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If there was one area of near total consensus, it was that the present 'humanitarian system' is unable to cope with the global crises and scale of suffering around the world. Established long-ago and now pressed with unprecedented levels of needs, the system simply isn't fit for purpose anymore. And so aspirations for the WHS were high.
The global humanitarian system is failing at the same time as it has also never been better equipped to respond to emergencies and crises. There are countless aid organizations and hundreds of thousands of experienced and dedicated humanitarian aid workers helping the most vulnerable around the globe.
If we are to achieve a world that has put an end to extreme poverty and preventable maternal and child death, a world where children have quality education and a chance at opportunity, a world that is environmentally and economically sustainable, we will need a new and more comprehensive approach to development and humanitarian response.
Just a few days ago I joined Canada's newly appointed Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino on a trip to Burkina Faso in West Africa. Throughout this visit I was struck by many sights and sounds that will stay with me for a long time -- evidence of how the crisis is affecting lives, how people are coping, and what more needs to be done to avert a crisis from becoming an all-out catastrophe.
Given the number of African famines and droughts I've seen as an aid worker over the last three decades, I can see how people could become apathetic over time, but I don't think it's fair, nor accurate, to dismiss this latest crisis in a "here we go again" kind of way.
For months now, all of us at the Humanitarian Coalition have been paying very close attention to the situation in the Sahel region of West Africa, where drought and food shortages are affecting an ever-growing number of families and communities. Today, more than 18.4 million people are facing severe hunger, including a million children who are at risk of acute malnutrition.
Since appeals first went out for donations to the east African famine, relief agencies have reported that approximately $16 million has come in from Canada. The figure for Britain, however, stands at £45 million in public donations. Why? It is our lack of organizational ability to combine our efforts that fails.
The Humanitarian Coalition, which I believe to be inspired by a similar British organization, is a group of seasoned NGO organizations who think that by working together on issues, they can get more done. But it's what they offer to confused Canadian donors that might well prove their most pivotal contribution.