Cooperation Canada, CanWaCH and the Humanitarian Coalition applaud the Government of Canada’s early response to avert the looming famine catastrophe

Cooperation Canada, CanWaCH and the Humanitarian Coalition applaud the Government of Canada’s early response to avert the looming famine catastrophe

Today, the Government of Canada announced the allocation of $155 million CAD to support countries at the brink of famine. This decision is critical: right now, 11 people are dying every minute due to hunger and 41 million people are at risk of starvation. By acting now, before famine is declared, the Government is helping to prevent a catastrophe.  

This funding will be urgently disbursed across multilateral and civil society organizations for countries designated as most at risk by the international community. Decades of evidence have shown that the best humanitarian responses are early responses. Today’s decision reflects Canada’s commitments to humanitarian principles and international solidarity.  

Today’s announcement builds on commitments made at the G7 Summit in June, when global leaders pledged $8.5 billion towards famine prevention. The urgency of this funding is key: acting before a famine is declared is a humanitarian imperative. When famine is officially announced, it means that 30% of children are already suffering from malnutrition so acute they will either die or face life-long health consequences. Famine also drives conflict, worsens health crises and gender inequality while obliterating generations of investments in livestock, fisheries, and communities’ self-sufficiency.  

Canada is reacting now; before waiting on UN appeals and media moments – showing resolute action that reflects the values of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. The looming famine crisis is far from over – and women, adolescents and children will continue to be disproportionately affected. We call on Canada to continue to closely monitor the situation and scale up its response in an urgent, predictable, and equitable way, as it has done today.  

Global Affairs Canada CSO Partnership Policy – A Brief Guide and a Call for Engagement

Global Affairs Canada CSO Partnership Policy – A Brief Guide and a Call for Engagement

 

The ambitious objectives outlined in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) can only be achieved in consultation with international and local civil society. Coherent with the Istanbul Principles and related frameworks such as the International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness and the Busan Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, FIAP is strengthened by a Policy on Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance (the CSO Partnership Policy). Constructed in consultation with civil society, this policy outlines and defines how Global Affairs Canada (GAC) will engage with civil society actors on the implementation of the FIAP across nine action areas.

 

Nine action areas include:

  1. Empowering women and girls, promote gender equality, and reach the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized as the most effective means to eradicate poverty
  2. Facilitating a safe and enabling environment for civil society
  3. Protecting human life and dignity
  4. Fostering CSO leadership in innovation
  5. Integrating the role of CSOs as independent actors into international assistance programming
  6. Establishing more predictable, equitable, flexible, and transparent funding mechanisms
  7. Fostering multi-stakeholder approaches to international assistance
  8. Engaging Canadians as global citizens in international assistance
  9. Promoting sustainability, transparency, accountability, and results

Policy objectives – CSO implications

The human rights-based feminist approaches of FIAP require fundamental shifts in the structures, policies, processes, and programs of civil society actors working with GAC. Many of these shifts require institutional prioritization and resources, as we learned from civil society organizations (CSOs) partaking in the Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative.

Integrating considerations that account for gender norms and existing inequalities as well as devising tools and processes that allow for more gender-responsive and gender-transformative programs is a sector-wide challenge that can be achieved through collaboration, predictable and inclusive consultations, and continuous learning among diverse partners. To support these efforts, GAC and Canadian civil society crafted a policy outlining the entry points for strengthened government-civil society collaboration.

The CSO Partnership Policy highlights the responsibility of civil society actors to consult marginalized groups, including women and girls and ensure their perspectives are integrated across all areas of program design, delivery, and evaluation. Specifically, organizations are called to employ human rights-based approaches and institutionalize gender-based analysis in all of their work. CSOs should also collaborate with local/national responders as indicated through the guidance A Feminist Approach: Gender Equality in Humanitarian Action to strengthen the organizational and response capacity of local humanitarian actors as well as their long-term sustainability.

Implementation Plan

The CSO Partnership Policy is operationalized through the Implementation Plan, which lists proposed action for each of the nine action areas outlined above. To ensure progress towards the targets outlined in the Implementation Plan, Global Affairs Canada and Cooperation Canada have convened a Civil Society Policy Action Group (CPAG), which is open to civil society actors across the country. The two co-leads comprise the CPAG Secretariat, which on the GAC side reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for the Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch. CPAG gathers specialists from the sector, with each of the nine action areas co-led by representatives from relevant GAC teams and CSOs, who in consultation with broader coalitions formulate recommendations for policy implementation.

In 2018, CPAG devised a national survey, which informed the prioritization of: Objective 1 (Empower women and girls and promote gender equality); Objective 6 (Establish more predictable, equitable, flexible, and transparent funding mechanisms); and Objective 8 (Engage Canadians as global citizens). The implementation plan for the remaining objectives were approved in 2019, offering a policy tool for CSOs working towards a range of FIAP targets.

During the initial stages of the COVID-19 response, which called for GAC-CSO consultations on urgent matters related to the pandemic and its impact on the sector, CPAG activities were paused. Given the usefulness of tools and commitments outlined in implementation plans for all nine action areas, CPAG is currently calling on CSOs to engage with the group as a platform for improving the effectiveness of GAC-CSO collaboration.

Next Steps

CPAG is re-convening in 2021 to provide an overview of the group mandate and the progress made so far, articulate priority areas for 2021. To support an accountable and a forward-looking approach, CPAG will also be producing snapshot reports on the progress made for all nine action areas.

Canadian civil society organizations are called to engage around the work of CPAG to ensure this forward-looking and ambitious policy for CSO engagement is effectively translated into institutional systems and processes. Stay tuned for information sessions and updates related to this work.

Would you like to join CPAG? Fill out this form to express your interest.

UnyimeAbasi Odong, Policy intern, Research, Policy and Practice