Germany Contributes More to The Global FundDirk Niebel, Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, made the announcement that Germany plans to provide a total of 1 billion euros to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) when he spoke at the World Economic Conference on January 24th. The 1 billion euros will be distributed in the current period of 2012 to 2016.

Germany is already the third-largest supporter of the Global Fund. USAID boasts that with more than 1,000 programs in 151 countries,  “Global Fund support has provided 4.2 million people with antiretroviral treatment, detected and treated 9.7 million new cases of infectious tuberculosis, and distributed 310 million insecticide-treated nets to protect families from malaria transmission.”

Germany, USAID, private donors, and the rest of the international community keep striving for new ways to improve and implement life-saving strategies around the globe. It is great news that Germany is willing to step up with a large commitment and hopefully, it will encourage all member nations of the U.N. to consider following suit and increasing their donations.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: USAID

Save the Children Builds on MDGs - Goals for 2030Save the Children has proposed its goals for a post-2015 development agenda. Ending Poverty in Our Generation lists ten major goals, aiming to end extreme poverty globally by 2030. Building on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose progress on its 8 development goals have not been consistent, Save the Children hopes to play a part in realizing the eventual global impacts by delineating their priorities.

Save the Children’s Chairman Harpal Singh praises the MDGs for raising 600 million people out of poverty and providing 56 million children access to schools and education. This significant improvement in the past couple of decades shows that the end of extreme poverty is attainable. To work towards that end, Save the Children acknowledges the faults in the MDGs’ framework, which should be addressed dynamically, while also proposing new targets for creating a sustainable future.

The report proposes that the political process at the level of the UN needs to be cohesive, that inequality has to be tackled at its roots for the progress of every group of people to advance, and that a mechanism should be created to hold governments accountable in global cooperation for development.

The 10 goals proposed by Save the Children, aiming for progress by 2030, are as follows:

  1. Ending extreme poverty by generating growth inclusively
  2. Securing universal access to sustainable food, water and sanitation
  3. Providing universal basic health care, and preventing child and maternal mortality
  4. Providing education for children everywhere, and ensuring that the children are learning
  5. Creating a global environment where children can live free from violence and are protected in any conflict
  6. Creating accountable governance
  7. Establishing strong global partnerships in working for development
  8. Creating societies that remain resilient through disasters
  9. Creating a sustainable and healthy environment universally
  10. Delivering sustainable energy universally

This proposal puts forward a set of universally common goals that draw on the strength and successes of the MDGs to ultimately create a brighter and more sustainable future.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: Trust
Photo Source: Save the Children

"Survival Still" Offers Help in DisastersThe “Survival Still” System was announced a few months ago by inventor Glenn Meder. It is a new water distillation system that changes unsanitary, undrinkable water into water that is completely safe for human consumption. Contaminated water of any kind can be transformed into drinkable water, including muddied or ocean water. This product could be incredibly helpful to people in disaster situations, or even those who normally live with limited access to safe drinking water, as most of the world does.

The system relies heavily on distillation; it boils the water and collects the steam, which is the only pure part of the process. The Survival Still is made of stainless steel and does not need any filters. As seen in the photograph above, the Survival Still only needs the water and heat to provide fresh drinking water for the user. In any case, the process can be done in almost any location, provided there is an acceptable heating source.

Although the Survival Still was primarily created for victims of catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy or other devastating natural disasters, it can be used by those who constantly struggle for access to clean drinking water, such as those in the developing world who face poverty on a daily basis. Many people do not have easy access to clean, safe drinking water that many U.S. citizens enjoy. They travel miles to reach clean water, and if they choose to drink water closer to their homes, they run a high risk of receiving potentially fatal waterborne diseases.

The design of this product was mastered over 20 years, and the current version is simple but functional. The reason Meder created the Survival Still was both to give one to every home in the United States (just in case) and also to help attempt to solve the water crisis that is occurring on a global scale. The lack of water in developing countries is one of the biggest issues of today, and the Survival Still, if distributed properly, could help move us towards a sustainable solution.

– Corina Balsamo

Source: Water World

Curbing Maternal Death In EthiopiaWhile Ethiopia’s health system has improved, women are still dying from common birthing complications that can occur before, during and after childbirth. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that approximately 25,000 maternal deaths occur annually.

Luwei Pearson, Chief of the Health Section at the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) in Ethiopia said, “There must be efforts to ensure that health facilities are not just available but that they are also functional by, for instance, fitting them with electricity and piped water.”

As of 2011, Ethiopia recorded 676 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. In 2005, there were only 673 maternal deaths recorded. Ethiopia aims to decrease its current maternal death rate to 267 as of 2015.

The five major causes of maternal mortality in Ethiopia are ruptured uterus, abortion complications, postpartum hemorrhage, puerperal sepsis, and preeclampsia/eclampsia.

The Ethiopian government has created steps to lower the rates of maternal death. These initiatives include the use of a scorecard to determine the effectiveness of the health system as well as the creation of a health extension program that has trained about 30,000 extension, health workers.

Currently, only 1% of expectant mothers deliver with the supervision of extension health workers. The Ministry of Health reports that these workers have individually helped 2,500 people. The number helped will increase as more extension health workers are trained.

Rural areas require particular attention as around 83% of Ethiopia’s 87.1 million residents reside in rural areas. There is a drastic difference between the percentages of babies delivered with the help of skilled personnel in urban versus rural areas with 45% in urban areas and only 3% in rural areas.

Health facilities must also be built in order to ensure hygienic birthing conditions in rural areas. The University of Addis Ababa determined in 2009 that in the rural Tigray Region, 80% of maternal deaths occur in the home and 50% were the result of failed transportation to a health facility.

“We are optimistic that [the] goal [of reducing child and maternal mortality] is achievable… because we have seen Ethiopia achieve a more than 40 percent reduction in child mortality [among children] under five in the last five years. We have seen sub-Saharan Africa achieve a 39 percent reduction,” said Rajiv Shah, administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

– Kasey Beduhn

Source: IRIN
Photo: World News Network

Bill Gates on "Why Measurement Matters"

Bill Gates currently leads one of the most successful and far-reaching humanitarian organizations. Despite constant criticism on his attempts to maximize investments, Bill Gates’ focus on ‘Why Measurement Matters’ in his 2013 Letter may be the perfect question to “help drive global change”.

Every year Bill Gates writes a letter on behalf of his and his wife Melinda’s foundation. Inspiring stories, powerful words, and optimism fill up several pages along with photos of villagers. This year however, Mr. Gates sounded more similar to a business consultant than a humanitarian. His campaign “Why Does Measurement Matter” discusses the need to think in the most basic terms: quality over quantity. Instead of asking governments to increase their funding for foreign aid, organizations must begin training their volunteers and workers to begin thinking like business owners. Collecting data, mapping progress, accepting failures, and brainstorming for solutions all need to be incorporated into the daily tasks for health clinics, schools, and centers around the world.

Mr. Gates illustrates that keeping records, enforcing strict organization, and creating a comfortable environment for workers are key to ensuring the effectiveness of a non-profit humanitarian organization. In a business, financial analysts track the rising and falling of stock prices over decades; marketing directors report successful or failing advertisement techniques; CEOs receive reports on company losses and gains. These techniques must become commonplace within humanitarian organizations not only to ensure their donors that their money is being put to good use, but be able to guarantee successful projects.

But does mimicking a business model go against the basic purpose of a non-profit? A business’ goal is to make profit while an NPO or NGO focuses on increasing the well-being of individuals or a community. So then why do most people automatically associate the word ‘profit’ with money? Business models work for for-profit companies not only because they are designed specifically to help increase the company’s sales and worth but because they incorporate common sense and basic administrative work to achieve set goals.

One of the examples in Bill Gates 2013 Annual Letter of how new measuring techniques can bring about efficiency is the increase of children’s immunization in Ethiopia. Even with health clinics spread out in the most rural areas, accurate record keeping of birth certificates and simple organization helps clinic workers collect a significant amount of data. These records identify which areas need focus, as well as mapping the appearance and disappearance of diseases.

Bill Gates does not suggest a dramatic increase in funding or introduce expensive materials. He does not suggest holding conferences with major donor countries or criticizing local organizations for failing to meet their goals. The simple solution comes down to “quality monitoring…setting clear goals, picking the right approach, and then measuring the results to get feedback”. Yet as simple as this approach may be to a business manager, this solution is much harder to achieve naturally in poorer countries. Heads of organizations must create a work environment in which volunteers and employees will feel comfortable reporting negative results. Therefore, it is important understand the necessity of not cutting corners when taking down vital information of patients who come into the clinics.

Through simple and realistic propositions, Bill Gates 2013 Annual Letter offers: a focused resolution for revitalizing humanitarian organizations, to debunk the myth that foreign aid is a waste, and to encourage organizations around the globe that defeating extreme poverty, child mortality, and the spread of diseases is an obtainable goal.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Gates Foundation
Video: Gates Foundation

UN Declares 2013 The International Year On WaterThe U.N. has declared 2013 to be the International Year on Water Cooperation, and the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO) was appointed to lead preparations. The UN-Economic Commission for Europe, (UNECE) and the UN-Departments of Economic and Social Affairs, (UNDESA) will cooperate with UNESCO. The UN-Water Decade Program on Capacity Development, (UNW-DPC) and the UN-Water Decade Program on Advocacy and Communication, (UNW-DPAC) have offered support.

The U.N. first established World Water Day (WWD) in 1993 on March 22nd as a means to highlight the importance of fresh water, and to emphasize the need for its sustainable management.

Each year WWD focuses on a different aspect of freshwater. In 2013, UNESCO will educate the public about the need for international water cooperation.

Demand for freshwater resources is ever rising. Access to water is linked to poverty reduction as well as economic improvement. Preservation of water benefits the environment as well.

Most importantly, UNESCO aims to start a conversation about water cooperation in order to find innovative means to ensure the sustainability and availability of freshwater resources.

The International Year on Water Cooperation will serve to remind people throughout the world that they are stakeholders in water, and that we must begin to work together to ensure the sustainability of freshwater resources.

– Kasey Beduhn

Source: UNESCO
Photo: LGC News

Rebuilding Haiti's RubbleIn 2010, a vicious earthquake rocked the nation of Haiti. Thousands were killed, and untold destruction was wrought upon countless homes and families. Despite its representation of the rampant destruction that once occurred, the remaining rubble is now re-purposed to provide a pathway forward for those who need it most. This is a crucial and hopeful step for the Haitian government to accept help from the United Nations (UN), to focus on rebuilding Haiti’s rubble of the 2010 earthquake.

Thus far, over 80 percent of the rubble is off the streets. Over 20 percent of what has been cleared has been recycled to provide materials for reconstruction. Essentials like stairs and tiles are created with the help of over 20,000 temporary UN and Haitian government workers and Haitian government workers. Construction is focused on making homes that have the capacity to withstand future disasters, including flooding and additional earthquakes.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has provided Haitian citizens grants to purchase repairs and construction materials through monetary transfers via mobile networks. UNDP has trained thousands of Haitians on subjects ranging from home repair to urban planning.

As these projects go on, the Haitian government continues to pursue its “16/6” program, which seeks to close six camps of Internally Displaced Persons and have those people rehabilitate 16 neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Recently, over ten thousand families have returned to their homes.

– Jake Simon

Source: UNDP
Photo Source: Christian Science Monitor

An Anti-Slavery Campaign Called "The Backstory"An anti-slavery campaign called The Backstory has been launched by MTV. Inspired by the winning entry of mtvU’s “Against Our Will” project, the campaign will feature an interactive website with dance videos showing how women and immigrants are trafficked into prostitution and forced labor. The project is focused on demonstrating how trafficking is an issue that can strike anyone and what can be done to counter it.

Collaborating with the anti-slavery campaign are rapper Talib Kweli and dancers from Ailey II. “Ailey II is honored to provide the visual embodiment of these powerful backstories of human labor and sex trafficking,” said Troy Powell, Ailey II’s artistic director. “This is the first time we have participated in an effort such as this one, and it is rewarding to be able to bring awareness to such a worthy cause.”

The winning entry of mtvU’s “Against Our Will” project came from four students at James Madison University. The goal of the project was to find an innovative way to utilize the internet to bring awareness to modern-day slavery. Anti-human trafficking organizations working alongside the “Against Our Will” anti-slavery campaign include the Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, and Girls Educational and Mentoring Services.

“We hope to move viewers to take action and share what they have learned with their friends and networks,” added Powell.

Rafael Panlilio

Source: CNNMTV


UK Labour’s Plan for International DevelopmentBritish Shadow Secretary for International Development Ivan Lewis presented Labour’s plan for development scheme after 2015 when the general election in the UK will be held. The UN Millennium Development Goals are also due for reassessment in 2015. Lewis proposed that the new framework will be based on equal partnership, claiming, “Gone are the days when G8 governments could impose their views on the rest of the world.”

Lewis acknowledged that many of the Millennium Development Goals will not be met by 2015 but cited its significant impact on raising global awareness. Labour’s “One Nation: One World” goal will focus on promoting social justice and dealing with inequality through stimulating economic growth that is sustainable. As Lewis wrote, “Ending aid dependency is the right objective for the dignity, independence and self-determination of nations and their citizens.” Lewis recognized that global issues impact the security of Britain and that globalization in this interconnected world is “a reality, not a choice, both in Europe and the wider world.”

Lewis went on to cite Labour’s accomplishments in establishing the Department for International Development on the cabinet-level, as well as committing to spending 0.7% of the gross national income on aid. Labour leader Ed Miliband is dedicated to building on Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s legacy for working towards a “fairer and sustainable” world. He also faulted Prime Minister David Cameron, who is now a co-chair of the UN high-level panel on development, for having “an ideological reluctance to focus on inequality.”

Lewis ended with an optimistic aspiration, “Our generation can and should be the generation which ends absolute poverty, reduces inequality and safeguards the planet.”

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: Guardian
Photo: Guardian

michael-kors-joins-the-united-nations-to-end-world-hungerMichael Kors joins the United Nations‘ initiative to try and end world hunger. Michael Kors recently launched a PSA, or a public service announcement, stating he would raise awareness and money for the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP). Together, Michael Kors and the United Nations are committed to a long-term campaign to attain the goal of a hunger-free world. Michael Kors has promised to take a large part in various awareness-raising events, as well as separate events to engage in fundraising for the United Nation’s program.

The United Nation’s World Food Program aims to primarily help mothers and children in need and to help provide sustenance and other assistance when needed. The first initiative planned, as Michael Kors joins the United Nations’ goal of ending world hunger, is focused on a pair of unisex watches. Kors recently announced the launch of a new product, the two watches, with the slogan “Watch Hunger Stop.” Through this program, every single watch sold will help feed 100 children.

Kors commented, “I am so proud to be joining the World Food Programme in one of the greatest global fights of our time – the battle to end hunger.” His words reflect his excitement to be a part of the initiative. As Michael Kors joins the United Nations’ battle against world hunger, and he will certainly do his best to make it happen. WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin made a similar comment reflecting the company’s excitement to have Michael Kors aboard. Although the global fashion community is not the most obvious audience of the world hunger campaign, reaching so many people will certainly help the cause tremendously.

To watch Kors’ official PSA, look here.

– Corina Balsamo

Sources: World Food Programme, WFP News
Photo Source: Haute Living