Over a month ago, women peacebuilders from across the world warned about food insecurity and a food crisis that will hit vulnerable countries. They saw the problem unfold in their communities and raised their voices in many venues to alert the world to the crisis. The women, as they do often, did not wait for any help from governments but took immediate actions to alleviate the suffering of their people. I wrote about that two weeks ago.

Weeks later, a study on food insecurity by an alliance of UN, governmental, and non-governmental agencies was published. The study analyses how the pandemic affects countries that are already suffering from food insecurity, and how “the COVID-19 pandemic is perpetuating downward cycle for millions.”

More often than not, women on the ground have the knowledge and have devised the actions needed before governments and international organizations are aware of the problem. They always ring the alarm bells to avoid catastrophes, but the sound usually falls on deaf ears and millions of people suffer.

By the time governments and giant organizations write their reports, approve them, and start thinking of solutions, crises are many times worse. Such crises could have been averted if they only listened to the women who are entrenched in their communities and have the knowledge and skill needed.

The way it usually happens, official actions to tackle the crisis also refrain from working with the women on the ground. Even though these women already have systems and plans in place, and have been trying to fix the problem since before the world noticed, they still are usually sidelined. By the time the world moves, millions would go through avoidable suffering.

I urge the United Nations and governments, with a special appeal to the Canadian government, to heed the advice of women and work with those on the ground. Help them and do not sideline them, for they have the trust of their communities, the knowledge of what is needed, and the expertise to handle the crisis.

Let us do more, and even during this very trying time for our countries, let’s ask our government not to forget the most vulnerable in our world.