World Food Program USA & Partners Release New Report: “A World at Risk: Humanitarian Response at a Crossroads”
April 21, 2016
This post originally appeared on World Food Program USA’s website.
Katherine Frank, Policy Associate, World Food Program USA
On Saturday, the strongest earthquake to strike Ecuador in decades left parts of the South American country in ruin with at least 350 dead and thousands more injured. Amid enduring conflict in many parts of the world, the humanitarian system must adjust to respond effectively to this myriad of challenges.
As a first responder when disaster strikes, WFP extends a helping hand to any country that needs it. In the aftermath of this weekend’s devastating earthquake, the World Food Programme (WFP) is coordinating with the government of Ecuador and mounting an emergency response to assist the most vulnerable affected.
Unfortunately, natural disasters like the earthquake in Ecuador are bound to happen. They are a big reason why WFP exists. But in recent years, this job has become more difficult as conflict-driven crises continue to explode and persist for years on end while the frequency of hurricanes and droughts increases largely due to climate change.
As a result, humanitarian needs are growing by the year. Fortunately, people from different walks of life are taking notice — including Bono, frontman of the rock band U2 and founder of the advocacy organization ONE. Last Tuesday, the singer testified on Capitol Hill to stress the critical importance of humanitarian assistance as both a stabilizing force in conflict-ridden regions and as a tool to prevent violence from erupting in unstable or impoverished countries.
On the same day, World Food Program USA and seven other organizations released a report — “A World at Risk: Humanitarian Response at a Crossroads” — on many of the challenges that Bono enumerated during the hearing.
The report lays out solutions that donor countries, host nations, and aid organizations must take to address a scale of human suffering not seen since World War II. These include:
- Finding ways to secure flexible and predictable funding for both emergency response and prevention;
- Improving the link between humanitarian and longer-term development efforts;
- Boosting the role of the private sector;
- Increasing local involvement in aid operations;
- Providing better support for refugee-hosting nations; and
- Increasing accountability and transparency among aid organizations.
If the international system does not adapt, more and more people who need assistance will not be reached. Whether a community is rebuilding after a devastating earthquake or hurricane, or a family’s livelihood has been destroyed due to conflict, help must be provided in an effective, coordinated manner.
After all, important issues of public interest are at stake. Conflict, natural disasters, and public health emergencies do not respect national borders. Political leaders, policy makers and the public have a unique opportunity to come together to support our fellow men, women, and children affected by crisis.
As Bono stated in his testimony, “In 2016, aid is not charity, it’s national security.”