Humanitarians facing a ‘super-storm’ of needs can use cartoons to create a ‘simple sense of existence’

Humanitarians facing a ‘super-storm’ of needs can use cartoons to create a ‘simple sense of existence’
9 September 2020

“There are many ways to serve. But maybe one good way is to use cartoons that are a very creative and dynamic way to influence humanitarian public opinion.”

This was an argument put forward at a Climate:Red workshop session earlier today by Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas.

“Many people say ‘life is a cartoon’,” he added. “But what that actually means is that we are all trying to create a simple human sense of our existence,” always based on values and principles as well as “the power of inclusion and participation”.

The workshop – a cartoonathon moderated by the Climate Centre’s Associate Director for Research and Innovation, Pablo Suarez, and attended by more than 50 people – included a group of artists who generated original works “to be shared and used around the theme of Climate:Red and in publications and social media,” organizers said.

“We want to have people working in climate,
building knowledge and awareness,
and creating advocacy”

“Cartoonathons are creative spaces of focused dialogue that allow stakeholders to have critical, revealing conversations,” said Suarez.

“Participants share the challenges and complexities they’re facing as artists listen carefully for nuances and tensions to create new cartoons in real time.

“The participants then engage with these drafts, make suggestions and comments and jointly create final versions.”

Referring to the way in which Covid-19 has complicated humanitarian work, Cotte said: “We are all running a kind of ‘multi-marathon’ in the world – especially in the Americas, we are running the marathon of serving people in health, water and sanitation, and psychosocial support,” along with issues such as migration, reduction of violence, protection, gender and inclusion in general.

Covid-19, he said, was “like a super-storm on top of all our needs that we have as communities in the region and globally…We want to have people working in climate, building knowledge, building awareness, creating advocacy in favour of others who are very excluded and are really suffering the humanitarian effects of climate change a lot.

“We also want to promote the agenda for disaster risk reduction and climate resilience so communities get the chance to use forecast information and make progress with very necessary climate adaptation.”

Walter Cotte (at left) talks to children in his native Colombia, where the Red Cross faces a wide range of needs including climate and seismic impacts and the legacy of the country’s long-running civil war. (Library photo: IFRC)