"Leave no one behind". The first part of the theme for International Development Week in Canada this year is both challenging and evocative in that it cuts to the very heart of why individuals, and organizations like Veterinarians without Borders/Vétérinaires sans frontières (VWB/VSF) invest so much in development work around the world.
Both figuratively and literally, international development is about making sure that people do not get left behind. For VWB/VSF it may mean that people have adequate nutrition, through the provision of livestock and livestock products, so that they can develop physically and intellectually. It may mean assisting in economic development so that people can live with the dignity of a reasonable income for food, clothing, shelter, and health care. It may mean programming to help people adapt to a changing climate, particularly those in the Global South who are the most vulnerable.
This year, the phrase "leave no one behind" has particular poignancy for our work in South Sudan. We have worked in that country for nearly 4 years, supporting tens of thousands of people who have fled conflict with little more than their animals, and helping the people of South Sudan care for their livestock and produce more and better food in an effort to stave off catastrophic food shortages. South Sudan is a difficult place to work. The climate can be hot and unforgiving, there is little in the way of infrastructure or the comforts we are used to. This year, a new round of violence forced many people to flee for their lives. For VWB/VSF it would be very easy to leave South Sudan behind -- to go work somewhere easier and safer. But we have chosen to stay. Our local staff and our VSF partners from Switzerland and Germany are determined to complete the work we have already committed to and we are working together to seek out new opportunities to help. We do not want to abandon the hard-working people who have already suffered so much.
This little girl, and the baby brother that she cares for, represent the future of South Sudan. Will they have enough food so that they don't grow up stunted and malnourished? Will they have an opportunity to go to school? Will they be spared the violence that plagues their country? Those are the tough questions that motivate VWB/VSF to do the work it does, not only in South Sudan but wherever it is active in Africa and Asia.
International Development Week 2017 -- Leave no one behind: Canada contributes to global goals.