Global Community Must ‘Overhaul’ Approach To Humanitarian Assistance In Africa

Project Syndicate: Empowering Africa’s Humanitarians
Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, regional director for Africa for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

“The scale of human suffering currently engulfing drought-stricken Somalia is almost indescribable. … [U]nless the international community overhauls its approach to delivering aid in Africa, the cycle of suffering will continue. … The effects of hunger on physical and mental health can be irreversible, and often keep people locked in a lifetime of poverty. We must alter this trajectory, before the next crisis strikes … For starters, the aid community must be smarter about how it solicits and allocates resources like food and funding. … Moreover, and perhaps most important, international aid organizations must rethink how and with whom they work. More emphasis needs to be placed on building lasting solutions, and that means working more closely with local partners on the ground. … Changing the global humanitarian paradigm will not be easy; change on this scale never is. But the alternative — an endless cycle of hunger, disease, and needless death — is unacceptable. Africa’s suffering has left many speechless. That is why our actions must speak louder than our words” (8/3).