Using your voice: more powerful than you think


There’s a famine in parts of South Sudan.

The government and United Nations agencies announced it in February, and it’s the first famine declared in six years, with almost 50 per cent of South Sudan’s population at risk of becoming severely food insecure.

That’s around 5.5 million people, which is nearly four times the population of Manitoba.

Sometimes, it’s hard to fully grasp numbers like these. I’m guilty of reading news articles and looking at photos of situations in developing countries—in this case South Sudan’s famine—and feeling bad for a while, and then continuing on with my life.

There’s not much I can do anyway, right? I’m just a broke college student trying to find a decent job and myself at the same time, so anything I do is hopeless, right?

Wrong. As students, we can at least try to help.

Although the most common way for Canadians to support South Sudan and other developing countries is by donating money to charities that work in international aid, as students that isn’t always an option.

If that’s the case, you can use your voice.

In 1970, the UN recognized that the official development assistance (ODA) target for developed countries should be 0.70 per cent of the country’s gross national income. In 2000, Canada joined 189 other countries in a commitment to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals, which included ending global hunger, and in 2015 adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which also including achieving no hunger.

Right now, Canada’s international aid doesn’t fully reflect these commitments. According to an article on OpenCanada, in 2015 Canada spent 0.28 per cent of its gross national income on ODA.

To me, that seems like something to bring to the current government’s attention (not like you’ll be the first person doing this, but reminders from different people never hurt).

Find out a little more about what’s going on, and then send a letter to your local member of Parliament. Tell them you care. Encourage others to do the same.

It might not seem like a lot, but it’s the least we can do.