Mark Lowcock is the top humanitarian official at the United Nations, serving as the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator.

When a manmade or natural disaster strikes, his UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which is known by its acronym OCHA, is the focal point for managing and coordinating the international humanitarian response, including getting food, shelter, medicines and other life saving needs to people affected by the crisis.

As Mark Lowcock explains, the UN and the constellation of NGOs that coordinate their actions through his office are very good at responding to crises. Keeping people alive who have been displaced or affected by manmade or natural disaster is something the UN excels at. The challenge is that there are a multitude of crises competing for a finite amount of resources and much of our conversation focuses on the challenge of funding these humanitarian operations, including some interesting new funding models that are emerging.

We kick off, though, discussing the situation in Yemen. We recorded this conversation on November 1st. The week prior Mark Lowcock briefed the Security Council on the deteriorating situation in Yemen and issued an extremely dire warning about a famine that looms over the country. Lowcock explains what compelled him to issue this warning about famine and we also discuss recent moves by the United States government to call for a ceasefire in Yemen.

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