Mark Lowcock: To cut relief aid needs, address conflict, climate change, disease

By Elkanah Nyauma


Mark Lowcock leaves office today as United Nation’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. But he has message to the world, that the only way to reduce humanitarian aid is to address climate change, conflict, and disease.

Lowcock says he started the job with a hope that the need for relief aid globally was decreasing. But due to unprecedented conflicts and the ever increasing impacts of climate change, and the weight of diseases like Ebola, and now COVID-19 – the number of people needing help is overwhelming.

Speaking to the UN News as he prepared to leave office, Mr. Lowcock made it clear that countries need to work harder to tackle problems affecting people globally, the common problems as he called them.

He added that when he took over the job in 2017 he thought the world would have entered an era of little or no humanitarian aid. “It had increased a lot during the decade of the 2010s, largely because of new conflicts but also because of the effect of climate change,” he added.

Mark Lowcock expressed his disappointment that because the world’s critical problems have not been addressed, many countries are still struggling. There is slow progress in human development, people are not well fed are do not live longer. Also, more children are out of school, while many still die of avoidable diseases, and so on.

Lowcock believes that by tackling these issues, many countries will become sustainable. This eventually will reduce dependency on aid, which is always a huge cost for countries and humanitarians serving them.

Mark Lowcock | humanitarian aid | relief aid
Mark Lowcock (r) meets with a group of Syrian drivers on the Turkish side of the two countries’ common border – Picture | UN OCHA/David Swanson

“The good news is the UN, the NGOs, the Red Cross, continue to do a fantastic job in saving lives and reducing suffering, and I think the humanitarian system has really stepped up to the mark in recent years”, he said. “We reach more than 100 million people a year,” he added.

Mark Lowcock has spent almost 40 years in international development. He believes that much has been done to improve people’s conditions during this period. He reiterates his assurance that if more effort is put to reduce hunger and poverty for example, everyone on the earth will enjoy a more desirable life.

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