Changing the dialogue on Poverty

Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE International, talks to Global Citizen about how technology and the private sector are impacting the development world.

CARE was established in 1945 to provide relief in the form of supplies to post WWII ravaged Europe. Thus the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe and the CARE Package was born.  Over the years the organization has adapted to shifting global challenges, abandoned the acronym and emerged as one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations dedicated to fighting the underlying causes of poverty.

“Our task is really to put ourselves out of business,” explains CARE CEO, Helene Gayle. “There are a lot of organizations that focus on basic human needs-food, water and shelter-but it’s not enough to get people water if ultimately they don’t have access to potable water and water rights,” explains Gayle. “So our job doesn’t stop when we get commodities to people. It’s when we are able to change what prevented them from getting [the water] to begin with…”

Middle East

The Middle East has undergone huge changes in recent years and the fallout of the Arab Spring has resulted in some pressing development issues. Gayle cites youth unemployment and the needs of girls and women as the most urgent.

“Youth unemployment is a huge issue in this region where such a large portion of the population is young. It is going to have a big impact economically…One also needs to ensure that girls and women are adequately engaged in society and allowed to meet their full potential. This has a huge impact on how societies develop…we are looking at how to build a strong civil society that was really a process of the change that the Arab Spring represents.”

There is also immediate concern for the needs of Syrian refugees who are fleeing to Jordan in increasing numbers to escape the conflict-riddled nation. With the cold winter months looming, there is an urgent need for basic shelter, blankets, and other amenities so that “people are not further compromised or made more vulnerable.”

Self-sufficient communities

In addition to relief efforts, the organization has a number of development projects in the region. Among its triumph is a partnership with Dannon, the yogurt company, in Egypt.  Dannon has furnished state of the art milk collection centers within rural communities where individuals own one or two cows. Whereas previously these people depended on unreliable middlemen to sell their milk, this coll