 2021 has been, for the outgoing president of Manos Unidas, "a moment of happiness too".

This solidarity has been translated into more than 50 million euros received by Manos Unidas in 2021, which is 20.6 more than in 2020. Of the total, 88.6% went directly to the purposes of Manos Unidas. In addition, 86% came from the private sector: donations from partners and collaborators, inheritances and legacies or religious entities. As for public aid received, it amounted to 6.8 million euros, similar to 2020.

One of the donation channels is that of bequests or inheritances, which grew by 140% with respect to 2020. There have been 154 wills in 47 delegations. One point, Clara Pardo noted with emotion, is that "many of these people did not even appear as members of Manos Unidas. This shows the confidence that many people have in our NGDO".

Setbacks in projects and rights

Among the consequences that Covid has had on the most vulnerable populations in America, Asia and Africa, both Clara Pardo and Mabel Ibáñez, coordinator of the Projects Department of Manos Unidas in Africa, highlighted the "deterioration of the living conditions of the communities we serve and a setback in the progress achieved in different fields".

In this sense, Mabel Ibáñez pointed out that the work of Manos Unidas in 2021 has focused especially on "addressing the consequences of this poverty for the most vulnerable. Everything has slowed down and has affected the development of many projects".

In fact, the impossibility of traveling and getting to know new possible projects has led Manos Unidas to "work with organizations and partners with whom it already worked. Only in the last quarter of the year did Manos Unidas travel to resume projects in Uganda, Paraguay, Senegal, Ecuador, El Salvador and Cameroon".

The pandemic has also increased malnutrition and malnutrition rates, especially in Africa, which has led Manos Unidas to launch food empowerment projects in areas of Nigeria and South Sudan.

Another of the fields most affected by the confinements and others has been that of education. As Ibáñez emphasized, "there are countries that have spent almost two years without classes because of the pandemic. This reality has caused 24 million children to drop out of school and there is an increase in child labor and trafficking.

The increase in violence and human rights violations in this time of pandemic, especially against women, children and those who fought for their rights, has been another of the consequences of the pandemic against which Manos Unidas has been setting up projects in different countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, where the program against violence against domestic workers, many of them girls, carried out in northern India, stands out.
Also, as Mabel Ibáñez pointed out, human rights workers, "key to development in the Amazon, for example," are another group affected by the pandemic, and projects have been launched in several areas of Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Madagascar to help them.

Humanitarian aid and emergencies

As Mabel Ibáñez reminded us, although Manos Unidas is a non-governmental development aid organization, last year it collaborated in 55 emergency projects in Asia (34), Africa (13) and America (8), to which 1,607,331 euros were allocated.

These include projects in areas of permanent conflict such as South Sudan, Burkina Faso and the Tigray zone in Ethiopia, as well as aid provided to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

In total, 270,679 people have been assisted who, for various reasons, had lost practically everything. In addition to this, 7 humanitarian aid projects were carried out to assist 7,686 people.

Manos Unidas wanted to thank this contagion of solidarity, echoing its 2021 campaign, which has made these projects possible in so many parts of the world and help fight poverty and inequality in the world.

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