Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) our briefing on the situation in Mali will continue. I want to thank both of our witnesses for being here today.
From the Canadian Council on Africa we have Lucien Bradet, who is the president and chief executive officer. Welcome, sir.
From Project Ploughshares we have John Siebert, who is the executive director. Welcome, John.
John and I go back. He used to live in my riding a number of years ago. I've known John over the years, so it's nice to have him here in front of the committee today.
Why don't we get started with you, Mr. Siebert? We'll start with your opening statement, and then we'll move over to Mr. Bradet, and then we will go around the room over the next hour to ask questions back and forth. I believe you have a presentation of between eight and ten minutes. We look forward to hearing from you, and then we'll go back and forth with the members of Parliament to ask questions.
Welcome. The floor is yours, sir.
Thanks for this opportunity to discuss Canada’s current role in Mali.
Let me start by saying that the cautious approach being taken by the Canadian government is welcome.
In the detailed briefing I have sent to you, I propose five principles to guide Canada’s decisions on how to contribute to the creation of sustainable peace in Mali. Specific initiatives can be tested against these principles.
The first three, dealing with humanitarian assistance, democracy and restoration, and building peace between the south and the north, have been spoken to very eloquently by other people who have appeared before this committee. I want to focus on the fourth and fifth principles that deal more directly with the military mission in Mali.
The crucial decision from my vantage point isn't boots on the ground or not boots on the ground, but what those boots do when they're on the ground. This applies to boots whether they're from Canada, France, Chad, Mali, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, or the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Canada should press Mali and other military forces to make protection of vulnerable citizens their primary mission, displaying the highest respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. Protecting vulnerable civilians will win and maintain the support of the local populations and should be the primary mission of Malian and international troops. Concrete military operational implications flow from this principle.
It's worth remembering that al-Qaeda and affiliated groups have a clear strategy for drawing western militaries into debilitating fights in inhospitable terrain. They use asymmetric tactics to exhaust the will and resources of their opponents. Why let them set the agenda when alternative frameworks for restoring security in Mali and the broader Sahel region are available?
The actions of Canada and others in Mali should not be characterized as being part of an anti-terrorism struggle. Instead, we should see Mali’s current challenges as the culmination of political, military, and ethnic breakdown in Mali, which various groups have exploited.
The initial success of the French, Chadian, and Malian armed military forces in dislodging al-Qaeda and other insurgent forces from various urban areas is a welcome development, but as you well know, it's not definitive. In the vast countryside, AQIM and some Tuareg factions have reportedly established bases and supply lines that will permit them to carry out asymmetric attacks well into the future.
It is tempting for French and other military forces with advanced technological weaponry to now engage in search and destroy missions in the desert using air and drone strikes and to send special forces on raids to kill insurgents. This is a whack-a-mole strategy that has actually been counterproductive in other settings. As they say, for every insurgent killed, another 10 brothers or cousins step forward to repel the apostate enemy.
Instead, the military mission in Mali should continue to focus on protecting civilians in main population areas and along travel and trade routes. Keep open humanitarian assistance corridors. Patrol the borders as well as possible to disrupt supply routes for insurgents. Contain those who use terrorist methods, and then capture and submit them to democratic processes of justice. Military capabilities may be needed on an interim basis for these tasks, but the function is more akin to policing and should in fact devolve over time into a policing mission rather than a military mission.
The Malian military is reportedly engaging in human rights violations and targeted killing of civilians, particularly people identified as Tuaregs and Arabs. These actions are morally reprehensible and contrary to international law. Such behaviour also deepens the alienation of local populations and makes the tasks of re-establishing democracy and negotiating south-north peace much more difficult.
Robert Fowler, who appeared before this committee earlier in the week, said in his book that during his captivity in northern Mali, on a regular basis he and his colleague, Louis Guay, were subjected to al-Qaeda propaganda loops on laptops.
Always part of the show were pictures and videos of Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo in Cuba, where western human rights standards were sacrificed on the altar of the great war on terror. Fowler bitterly detests and denounces these violations of fundamental human rights.
The deployment of ECOWAS troops to Mali under the auspices of UN Security Council Resolution 2085 is welcome. The problems in Mali threaten a broader range of countries than just Mali.
As a general principle, Canada should support policies and provide assistance that encourage and enable regional and sub-regional bodies like the African Union and ECOWAS to directly engage in peace operations in their own territories, assuming, of course, that the mission is properly authorized and implemented. Neighbours know the problems better and likely are more attuned to cultural and other dynamics.
Canada should strongly consider providing financial and technical assistance to the African-led international support mission to Mali, AFISMA, and to its UN successor, if AFISMA is re-hatted in some way as a UN mission. It should then address the problem of illegally circulating small arms and light weapons in Mali and its neighbours, and implement, as soon as possible, a program of disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation of fighters on all sides of the conflict.
Controlling and reducing the number of small arms and light weapons in Mali and the broader Sahel region should be a pressing priority for Canada and other new national actors in Mali. ECOWAS has enacted a convention on small arms, light weapons, their ammunition, and other associated material. This legally binding sub-regional instrument can provide the framework to attack this menacing reality. Canadian police and military have expertise in weapons stockpile management and control of guns in civilian possession and would make an important contribution to Mali’s long-term stability.
Finally, peace agreements, when they're reached, often fail when combatants are not disarmed, properly demobilized, and reintegrated into the social and economic life of their communities. DDR programs have been established in many countries after peace agreements were reached and, again, Canada could provide leadership to define both the need and the plan for implementation in the medium and longer term. There is a range of non-combatant but military contributions that Canada can make to Mali’s long-term peace and stability.
In closing, allow me to agree with Major-General Jonathan Vance, who appeared before this committee last week and said:
||...there is a tendency sometimes to see military kinetic action as being the silver bullet on the Islamist threat. In fact, kinetic action does not address root causes. An appropriate balance between hard military and all of the other things that have been mentioned here is what actually stops the Islamist threat. You simply are unable to use kinetics to stop this.
Thanks very much.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, good morning.
I'll just give you my background in Africa. I think I am the only Canadian who has ever graduated from the University of Rwanda, so it goes a few years back, just a few years back, fortunately, but Africa has been a little bit in my blood since then.
Thank you for giving the Canadian Council on Africa an opportunity to talk about such an important issue for Africa, but also for many Canadians.
In October 2012, in Paris, our declared the following:
||We must not allow the same problems that the world allowed to happen in Afghanistan to show their face in the Saharan region and Mali. The territorial integrity…the humanitarian situation, the fight against terrorism must remain a priority.
The minister expressed, I think, at that time, what Canadians believed then and still believe now. We should then look at Mali with that frame of mind, with the same glasses. Does it require the same action, the same approach? Maybe not, but one thing is for sure in our minds: that to be absent, to do nothing, is definitely not the response for such a condition.
CC Africa is an organization that was established about 10 years ago in the footsteps of Kananaskis. We're a group from the private sector, education, universities, and colleges. All of the government departments interested in the economic development of Africa also are members. Our mission is the economic development of Africa. We're not as much on the humanitarian side as many others are. We work with them, but our main focus is the economy of Africa.
Canada cannot afford to adopt an attitude of indifference or inactivity. That would be a serious mistake, as we would be failing to meet our responsibilities as a rich and developed country.
I realize a number of witnesses addressed the humanitarian issue as well as the stability of the region. Today I would like to shed some light on the economic aspect of the crisis, and what it means for Canada.
I will not go into all the potential scenarios in the region.
Again, there are many ways of looking at the region and what might happen there.
Many people have probably painted a bleak picture of the situation. Unfortunately, that could become a reality faster than we think. I would like to raise three reasons for Canada to play a role in this conflict.
For starters, some Canadian companies have major investments in Mali and the neighbouring regions. In Mali alone, we have 30 mining companies, which have invested a total of $400 million. Although those companies have not decided to leave the country, they may have to do so if peace is not restored. Some companies have already started slowing down their investments.
For the same reason, no new investments should be expected. Mali is a poor country in great need of those investments. So we have to protect the asset those natural resources represent. If investors continue to pursue economic development, those resources will help the countries make progress. The investments are even larger in the neighbouring countries—especially Niger and Burkina Faso—totalling billions of dollars.
Canada also continues to play a key role in Mali's economy. For those who are unaware, since the 2000s, a Canadian company, Canadian Bank Note, which is based here, in Ottawa, has been in charge of Mali's whole passport issuing system. It has also been responsible for the border control, tax documentation, license tax and tax systems. That's an enormous amount of work. An interesting fact about that huge job is that Canada won the contract over France, its competitor in that case. Some would say that France is creating an amazing springboard for itself going forward. So if Canada is not involved, it will lose out considerably.
More recently, a Montreal-based company, CRC Sogema, developed in Mali what could be referred to as a key element—a tax system. That project has been in the works since the 2000s and has just been revived with the setting up of a property tax system. That represents a revenue of 67 billion CFA francs for the Malian government. That figure is now over 200.
Canada has set up basic economic systems in Mali. It continues to provide Malians with very considerable assistance. Unfortunately, the conflict has led to a drastic drop in some of that revenue. The tax recovery rate is now 30%. It was much higher before the conflict began.
There is another reason for Canada to answer the call. My colleague here has talked about that. Despite all the good will of a number of African countries that have volunteered to help restore peace or perform peacekeeping activities, most of them do not have the required financial resources to equip themselves properly. The same goes for human resources training.
Given those circumstances, how could a military or peace force ensure peace, be it in large cities or across the country? I think that an exclusively African intervention would be very risky and would fail to achieve the desired outcome—peace, security and democratic governance.
As for the third point, I care deeply about Mali. I am sure that's the case for some members of the committee and perhaps even, I hope, for everyone around this table. Mali is one of the rare francophone African countries that could be qualified as a “country of focus”. Since the government made changes one or two years ago, only 2 francophone nations out of 26 remain countries of focus—Mali and Senegal.
If we reduce our presence in Senegal, the situation in certain communities will become even more of a purgatory than it currently is. In other words, that country is very appreciated by Canada. Its governance has been used as an example for a number of years, and Canada has carried out some amazing assistance programs there, as I just mentioned.
Can Canada afford to be a casual observer in this conflict? We don't think so. We have played an important role in Afghanistan, be it when it comes to assistance, development, logistics or training on the front, among other things. A few minutes ago, we talked about boots. We also played an active role in Libya. To a lesser extent, we play a role that has an impact on Syria, even though it is outside its territory. The terrorism issue is not close to being resolved. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, that issue is still very real in Mali and the region.
Why are we considering taking an almost-neutral approach in the case of such a poor country? I may be exaggerating a bit. We are not neutral; we say we are in favour of a solution. However, some of our actions indicate that we are not far from being neutral. Yet that is not in keeping with either the statements made by the minister or those made by Canadians.
We do not recommend an approach similar to that used in Afghanistan or Syria. However, we believe that Canada can increase its humanitarian aid and public safety assistance, and provide logistic support to African troops that are in the field and will probably remain there for quite some time. I am talking about support in communications, training and transportation. Finally, we recommend that Canada be very active when it comes to diplomacy and trade.
Knowing that I would appear today before this committee, members of certain companies asked me to give a clear message to the elected representatives. They want you to know that they continue to work in Africa because they have access to a system that complies with laws and regulations. According to them, if they leave or drastically reduce their presence, Canadian investments will be withdrawn or the commercial territory—if I may use that expression—will be totally taken over by others. If that is the case, Canada will lose out in one of the only two countries where it has some presence.
We risk losing a great deal, be it in terms of our influence in Africa, as I mentioned earlier, our trade interests—especially when it comes to investments—or the francophonie. I constantly hear other governments in Canada talk about that. I think that the Canadian government should also pay attention to that aspect.
I have gone slightly over my 10 minutes. Thank you.
Obviously with great respect for Mr. Fowler and for the experience he went through, which none of us would like to experience ourselves, I think the notion of offensive special forces, drone, and other kinds of attacks in the long run can be counterproductive, and not only should Canada refrain from these things, but so should the French, and so should the Malians.
You want to stabilize the population centres and over time spread that stability. Clearly there are a range of insurgents in Mali as has been reported. Some are extremely difficult, hard people, and over time, like spoilers in any insurgency, they are going to need to be confronted or they will come too and be confronted.
The emphasis should be on protecting civilians rather than offensive military action primarily because over time that's what works.
In 2006 there was a Rand study, not exactly the starting point for a Project Ploughshares reference, but it looked at how insurgencies end, and 93% end not by military or offensive military action. There are different ways of handling insurgencies.
Thank you both for coming.
I'm going to split my time with my colleague, which is regrettable since I would really like to pursue a conversation with you, Mr. Siebert. You know I've been a huge fan of Ploughshares for years and will continue to be so.
As you know, Mr. Fowler was here earlier this week, and he probably had the clearest thinking in certainly all of the testimony we've heard. Like him or dislike him, ignore him or accept him, he certainly was clear. The government has chosen, for whatever reason, to just dismiss him as a former diplomat who is somewhat obsessive because of his kidnapping.
Nevertheless, he does join the point with you on, if you will, the initial stages of the military response. The point is that you see this conflict as an insurgency, an insurgency being, if you will, a claim for political territory or a claim for geographic territory, or some ethnic dispute.
Mr. Fowler's point, on the other hand, is that this is not an insurgency, that this is a jihad and they actually don't care about the territorial integrity of Mali, they don't care about the politics of Mali, they don't care about anything Malian. They have a greater mission, and that is to spread some sort of 7th century Islam across the Sahel.
Therein lies the difference. Where you describe the military response as kind of whack-a-mole, Mr. Fowler would say the only point at this point is that you have to degrade and decapacitate al-Qaeda and all of their friends to such a point that they cannot pose a national, a regional, or an international threat, and that is your military goal. Without achieving that military goal, all else becomes fantasy, i.e., the road map to democracy, the restoration of any economic semblance of activity, etc.
I'd be interested to focus on that difference between responding to a jihadist threat versus responding to an insurgency that may or may not have territorial or political ambitions.
We've been active in Sudan and primarily east Africa. You have this band across the north where the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa overlap. You have the dynamics of ethnic and other tensions, religious differences and those sorts of things, demonstrated in Sudan and other countries.
It's important work not only to engage in the humanitarian and development assistance, but to twin that with peace-building efforts. utilizing the resources of civil society, although it may be weak at times, partnering with folks to do that work, and also working on the small arms and light weapons control and reduction agenda that plagues most of Africa, but particularly this part of Africa.
At one point, in about 2009 or 2010, one of your colleagues in the House—they'll remain nameless, just to stay on the non-partisan side of things—said that the pivot from Africa towards Latin America by the federal government, which is basically a reality, can't be maintained, and for two reasons. One is that there is this arc of instability that attaches to the Islamist security aspirations, but also, Canadian mining and other interests are increasing in Africa. Canada can't stay away.
I think some of the things you mentioned just a minute ago are evidence of that reality.
Here's the great news, and thank you for asking a question that allows me to say this. We've been tracking armed conflicts, wars, since 1987. In the last 15 years there's been a 40% decrease in the number of wars. Why did that happen? Here's the short story. The cold war ended, obviously, so that east-west confrontation wasn't being played out in proxy wars, but also there was a substantial increase in UN missions throughout the world, a substantial increase in UN diplomacy through special representatives of the Secretary-General, and development and humanitarian assistance investments, particularly in Africa.
The number of wars has decreased dramatically in Africa. Each one, if you're in it or your family's there, is a tragedy of untold proportions.
I'd also like to go back to the Soviet Union and the cold war. How did it end? It ended by people rising up. I know that internationally the churches, and other religious organizations were involved through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in the Helsinki process to keep pressing on the human rights, the human basket dimension, to look at economic incentives for ending those sorts of oppressive regimes.
My parents were refugees as four-year-olds in the 1920s from the former Soviet Union. I grew up with those stories. I'm privileged. I didn't live in a war zone when I grew up. But I think we shouldn't give up hope.
We have as a motto, part of our mission is to end war. You can chuckle a bit at the naïveté, but here's my Doctor Phil moment: how are these options working for ya?
Afghanistan has not responded to the types of initiatives that Mr. Fowler suggested here. Neither did Libya. We have a very unstable situation and we're not sure if a long-term sustainable peace in those places would happen. There are actually implications where the approach I'm advocating, which is a longer term peace-building approach, is much more dangerous for intervening troops. It's more likely that casualties will be taken, but you have to be there, you have to stay there, and you have to spread the security.
Sorry to take your time.
This will be quick. I just wanted to raise a point of clarification or point of order.
At the December 4 committee meeting, I asked Minister Fantino about the number of projects he had approved under the partnerships with Canadians programs, and actually the same question had been raised by my colleague Madame Laverdière. The minister didn't know the answer at the time of the meeting but committed to provide us with the exact number of projects that had been approved to that date.
We received the minister's response and I have it here in writing. It was provided to the committee on February 7, 2013. In it he says that as of January 23, 2013, he had approved 35 projects.
I obviously appreciate the response, but the minister's letter is not clear as to whether all 35 projects were under the partnerships with Canadians programs or if they include the total number of projects he has approved since his assignment as minister in July 2012.
Furthermore, the question I raised on December 4, 2012, was to ask how many projects had been approved by the partnerships with Canadians programs as of December 4, not January 23.
Mr. Chair, in order that the committee members have the clear information on which to base our mandated oversight of departmental spending, I ask that you request the minister provide a response to the question at hand, which is, as of December 4, 2012—which is when I posed the question—how many projects under partnerships with Canadians programs had been approved for funding by the minister.
Thank you very much, sir. I thank, as well, the panel for giving me this opportunity today.
The current escalation of the conflict in Mali comes at a time when Mali remains in the grip of a serious multidimensional crisis that affects the entire western Sahel region, where in a good year more than 230,000 children die of the consequences of malnutrition.
In 2012 there were more acute food and security crises spanning nine countries of the Sahara. It affected close to 19 million people and pushed 4.6 million Malians to the edge of survival with malnutrition rates beyond the emergency threshold.
In addition to a long-standing lack of democratic governance, rampant organized crime, and rising poverty in the region, the Libya crisis generated a large influx of weapons in the Sahel and the return of migrants that quickly fuelled insecurity in the north of Mali and forced more than 400,000 people to flee their homes. Massive displacements within and out of the country—Mauritania, Burkino Faso, Niger—exerted additional pressure on areas already severely affected by the food and nutrition crisis.
This year, humanitarian actors estimate that 4.3 million people are in need of assistance and protection, including 700,000 people in need of immediate food assistance in the north. There are 200,000 children under age five who remain at risk of severe acute malnutrition.
With renewed fighting on the 10th of January, Mali entered a new phase that saw growing humanitarian needs against a backdrop of increased isolation of its northern regions and limited access by humanitarian workers, including in areas previously considered secure.
More than 36,000 people have fled their homes in northern and central Mali as a result of armed confrontation, bringing the overall number of displaced Malians to 408,500. This figure includes 241,500 IDPs and 167,000 refugees.
The continued lack of access in some parts and the volatility of the security context have resulted in a growing isolation of the northern provinces, and therefore the situation of people remaining in the north is worrisome. There are reports of imminent food shortages, spikes in the price of available food commodities, and limited access to health care, education, and water.
With the closure of the Algerian border, the amount of food coming into the northern areas has halved. On the Mopti markets, which also supplied the northern regions, the availability of imported rice and millet dropped by 30%, while costing 120% more than the last five-year average.
If commercial and humanitarian traffic continue to be disrupted, the levels of food insecurity could increase in the next few weeks. The confirmed contamination of landmines and unexploded ordnance in areas around major towns in the north, such as Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, as well as in the central part of the country, Diabaly, Konna, Douentza, also poses a major threat to civilians. It prevents IDPs and refugees from returning home and humanitarian workers from helping those in need.
Insecurity related to the last round of fighting has similarly limited the scope of the humanitarian response in the north for the past weeks. Today, while the main corridor to the north, Mopti-Douentza-Gao, remains closed above Douentza, due to the presence of mines and terrorist threats, humanitarian access is now gradually improving in the central part of the country and humanitarian partners are now better able to scale up their response.
Food delivery by the World Food Programme, WFP, resumed on the 2nd and 3rd of February, using barges on the Niger River. Seven boats loaded with about 600 tonnes of commodities, targeting some 147,500 people, departed from Mopti to Niafunké district in the Timbuktu region. Basic emergency health kits, enough to treat 5,000 people per month, malnutrition treatment kits, and other emergency inputs were also sent by UNICEF to the Gao and Kidal regions.
Emergency response continues and is progressively scanning it. It is expected that humane trained agencies will gradually re-deploy in the conflict-affected areas in order to obtain a more tangible picture of the needs, better understanding of the local dynamics among communities, and deliver much needed emergency assistance.
The initial results of needs assessments show that people affected by the crisis identify food, shelter, lack of essential items, and access to clean water and sanitation as the top needs in addition to infrastructure repair.
Lack of access to health care and exposure to unsanitary conditions also pose a risk of increased epidemics, including cholera. It is imperative that food and nutrition assistance programs increase soon to address the needs of hundreds of thousands of people who were also already very vulnerable prior to the current crisis.
The response toward Malian refugees was also scaled up. The situation in the refugee camps is worrying, especially in Mauritania. Recent reports have shown critical gaps, and urgent funding is needed to address them. It is imperative that a distinction between the humanitarian and security political agenda be maintained. A failure to maintain this distinction could endanger the perceived neutrality and security of humanitarians and thus their ability to reach those in need.
An increased presence of humanitarian actors in the north would have a positive impact on the protection of civilians, but this requires rapid and unimpeded access. To do so, OCHA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and its partners are developing and maintaining sound civilian military coordination with Malian, French and AFISMA military forces.
The humanitarian partners also need security arrangements in terms of security management, information analysis, that will enable them to provide the much needed assistance. For such a security capacity to be deployed to Mali in a timely fashion, the UN system, through the United Nations Department of Safety and Security, UNDSS, urgently requires financial support to support the humanitarian response.
Cases of recruitment and use of children by armed groups and of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls continue to be reported. It is a priority for the humanitarian community in Mali to scale up assistance for the protection of civilians, in particular women and children, and roll out effective human rights monitoring. There are also grave concerns about the repercussions of military operations on the safety of civilians, notably in light of alleged executions committed by elements of armed forces. It is imperative that all parties operate in adherence with international humanitarian law and take all appropriate measures to protect civilians from the effect of hostilities. In this regard, we consider that the training of the Malian forces and AFISMA forces on the international human rights humanitarian and legal frameworks is a necessity especially in practical methods for the implementation.
The United Nations is also committed to implement its human rights due diligence policy, while providing support to the Malian authorities and AFISMA. Humanitarian partners will need to maintain a sustained dialogue with the minorities and communities at the national and local levels and be accountable to those they come to help.
It is also important that development projects continue where possible and that coordination mechanisms between humanitarian and development actors are announced to implement programs that would further build the resilience of the Malian people.
For all this to happen, it is crucial that funding be sustained for humanitarian activities in 2013. As of January 30, the Mali 2013 CAP has received only $10 million, less than 3% of its total $370 million requirement. Without adequate resources, humanitarian partners will not have the tools they require to meet the country's most urgent needs. The regional humanitarian coordinator estimates the most urgent requirements by United Nations agencies for Mali and neighbouring countries in the next three months at $148 million.
Much more is needed to keep providing help to the displaced and the families who host them, to maintain our response to the continuing impact of the 2012 food and nutrition crisis, and to address the underlying chronic nature of food insecurity. It is vital that necessary funds be made available immediately to enable us to address these priority needs.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much, Mr. Levet, for joining us here this morning.
It's been an interesting investigation over the last several weeks about what's going on in Mali. Canada is very concerned about the humanitarian situation that is taking place there. Our foreign affairs minister has called many times for a safe passage for humanitarian assistance to get through. Perhaps you can speak to some of the issues.
Before doing that, I want to reinforce the fact that Canada has been present in Mali. It's been a country of focus for us. We've been putting $110 million a year in for the last three years to ensure that we develop that resilience, to build on governance issues, to help them build capacity in many areas. We've been involved in security building as well. Canada has had quite a presence there.
You talk specifically about the funding conference that took place in Addis Ababa and the money hasn't come in. Could you speak to the issue of how important it is that countries pay what they pledge? Obviously, you have to make your plans based on that. Canada has affirmed that we will put in $13 million. Canada has a history under this government of paying what we pledge. Could you speak to that? How do you go about making your plans when the money isn't always forthcoming? What do you do if you don't get that money?
The other thing I'd like you to speak to is the effectiveness of our contribution to the Sahel region resilience program. Canada stepped up to the plate a year ago when we saw the Sahel starting this cyclical drought problem, which has happened there for decades, probably millennia. Canada came forward with $56 million last year to help build that resilience. Can you tell the committee what kinds of programs have been initiated that are going to help the Sahel region for the long run, not just for this problem specifically, but for the long run in helping to build irrigation and develop a food program that they are going to have in perpetuity?
The floor is yours.