Invest in aid, secure the future: Canadian leadership in a deeply insecure world #IDW2024

Invest in aid, secure the future: Canadian leadership in a deeply insecure world #IDW2024

The world we have taken for granted for decades is being disrupted. And not in small ways. The basic pillars of democracy are being undermined, humanitarian needs are on the rise, hard-won rights are under attack, and we are witnessing the reversal of decades of progress on development, especially for the world’s most vulnerable.

These challenges pose direct threats to Canada and Canadian interests, by increasing global insecurity and stifling global prosperity.


Canada’s Legacy of Global Leadership

At the last IDW, Cooperation Canada and its members took to Parliament Hill to urge Canada to strengthen its global leadership ahead of the 2024 budget. They met with over 50 MPs, senators and political staff from the Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party, Green Party, New Democratic Party and Liberal Party.

Celebrate IDW 2024 with Cooperation Canada

Celebrate IDW 2024 with Cooperation Canada

Each year, as part of International Development Week (IDW), Canadians are invited to participate in activities and celebrate their contribution to eradicating poverty and building a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world. This year, IDW2024 will take place from February 4 to 10. Cooperation Canada will host and participate in a series of special events, share new resources and celebrate the excellence and impact of Canadian international cooperation around the world.

Hill Day 

At a time when we are facing multiple global crises and Canada is more than ever confronted with global insecurity, international assistance is a strategic and impactful investment in a fairer, safer and more sustainable world. That’s why, on February 6, Cooperation Canada and its members will spend a day on Parliament Hill, talking with parliamentariansabout the life-changing, life saving and strategic impact of Canadian aid. Cooperation Canada’s Hill Day is a members-only event. A Parliamentary Reception in partnership with Bigger than our Borders, CanWaCH, ONE and Results will follow. 

Film Screening 

Join the ARC Hub, a program hosted by Cooperation Canada and funded by Global Affairs Canada, on February 5th, 2024, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET for a screening of “Zo Reken”, a film exploring humanitarian aid in Haiti, neocolonialism, and the unmet promises of international cooperation. The screening will be followed by an insightful Q&A session, exploring the intersections between International Development Week (IDW) and anti-racism efforts within the sector, especially during Black History Month. Register here. 

Awards Ceremony 

On February 7, 2024, from 4 to 5 pm ET, Cooperation Canada will recognize excellence in international cooperation at the annual Cooperation Canada Awards. At the ceremony, we will present the Karen Takacs Award, and the Innovation & Impact Awards, in collaboration with World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Lewis Perinbam Award Trustees. Join us and celebrate our esteemed colleagues in the international cooperation sector.


Appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade

On February 9, our CEO, Kate Higgins, and Policy Lead, Carelle Mang-Benza, will appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade to discuss our perspectives on Canada’s engagement and interests in Africa.


There’s a lot going on during IDW2024, and we’d like to provide you with a list of events organized by our programs and members to help you get involved, advocate and celebrate. Visit our Events Calendar to learn more. See you soon for IDW! 

Women Peacebuilders: an Investment Canada Cannot Afford to Overlook

Women Peacebuilders: an Investment Canada Cannot Afford to Overlook

This story is part of Cooperation Canada’s Triple Nexus Spotlight Series   


Investing in women peacebuilders is not just a moral and effective thing to do, it’s a good financial investment we cannot afford to overlook. The returns are vital and invaluable for all of us and for the planet. 

A few years ago, Pélagie sought legal support and counselling from Héritiers de la Justice, a grassroots human rights organization in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This conflict-ridden region is one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a woman. 

Today, Pélagie is a human rights trainer and chair of the local grassroots network in her community. Through this network, which helps facilitate Héritiers de la Justice’s programs, she educates women and girls on how to advocate for themselves, including their rights to land and property inheritance, and organizes meetings on peacebuilding and reconciliation with community members and local authorities. 

Héritiers de la Justice is a partner in the KAIROS Women of Courage: Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Program, which is funded by Global Affairs Canada and Canadian donors. The program is driven by women-led grassroots organizations that are well-trusted in their communities. They are highly attuned to the support needed in regions that are rapidly changing due to the climate crisis, conflict and growing income and food insecurities. 

Pélagie’s journey is unique but is also like thousands of other women who are impacted by war and conflict, and who empower themselves through programs such as this one to become effective peacebuilders in countries such as the DRC, Colombia, South Sudan, and the West Bank. 

In these contexts of protracted conflict, gender violence and social and economic insecurity, humanitarianism, peacebuilding, and development (HDP) are all needed, revealing the importance of triple nexus approaches where these dimensions are considered in unison. This is the daily reality faced by local women peacebuilders like Pelagie and organizations like Héritiers de le Justice and one they must address when they respond to the needs of the women and communities that they accompany. 


Triple Nexus: Perspectives from Women Peacebuilders 

I had the opportunity to meet with Pélagie during a recent exchange in Nairobi, Kenya, between KAIROS WPS partners from the DRC and South Sudan. A highlight of the exchange was hearing about Héritiers de la Justice’s economic empowerment projects for women peacebuilders. 

Pélagie outlined the details of an income-generating program that is inherently collective and feminist. Give a survivor and local peacebuilder one piglet and provide training on how to look after it, and she will breed five pigs, give four to other members of the grassroots network and keep one for sale or future breeding, thus expanding and sustaining the program. The resulting economic and food security will increase her individual capacity to participate in peacebuilding and defend human rights, while increasing the grassroots network’s capacity. She will also name her piglet something meaningful and inspiring like “Rhuciseze,” translated as “let’s walk courageously.” 

South Sudanese exchange participants connected immediately to this example. 

“I will carry this idea back home,” said one participant. “In South Sudan, we have been told by grassroots women and survivors of the conflict that they are committed to reconciliation, and that they want to build peace, but they cannot participate effectively and sustainably if they have nothing to eat or feed their families.” 

At KAIROS, we have heard the same message from WPS partners in Colombia and Palestine: humanitarian and human-rights-centered peacebuilding requires economic empowerment and food security. Here again, we hear a call from local partners for a Triple Nexus approach. 


Transforming Triple Nexus Ambitions into Funding Streams 

Thanks to Canada’s financial support – guided by its innovative Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) – we have witnessed a significant rise in the number of women who are actively strengthening laws, policies, and structures to recognize and protect their rights.  

Canada’s FIAP is a proven sound policy in its prioritisation of women and girls. And while it displays a concrete understanding of the interconnectivity between humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding work, and the critical role and agency of women in these programs, it does not utilize triple nexus language or recognize this rapidly emerging approach. Even less is its commitment to developing funding streams anchored in this approach, allowing organizations to mobilize financial resources with agility across HDP. For example, human rights and economic empowerment remain siloed funding streams with strict limitations on how moneys can be disbursed.  

Last spring, despite calls from civil society to increase funding, Canada reduced its overseas development assistance (ODA). Today, Canada’s percentage allocation of gross national income is less than half that of the international standard of 0.7 percent. As a first priority, Canada must increase its ODA to reach the international standard by 2030 and ensure that these resources are directed to grassroots women’s organizations to ensure alignment with FIAP.  

Reaching the international standard should be a baseline commitment that responds to increased ground level pressures where local partners are facing rising income inequality, and economic and food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic, increased conflict, and the impacts of climate change. 

In a financial climate where civil society organisations are receiving fewer dollars from the Government of Canada, and being asked by the communities they serve to ‘do more with less,’ a second priority should be allowing for greater flexibility in resource mobilization across the HDP spectrum and work around climate change.  

Investing in women peacebuilders who engage in both humanitarian and development activities is not just a moral, human rights-based, equitable and effective thing to do, it is a sound financial investment, and one that Canada cannot afford to overlook. In today’s world, the returns are vital and invaluable for all of us and for the planet – equitable and sustainable peace with economic and climate justice. 


This piece is based in part on a previous publication in The Hill Times, and authored by Rachel Warden, Partnerships Manager at KAIROS Canada. 

Community Conflict Management in Southern Somalia

Community Conflict Management in Southern Somalia

This story is part of Cooperation Canada’s Triple Nexus Spotlight Series  


In 2020 Development and Peace – Caritas Canada, in partnership with Trócaire, initiated a three-year project to support vulnerable communities, particularly women, in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and host communities. The project, titled ‘Improving Food Security for Vulnerable IDP and Host Communities,’ aimed to establish sustainable food systems through agroecology. It focused on empowering women by equipping them with farm input, including access to land, and promoting resilient alternative livelihood opportunities, as well as community-based natural resource management. Over 2,118 (1,066 females and 1,052 males) from Luuq District in Gedo Region of Southern Somalia were reached through the intervention. 

Khadijo Hassan Duur Host Community

Project beneficiary harvesting on a farm provided to her to farm. Photo: CeRID

Fadhumo a 32-year-old mother of eight children, was provided with agricultural training based on sustainable farming practices, seeds, farming tools and a piece of land to grow crops. On average, Fadumo earned an income of USD 300 after every harvest that allowed her to pay USD 16 per month in school fees for her four sons who attend a local madrasa, and look after 14 members of her extended family. She saved enough money to access a loan and opened a shop. The saving groups also improved women’s confidence, engagement in decision making, and the building of a social network that they can rely upon 

Somalia, a fragile nation, has endured prolonged conflicts, climatic challenges like droughts and floods, food insecurity, inter-clan conflicts, and limited access to essential services. By mid-2023, over 1.4 million Somalis had been internally displaced due to these factors, with more than 8.25 million people urgently needing humanitarian aid. Furthermore, over 3.7 million people in Somalia are currently experiencing high acute food insecurity.

A-three-day old group of the newly IDP at the Kahare camp; they had hopes of receiving humanitarian assistance. Photo: Trócaire

A-three-day old group of the newly IDP at the Kahare camp; they had hopes of receiving humanitarian assistance. Photo: Trócaire

This number is expected to rise to 4.3 million people between October and December 2023, including 1.5 million malnourished children, with 330,630 of them being severely malnourished from August 2023 to July. Insecurity and inter-clan clashes disrupt peace, economic development, access to basic services, and psychosocial well-being. This disproportionately affects women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and minority groups. The lack of livelihood resources has compromised household food consumption, compelling these populations to relocate from their homes to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps over 20 km away, seeking basic needs and services.  

“The loud sounds of gunfire were deeply traumatic; some of our neighbours lost family members. Our land was taken away. We were overwhelmed by fear and left with no means of survival. So, we gathered whatever we could and left our home of over 10 years to Dollow. After a twelve-day journey on a donkey cart, non-stop, we arrived safely. Upon our arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the camp leaders, who provided us with shelter,” recounted Hawa.  

Hawa and her family are among the many people who had to relocate to Gedo in search of a better and more secure life after their livelihoods were disrupted by an inter-group conflict. In this context, the triple nexus approach is crucial to tackling systemic inequalities. This approach not only connects short-term relief to lasting social progress but also fosters peaceful environments, enabling the full realization of human rights. 

A community member from Boyle community participating in the DRR mapping exercise in Luuq District. Photo: CeRID

A community member from Boyle community participating in the DRR mapping exercise in Luuq District. Photo: CeRID

Trócaire uses a conflict-sensitive approach that engages with communities for feedback and information sharing around local interventions. Its programmes are integrated not only from a thematic point of view, but also jointly targets both host communities and IDPs to promote social cohesion. Trócaire works alongside communities to establish committees that play critical roles in conflict resolution. For instance, within the resilience programme, farmers established committees to aid in managing the farm and resolving farm conflicts. Collectively, they’ve set farm rules and plans, for example, through the establishment of watering schedules for each group as well as penalties for those who don’t respect these guidelines. This has promoted clear expectations for each farmer, equitable sharing of resources, and smooth running of the shared farm. In parallel, Water Management Committees (WMC), Community Education Committees (CEC), and Village Health Committees (VHCs) have played an active role in addressing resource-based conflicts. For example, locally led and formed WMC oversees the management of scarce water resources by ensuring local water systems are functional and promoting sustainable and fair access to water. These committees have coexisted and supported each other, where the WMC’s management of water resources has been supported by the CEC’s efforts to engage with both local and IDP communities to raise funds for school development.  

Trócaire has supported the formation of other community-based committees (named, ‘community peace champions’), including Natural Resource Management and Disaster Risk Reduction committees. These work on promoting peaceful coexistence among their communities, disaster risk reduction and natural resource management to protect the environment, sustainable exploitation of resources and reduction of climate related shocks and conflict. The committee members are comprised of people from different socioeconomic strata of the community who have received training. In turn, these individuals represent the voices of the community they serve, identifying priorities through consultations that are partly supported by Trócaire.  

These committees collaborate closely with community members, institutions, and local leaders that fully recognize and acknowledge their presence and work in fostering peaceful coexistence. They work within their respective communities and are the first point of contact when conflicts arise. For example, at the negotiation stage between the conflicting parties, a delegation of community elders and local leaders is convened.  

The elders have not only recognized but also commended efforts made to promote peace. Following a sensitization session, community leaders expressed their sentiments, emphasizing the paramount importance of peace.  

 “Without peace, nothing can be achieved, blacksmiths cannot forge metals, people dare not light fire for fear of attack, access to water sources becomes impossible and life itself becomes unstable,” one leader remarked. 

Another leader added, “In times of violence, no son is born, but instead we lose many young and productive men.”  

A peace building session in Gedo; aimed to sensitize community leaders on the importance of fostering peace. Photo: Mohamed, Trócaire

A peace building session in Gedo; aimed to sensitize community leaders on the importance of fostering peace. Photo: Mohamed, Trócaire

Trócaire recognizes that gains made through community-level peacebuilding are only sustainable if these are hinged upon community ownership. As such, collaboration and coordination with local institutions, District Health Boards, IDP leaders, local authorities, and government officials are central to the design of Trócaire’s action and programmes. These collaborations not only ensure conflict management in communities, but also provide a conducive environment for the implementation of the Humanitarian Development Plan (HDP) and ensure communities, both host and IDPs, can enjoy a broad range of rights. 

This piece was co-written by Maurine Akinyi, Programme Support Officer, Trócaire Somalia and Dominique Godbout, Humanitarian Program Officer, Development and Peace-Caritas Canada.

The Importance of Social Cohesion in Fragile Contexts: Lessons from an Interfaith Network in Syria

The Importance of Social Cohesion in Fragile Contexts: Lessons from an Interfaith Network in Syria

This story is part of Cooperation Canada’s Triple Nexus Spotlight Series. It was initially posted on October 30, 2014 ( 


In any situation of crisis or conflict, the provision of humanitarian assistance aims to address basic needs related to the subsistence of those most deeply impacted. Responding to needs related to food security, water, sanitation, hygiene, and shelter involves technical considerations requiring immediate attention. However, the provision of humanitarian assistance also provides an opportunity to engage affected communities in less obvious, but equally critical, strategic work aimed at the preservation and building of social cohesion. These represent strategic situations wherein the triple nexus approach can be implemented, bringing together humanitarian, development, and peace programming.  

Through grassroots initiatives that foster positive relationships within communities threatened by the divisive factors of sectarianism, solidarity and trust can be achieved and sustained in the midst of open conflict. This conviction lies at the center of the philosophy of Mennonite Central Committee partner, the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD) as it approaches its work in providing humanitarian assistance with a peace lens to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria. 

Although the Syrian crisis has spared few as it has moved from village to village, certain areas have remained relative safe havens for those forced to flee their homes as the result of intense and often indiscriminate violence. The Qalamoun region, straddling the highway from Damascus to Homs in central Syria, is one such area. The diverse composition of the region provides a distinctive context to observe the tactical practice of distributing humanitarian assistance in a multi-faith environment where villages are often segregated by faith groups.  

While Syrian communities are long known for their hospitality, host community tensions exist in Qalamoun, as they do across Syria, especially when resources are scarce. Despite these challenges, the people of Qalamoun were able to respond to those seeking refuge from the intense violence in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. In addition to welcoming displaced families into their shops, homes, and schools, the people of Qalamoun immediately began organizing efforts to provide food and hygiene items to their new guests. As more IDPs arrived, the need for greater humanitarian support became evident. FDCD, working closely with its contacts in the Qalamoun region, formed a local interfaith network of distributors and coordinators to respond to the crisis. 

The purposeful inclusion of both Christian and Muslim partners in this process proved to advance the peace dimension of the Nexus approach employed by FDCD. Beyond the successful distribution of in-kind assistance to displaced families, this network produced new forms of trust and cooperation between faith groups.  

This was further evident in the community’s response to the Syrian opposition’s attempt at controlling the region, including the town of Sadad, seizing vehicles and limiting local residents’ ability to evacuate the area. Responding to this, FDCD’s interfaith network quickly coordinated an effort to provide transportation. When the presence of anti-government forces in the area caused the movement of non-Muslims to be risky and greatly hindered, the Muslim communities of Qalamoun utilized their own vehicles to facilitate the safe evacuation of members of the Christian community to other villages in the area. In this regard, the deep partnership facilitated through the organization and distribution of humanitarian assistance in Qalamoun proved to be invaluable in the protection of the Christian community during this period of persecution and crisis. 

While the Battle of Qalamoun was undoubtedly destructive, the experience of FDCD shows how an interfaith network made important contributions in mitigating the impacts of armed conflict. As shown above, the strategic benefits of its deliberate approach to humanitarian distribution are clear, supported by an added peace lens centered on interfaith social cohesion.  

A historically diverse community in Qalamoun continues, to this day, to provide an example for how Muslims and Christians can work to navigate the ongoing tensions between host and displaced communities within the context of the ongoing Syrian conflict. As many communities in Syria fall prey to the vicious cycles of hate, exclusion, and persecution, the experience of FDCD attests to the value of localized interfaith approaches to peace and humanitarianism. Although we cannot predict when the Syrian crisis will end, the preservation of new forms of social cohesion resulting from this interfaith network will be crucial in the country’s early recovery and post-conflict development. These continued relationships will become central in preventing the spread of hate and sectarianism, working together to achieve mutual understanding, respect, coexistence and dialogue. 


Lessons learned, from MCC:  

  • With increased attention to a Triple Nexus approach, strategic planning for this is needed in the program design phase.  
    • It is an oversimplification to assume that, for example, a few peacebuilding workshops will achieve this goal. There is a need to think through how to contribute to social cohesion and early recovery/development over the long term and how to incorporate that into planning. 
  • Resources are needed before project implementation to conduct proper conflict analysis/mapping.  
    • There is always a danger of humanitarian aid being used/diverted to align with local/regional political goals 
    • NGOs must be aware of these dynamics as they implement large humanitarian projects. 
  • There is a need for flexible funding by donors.  
    • While institutional donors are encouraging a Triple Nexus approach, most funding is still restricted to certain activities (i.e., food security). With limited or restricted resources, NGOs can have a hard time knowing how to incorporate social cohesion and development programing, especially where there are limited resources for other areas that donors want to prioritize – gender, protection, capacity building, etc.  
  • There is a need for donors to think long term.  
    • Most institutional funding is short term, but it is unrealistic to adopt a Triple Nexus approach with short term funding. Changes in social cohesion or shifts from humanitarian aid to early recovery/development involve long term thinking.  


Lessons learned, from FDCD: 

  • For sustainable peace to be maintained resources should be shared without discrimination and considerations for the host community’s needs should also be prioritized. This case shows that when treated equally, Christians and Muslims recognize each other’s dignity 
  • When local and international organizations come together, such as MCC and FDCD, to implement Triple Nexus within communities facing conflict in Syria, this can support the enabling of harmony, trust building, and reconciliation to its people after years of war and conflict. 


This piece was first published in 2014 in MCC’s quarterly publication, Intersections, and authored by Riad Jarjour, the General Secretary of the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue and president of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), based in Lebanon and Andrew Long-Higgins, a former Intern at FDCD. This piece was updated for Cooperation Canada in 2023 by Garry Mayhew. 

Spotlight on Triple Nexus in Practice – Humanitarian, Development & Peace

Spotlight on Triple Nexus in Practice – Humanitarian, Development & Peace

Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) are increasingly interested in working on the Triple Nexus, or programming across humanitarian-development-peace pillars.

With this in mind, Cooperation Canada has been working on a series of articles on the Triple Nexus, aimed at highlighting what works and what doesn’t in the field initiatives undertaken by its members, as well as some of the potential challenges and opportunities in expanding Triple Nexus programming.

Learn more about the Triple Nexus in practice by reading these stories from the field.