The four-day symposium on international humanitarian assistance is off and running.
On Monday, February 22, Arlene Mitchell, Senior Program Officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former UN World Food Program Executive, kicked of the symposium. Mitchell stimulated conversation among the community members and faculty and staff following her presentation with critical observations revolving around topics such competition among aid agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, and not enough cooperation; the distinction between development and humanitarian assistance possibly being arbitrary and harmful to developing countries; the importance of agriculture and women being central to reducing poverty; and that there is a role for anyone who wants to get involved (as long as it does not involve creating another non-governmental organization (there are already too many). More photos. (Photos by Jim Hills)
"It was a good event," said Larry Fuell, Director of the Global Affairs Center. "Arlene Mitchell of the Gates Foundation offered an excellent review of her 40 years of experience of national and international governance and ended with four critical observations that stimulated a lively discussion."
On Tuesday night, attendance was sparse, but the presentation by Heidi Peterson of CARE was good and the questions and answers were informative. Peterson said that half of the financial resources that CARE receives come from national governments or international bodies and that this has an impact on the organization's programming decisions. Another topic was about the tension between what donors want to support (when donations are made for a specific purpose) and what recipients say they need. "CARE regularly asks those they are helping what they need most -- what needs are critical," Fuell said. More photos.
We are on day three of the symposium now and Fuell has noticed that the presentations have a shared theme. "Interestingly, all four of the presentations thus far have emphasized the theme of humanitarian assistance aimed particular at helping women and girls," said Fuell, "this was not prearranged as one student asked me after last night."
Don't miss out on the rest of the week's events!