Rebecca Hills | Palladium - Nov 27 2020
A Year in the Life of a Crisis Response Team: "HSOT" Releases Annual Report

The UK Humanitarian and Stabilisation Operations Team (HSOT) has published their third Annual Report, telling the story of the team’s work over the past 12 months – a period of significant challenge and change.

HSOT provides the UK Government with the people and expertise required to respond to disasters, crises, and complex emergencies around the world. With over 70 dedicated staff in London, and up to 250 advisers deployed globally at any one time, the team ensures that the UK Government is ready and able to respond whenever and wherever there is a crisis.

Over the past year, this has included the delivery of relief items to Albania in the wake of the November 2019 earthquake, and a rapid response to the Beirut port explosion in Lebanon in August 2020.

“Last year, HSOT worked across 86 countries and responded to 15 major crises,” explains David Northfield, HSOT Director. “This is a huge achievement for the team and we are proud of the support we provided to the UK Government, the global humanitarian system and to crisis-affected populations around the world.”

Resilience in a Global Pandemic

The onset of COVID-19 at the start of 2020 required HSOT to quickly rethink its priorities, developing a business continuity plan and tightening their coordination between the program team and clients. The team also helped to address the impact of the pandemic in countries with limited coping capacity and capabilities.

According to former HSOT Director Oliver Hall, flexibility has been key as HSOT advisors adapted to these challenges. “The report provides a compelling picture of how the team has delivered significant impact against the UK’s humanitarian and stabilisation priorities, as well as how we have flexed in line with emerging needs, risks and opportunities,” he says. “We’ve built on lessons learned in previous years.”

The team has provided reporting and information management services, as well as humanitarian expertise, including providing for health and water, sanitation and hygiene needs. They also advised the COVID-19 Task Force and the Gender Equality and Violence Against Women and Girls team on the gender-specific impacts of COVID-19 in humanitarian settings.

Throughout these efforts, the team has continued to innovate to improve monitoring systems and the environmental sustainability of their supply chains during each response.

“Humanitarian Needs are Growing”

Looking ahead to 2021, Northfield is confident in the team’s ability to continue to support the UK Government, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

“As we begin a new year, we recognise that global humanitarian needs are growing, with millions of people becoming more vulnerable to conflict and climate related disasters, leading to increased population displacement and creating new drivers of instability and insecurity,” he says.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be felt in 2021, with the human and financial costs still being counted, increasing the pressure on already weakened health systems and vulnerable economies. HSOT are responding by expanding our pool of technical experts, developing new capabilities, and working with the wider Palladium network to build deeper partnerships in crisis affected countries. We stand ready to support the UK Government and the global humanitarian community as it rises to meet this unprecedented challenge.”

Download the HSOT Annual Report for a complete picture of the over 350 projects in 86 countries delivered by HSOT this year.