From the desk of Stefan Epp-Koop, manager of humanitarian programs

Monday, May 01, 2023
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I am, by nature, an optimistic person. But the picture I was seeing was bleak, and the challenges immense.

Stefan Epp-Koop, manager of humanitarian programs

About six months ago, I began a new role as the program manager for Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s humanitarian and nexus programming. As I started this role, my inbox quickly began to reflect the crises our world is experiencing. Every day I heard and read about the impacts of conflict, droughts, floods, and rising food prices, and the logistical complexity of providing food assistance in many of the contexts where we support programming.

A few months later, I had an opportunity to visit some of our implementing partners and heard from
them about the realities that they were seeing. The message was clear. In South Sudan, I heard about how food insecurity has risen dramatically in recent years due to ongoing conflict and flooding. Partner staff from Kenya and Somalia used words like “dire” or “the worst we have ever seen” to describe the drought that has had devastating effects in the Horn of Africa.

I am, by nature, an optimistic person. But the picture I was seeing was bleak, and the challenges immense.

Fortunately, another type of email began filling my inbox. New projects, and lots of them. In the past several months we have launched millions of dollars of new programming to support people experiencing hunger. In fact, this year, members have implemented more programs through the Foodgrains Bank than ever before. In the face of unprecedented challenge, we have been able to launch an unprecedented response.

The challenges the world is facing have not gone away – in fact, they are expected to worsen this year. But there are also signs of hope. I see hope in the generosity we have experienced from our donors and the Government of Canada that has allowed us to expand our response. I see hope when I see and read about the impact that projects are having. And I see hope in the tremendous commitment and skill that our partners demonstrate in providing critical support in difficult situations.

As a result, I am going through 2023 feeling a little more hopeful again.

This story was originally published in the 2023 Spring edition of Breaking Bread. Download or order your copy here

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