2021: An unprecedented year in review

Jan 07, 2022
In 2021, we continued to prioritize working with communities to help promote and protect the well-being of vulnerable children and their families.
World Vision cared for people affected by various disasters and crises, including devastating earthquakes, climate-change induced flooding, brutal conflict and dire food shortages. In 2021, we responded to 72 disasters in 52 countries, and helped more than 30.1 million people with life-saving relief aid.
Alongside the increased need for humanitarian aid, we saw food insecurity and poverty escalate worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our ongoing COVID-19 response in over 70 countries is focused on children who are most at risk, including those in conflict zones, urban slums and refugee settlements. Our aim was to reach at least 72 million people. By late October 2021, we had proudly surpassed that goal and our work continues.
Our community development efforts helped families coping with COVID-19 in other tangible ways. Hundreds of thousands of people now have access to fresh water near their homes. More than 12,000 children are attending after-school literacy classes.
Here at home, we also engaged Canadians in addressing how we can tackle the worst forms of child labour; more than 15,000 people signed our petition to the Government of Canada to enact supply chain legislation requiring companies to report and take action on Child labour and human rights abuses.
Learn more about our work and impact worldwide in 2021 and join us this year in partnering with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by helping them tackle the causes of poverty and injustice. Help make real and lasting change for vulnerable children everywhere.
  1. Children bear the brunt of the pandemic
  2. Celebrating ENRICH’s six years of life-saving change
  3. No time to say goodbye
  4. Feeding South Sudan by empowering women farmers
  5. Dedicated donors undeterred by COVID-19
  6. Caring for Ethiopian conflict victims
  7. Standing with quake survivors in Haiti
  8. Staying the course in Afghanistan
  9. Hunger on the rise worldwide due to pandemic
  10. The shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls
  11. Father-daughter duo run marathon to support girls’ education
  12. Indian girls lead the fight to stop child marriage in their community
  13. Climate change is a children’s crisis
  14. Winning over climate change—one seedling at a time
  15. Canadians demand greater transparency in global supply chains
  16. World Vision named among GTA’s Top 100 Employers

A little girl in a blue dress embraces an orange book.
Nursarin, 6, attends a Bridge Centre, an education program run by World Vision India for children who are not in school. Photo: Jim Wungramyao Kasom

Children bear the brunt of the pandemic
The COVID-19 crisis has affected everyone, but for some children, the impact will be lifelong.
World Vision’s series of research reports, COVID-19 Aftershocks, warned about the devastating impact of the pandemic on children that could potentially reverse 20 years of progress in global efforts against poverty, hunger, disease and gender equality. 
  • 30 million additional children at risk of disease and death from secondary impacts.
  • 85 million children at risk of violence, particularly girls, including 13 million additional child marriages (4 million within the next few years).
  • 19 million people, including 10 million children, threatened by famine due to conflict, economic impacts and climate-related natural disasters.
  • 8 million children forced into child labour in Asia alone as a result of lost livelihoods, poverty. 
  • 1 million additional girls across sub-Saharan Africa may never return to school. 
Throughout 2021, World Vision advocated for children, calling on governments worldwide to scale-up COVID-19 prevention and response measures, and prioritize children’s needs. We also re-doubled our efforts to ensure the health, safety and education of girls and boys living in the world's most dangerous places, including expanded support for an equitable vaccine roll-out.

A barefoot woman wearing a kerchief waters crops, with her young daughter by her side.
Zin’s remarkable story as an expectant mother living in a remote community in Myanmar is featured in Pressure Baby, World Vision’s full-length documentary released in 2021. Photo: Paul Bettings

Celebrating six years of life-enriching change through ENRICH
Zin and her daughter are among more than 2.4 million girls and boys, women and men living in poor communities in Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Myanmar who have benefitted over the past six years from ENRICH (Enhancing Nutrition Services to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Africa and Asia).
Launched in 2016, ENRICH set out to help reduce child and maternal mortality in the four countries by improving gender-sensitive nutrition and health services for mothers and children. For instance, ENRICH’s 1,000 Day Journey program promotes good nutrition and health practices in the 1,000 days between a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday, which sets the foundation for all the days that follow. ENRICH has also trained 27, 700 farmers how to produce and use biofortified crops, rich in micronutrients.
Funded by Global Affairs Canada and led by World Vision, ENRICH successfully concluded late in 2021.

A girl holds an open, lined notebook, sitting outside her home.
After losing her father to COVID-19, Ashmitha, 9, says she wants to study to become a doctor so she can save lives. Photo: Luke Aslaksan

No time to say goodbye
Nine-year-old Ashmitha lost her father abruptly to COVID-19 this year. Murugan, 40, died overnight in a Bangalore hospital due to a lack of oxygen during the six-week spring surge of cases that claimed more than 180,000 lives across India. Ashmitha, her mother and older sister had no chance to say goodbye.
By the end of 2021, at least 480,000 people had died in India from COVID-19. World Vision has supported Ashmitha’s family and 4.8 million Indians during the crisis. World Vision provided COVID-19-prevention information and emergency food supplies, as well as distributed personal protective equipment to hospitals and health centres.

Two women smiling while holding vegetables.
Aryemo Sunday Ocaya (left) grew up in a refugee camp in Uganda after her family fled war in South Sudan when she was age two. Today, she is an accomplished agronomist working back home with World Vision’s FEED program, teaching fellow Sudanese women farmers to produce nutritious crops. Photo: Mark Nonkes

FEEDING South Sudan by empowering women farmers
Aryemo Sunday Ocaya believes that change can happen for women farmers in one of the world’s poorest, drought-ravaged, war-torn countries. She’s living proof.
Aryemo grew up in a refugee camp in Uganda after her family fled war in South Sudan when she was age two. Today, she is an accomplished agronomist working back home with World Vision’s FEED (Fortifying Equality and Economic Diversification) project, teaching fellow Sudanese women farmers to produce nutritious crops.
Women do an estimated 80 per cent of the agricultural work in South Sudan. “In my country, everything depends on women: feeding the family, taking care of the children, going to the garden. Every productive work is done by women,” says Aryemo. “I always tell people that if we educate women, there will be no hunger in the whole world.”
FEED seeks to support and train farmers while reducing inequalities between women and men, particularly when it comes to accessing and controlling food security resources. Funded by the Canadian government and now in its second year, FEED II is implemented in seven states in South Sudan by World Vision, in partnership with CARE and War Child. The project plans to reach 280,000 people over a five-year period.
In 2021, Aryemo delightedly affirms that seeds of change are indeed sprouting. “We used to import vegetables [in this community], and it was very expensive. But now, the women’s group formed by FEED is the main supplier of vegetables in the capital city of Juba,” she says.

A little girl in a green dress smiles for the camera.
Jannatul, 5, can enjoy activities at a World Vision children’s centre in the refugee camp where she lives in southern Bangladesh, thanks to the generous support of Canadian donors. Photo: Jon Warren

Dedicated donors undeterred by COVID-19
We are grateful for the thousands of World Vision sponsors and donors who faithfully supported vulnerable children and their families worldwide throughout the pandemic, even as Canadians grappled with extreme weather, forest fires and floods that devastated communities here at home.

A long line of women, several holding infants, sit against a wall at a food distribution centre.
In Mekelle, Ethiopia, families displaced by conflict receive food supplies. Photo: Kebede Gizachew

Caring for Ethiopian conflict victims
Throughout 2021, World Vision has supported 1.5 million people who were driven from their homes after fighting erupted in northern Ethiopia in November 2020. The conflict has displaced more than 2.4 million vulnerable children and their families.
“Prior to the conflict, hundreds of thousands of people were already reliant on food aid. This was exacerbated when desert locusts ravaged parts of the country, further depleting food stocks for many vulnerable families,” says Karmen Till, senior director of operations for World Vision in Ethiopia. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, erratic rainfall, and localized flooding and drought, the recent wave of insecurity and displacement in Tigray has deepened the suffering of too many vulnerable people.”
Our teams in Ethiopia are co-ordinating with other humanitarian organizations to provide displaced families with food, emergency shelter and non-food items, as well as access to clean water, and sanitation and hygiene facilities. We’re also helping to rehabilitate damaged schools, so children have safe places to learn.

An image of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.
Survivors and volunteers dig through the debris of homes that were destroyed when a magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck western Haiti. Photo: Guy Vital-Herne

Standing with quake survivors in Haiti
On Aug. 14, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck near Saint-Louis–du-Sud, Haiti, crumbling houses, schools and hospitals. More than 2,200 people died and over 12,500 more were injured. World Vision, which has worked in Haiti for more than 30 years, rushed tents, food supplies and hygiene kits to the quake-hit zones, reaching more than 24,000 people in the first month of our response.

Mothers and children sitting on wooden benches outside a makeshift clinic built from shipping containers.
Afghan children and women seated outside a World Vision–sponsored mobile health clinic in Afghanistan, where an estimated 22.8 million people—55 per cent of the population—are facing acute levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Photo: World Vision

Staying the course in Afghanistan
Tragic images of desperate Afghani families rocked the world as the city of Kabul fell in mid-August. Since 2001, World Vision Afghanistan has served in remote areas of Afghanistan where needs are often greatest, and our life-saving work here continues. In November, we rushed emergency assistance to more than 80,400 people. We operate 14 mobile health clinics, providing service to 9,500 people, half of whom are children under the age of five, many suffering from malnutrition.
As winter arrived, vulnerable children and families in Afghanistan remained in crisis: An estimated 8.7 million Afghan children and adults will be on the brink of starvation by March 2022. Conflict, poverty and drought are fueling a widespread hunger emergency, mass child starvation and near-collapse of the health system. Overall, an estimated 22.8 million people — 55 per cent of the population—are facing acute levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.

A nurse measures the arm of a malnourished infant while he is cradled in his mother’s lap.
In South Darfur, Sudan, World Vision has provided nutritional care for nearly 7,000 children under the age of five and 1,800 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers suffering from acute malnutrition. Photo: Sojoud Elgarrai

Hunger on the rise worldwide due to pandemic
Published in September, our ground-breaking  Price Shocks report revealed that rapidly rising global food prices are leading to increased levels of hunger and malnutrition. This situation could have deadly consequences for millions of people living in the most vulnerable countries.
The World Vision report found since the pandemic was declared, soaring food prices combined with lockdown-induced job losses and disrupted nutrition services have fuelled a global hunger crisis. For instance, between February 2020 and July 2021, food prices rose 4.8 per cent in Canada, while prices increased in Myanmar by 54 per cent, in Lebanon by 48 per cent and in Syria by 29 per cent--affecting mainly people who could least afford it.

A group of women wearing red caps perform in front of a crowd.
“Healing in Harmony” participants perform at a community concert that promotes recognition and reduces stigma about gender-based violence. “Hearing those powerful songs of healing and reconciliation was incredibly impactful,” says Michael Messenger, President and CEO of World Vision Canada, (pictured in background) who visited the DRC in October. Photo: Brett Tarver

The shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls
The global pandemic has led to an alarming increase in all types of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, according to UN Women. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), sexual violence as a weapon of war is also tragically widespread.
During his fall visit to the DRC, Michael Messenger met women survivors who are recovering their dignity and strength with the help of Healing in Harmony, a music therapy program implemented by World Vision partner organization, Make Music Matter.

Both smiling, a young woman and a man hold up gold medals printed with London Marathon 2021.
Michael Messenger and his daughter, Annie, at the finish line of the London Marathon. Photo: World Vision

Father-daughter duo run marathon to support girls’ education
We’re proud of Michael Messenger, President and CEO of World Vision Canada, and his daughter, Annie, who ran the 42-kilometre (26.2 miles) London Marathon, to raise funds for World Vision’s Rise Up Daughters of India, a program focused on removing barriers to girls’ education. A generous World Vision donor matched donations up to $30,000, bringing their total to $93,540 raised!

Five young Indian women stand in a line on a road, wearing sombre expressions.
Members of the Hena Girls Power Group in Basanti, India, are speaking out about child marriage, trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence in their community. Photo: World Vision

Indian girls lead the fight to stop child marriage in their community
Each year, more 12 million girls are married before they turn age 18. The pandemic has exacerbated this global crisis, sparking increased levels of poverty and hunger, and decreased access to education, according to new World Vision research. Tragically, 2020 saw the largest increase in child marriage rates in 25 years.
In Basanti, India, 18-year-old Mousumi decided something had to be done. So together with other young women in her community here in West Bengal state, she formed the Hena Girls Power Group. Their goal is to stop child abuse and child marriage—COVID-19 or not.
Joining forces with World Vision staff, community leaders and authorities, the Hena Girls provide intelligence, reconnaissance and communication. They keep their ears open for conversations in the community. And when they hear adults talking at night about plans for their sisters, they act.
“Our first source of information is the girls power group,” says Debu Patra, a World Vision technical specialist. “They are able to identify potential cases of child abuse and child marriage, and are aware of the vulnerable families and girls at imminent risk of trafficking in the village.”
World Vision guides and supports such groups, training youth and parents about children’s rights, such as the legal age for marriage. Field teams also raise awareness and share information with participants about the government’s child protection hotline.
During the first two months of the COVID-19 lockdown in India, World Vision’s anti-child trafficking project team in West Bengal stopped 13 cases of child marriage.
Mousumi’s work with the Hena Girls is just the beginning. Although COVID-19 has kept her out of school this year, Mousumi’s recent activism has fueled her dreams of becoming a lawyer. “I want to become an advocate and help people who are in trouble,” she says. “For my village, my dream is that child marriage, child labour and trafficking will stop.’’

Two African girls and two boys walk in a line through a field of tall, dried-out grass.

Climate change is a children’s crisis

That’s the message World Vision delegates delivered on behalf of children worldwide to leaders at the UN climate change conference (COP26) in Glasgow with the launch of its insightful report, Climate Change, Hunger and Children’s Futures.
The report explores the devastating impact of climate change on food security, especially for children. Currently, 41 million people in 43 countries are facing hunger crises. By 2030, World projects that 300 million people will be facing starvation.
At COP26, World Vision called on leaders to act now to mitigate climate change, and to engage children and young people meaningfully in decision making on environmental policies and issues.

An African woman sits on a bench, tending small seedling trees, while her young daughter and son look on.
Pamela and her two children care for seedlings as part of a World Vision-supported community reforestation project. Photo: World Vision

Winning over climate change—one seedling at a time
A widow and mother of five children, Pamela, 44, is leading the fight against climate change in her rural Kenyan community through reforestation. This conservation champion and her dedicated community members are planting trees using a low-cost farmer- managed natural regeneration approach, promoted by World Vision. Over four years, they have successfully transformed acres of bare land, now covered with indigenous trees. It’s just one of our many community environmental protection programs worldwide.

A young girl leans her face close to a sewing machine needle as she stitches denim jeans.
Bithi, 15, has worked in a Bangladeshi garment factory since she was 12. She sews pockets on designer jeans (at least 480 pairs daily), earning about a dollar a day. Photo: World Vision

Canadians demand greater transparency in global supply chains
Through its No Child for Sale campaign, for the past decade World Vision Canada has advocated for the 160 million children forced to do dirty, dangerous and degrading work that harms their development, mental and physical well-being.
More than 150,000 Canadians have signed World Vision’s main petition calling on the Government of Canada to commit to supply chain legislation that requires companies to publicly report and take action on human rights abuses, especially child labour, involved in the production and sale of their goods.
In an important step toward due diligence legislation, on Dec. 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated Canada’s Minister of Labour to, “introduce legislation to eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains and ensure that Canadian businesses operating abroad do not contribute to human rights abuses.”
The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise also announced an upcoming study on the possible use of child labour in Canadian garment companies’ overseas supply chains and will gauge their progress in establishing human rights due diligence related to child rights.

A casually dressed, smiling group of employees (eight women and two men) at the World Vision office.
World Vision Canada ranked highly for its generous benefits, including enhanced compassionate and parental leave and a defined contribution pension plan. Photo: World Vision

World Vision named among GTA’s Top 100 Employers
For the 12th consecutive year, our team was honoured to be recognized as a GTA Top Employer. The Top 100 recognizes employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional workplaces and human resource policies. 
“We’re delighted to receive this recognition on behalf of all our employees who are passionate and purposeful about our mission: serving the world’s most vulnerable children and their communities,” said Michael Messenger, CEO and President of World Vision Canada.