“Conflict, climate change, COVID and other diseases are what contributes to humanitarian suffering. And so you have to address the causes of those problems if you want to see the number of people suffering for as well as providing immediate help to the people to get them through until the causes can be addressed,” explains Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from May 2017 through June 2021. Prior to his appointment in the UN, he served as the permanent secretary for the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development. Mark has spent 35 years leading responses to humanitarian crises across the globe. He was twice awarded medals by Queen Elizabeth II for services to international development and public service, including reaching Knighthood in 2017. Recently, Mark authored a book titled Relief Chief: A Manifesto for Saving Lives in Dire Times. Today, he joins host Tiffany Zehara to talk about how humanitarian crises are handled and how ordinary everyday people can get involved.
The humanitarian crises afflicting the global population today are mostly caused by conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. There are so many wonderful agencies helping to provide resources to those most negatively impacted by these crises, however, due to the sheer quantity of agencies they often are in competition with one another for resources. Most of the issues overlap and so it is important for agencies to determine how they can collaborate in order to effectively tackle these humanitarian crises. No one agency can fix everything on its own. Another issue comes from the fact that these organizations largely treat the symptoms rather than getting to the root cause. An example would be feeding someone who is starving without addressing the reason why they are unable to access or afford food. Situations can only improve if and when the root causes are addressed, yet the bulk of efforts are typically put into short term rescue solutions.
There are many ways to get involved in making an impact on humanitarian crises across the globe. Aside from getting involved with the many pre-existing organizations providing aid, there is also the option to get involved at the government level by talking to your representatives. Tune into today’s episode of Humanitarian Entrepreneur Podcast for a talk with special guest Mark Lowcock about how to save lives in dire times.
“The way this system has been created is that there are lots and lots of agencies, lots of UN agencies, the Red Cross family, 1000s of NGOs, and to some degree, they are both collaborating with each other. But they’re also competing with each other for resources and donors in particular, and to some degree, they have overlapping mandates.” (7:21-7:44 | Mark)
“A good outcome is not that one agency gets all the money, because no one agency can fix the problem. A good outcome is where there’s enough money for everybody to spread in the fair way as possible.” (9:19-9:30 | Mark)
“Conflict, climate change, COVID and other diseases are what contributes to humanitarian suffering. And so you have to address the causes of those problems if you want to see the number of people suffering for as well as providing immediate help to the people to get them through until the causes can be addressed.” (12:13-12:31 | Mark)
“If you just address symptoms and not causes, don’t be surprised if things keep getting worse.” (21:17-21:22 | Mark)
“One of the ways in which people caught up in humanitarian crises are stripped of their humanity is by losing their ability to control and determine things in their own lives. And if you can give people cash that gives them some of that dignity and freedom and humanity back.” (23:40-23:56 | Mark)
“Empathy grows, actually curiously, when our own challenges grow.” (30:07-30:13 | Mark)
Connect with Mark Lowcock:
A Japanese program discussing famine:
To connect with Tiffany to solve problems or affect the kind of change you want: https://calendly.com/humanitarianentrepreneur/discovery-call