Information and stories addressing children.

Human Trafficking in Burkina Faso
Since gaining its independence from France in 1960, Burkina Faso has trodden down a rather tumultuous path. Through political instability in the 1960s and 70s to frequent terrorist attacks in the 2010s (with over 100 confirmed extremist attacks in the first quarter of 2019), Burkina Faso has been plagued by constant insecurity.

Currently, Burkina Faso has a 77 percent unemployment rate, despite the country’s slight growth in gross domestic product (GDP) over the last three years. These high unemployment rates, combined with the tumultuous economic and political fields, fuse to create poor living and working conditions, paving the way for human trafficking, which seemingly envelops every facet of life. From agriculture to mining, human trafficking in Burkina Faso is an issue that must be addressed.

Human Trafficking in Burkina Faso

The U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking Persons has established a four-tier ranking to describe a country’s status regarding the presence of and efforts to eradicate human trafficking. These ranks range from tier one, which details countries that comply with 2008’s Anti-Trafficking Laws, to tier two, tier two (watchlist), and tier three, which denotes countries that both do not comply with these laws and have made very little effort in meeting the standards set forth by these laws.

Burkina Faso is currently designated as a tier two nation. The U.S. Department of State emphasizes that the country, as a whole, has not met the standards set forth in 2008, though progress has been made in attempts to combat the issue of human trafficking through awareness campaigns and the steady increase of investigations in trafficking cases.

Burkina Faso is a current source, throughway and destination for human and sex trafficking. According to the Department of State’s 2019 report on human trafficking, the Burkinabe government has identified at least 851 victims of trafficking, and 2,844 potential victims of trafficking (including an estimated 1,350 homeless children, according to Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Women). However, these numbers are still estimates from incomplete data from somewhere between 30 and 45 of Burkina Faso’s 45 provinces.

Despite the lack of concrete data, the Burkinabe government has been able to identify more at-risk populations during 2018 than in previous years due to a stark rise in awareness and attentiveness. Currently, however, Burkina Faso’s government still lacks the resources to totally dismantle the seemingly institutionalized trade.

Current Governmental Measures

Burkina Faso’s government has made efforts to support those that it has identified as potential trafficking victims, as well as those who are subjected to harsh working conditions in general, by creating shelters to provide food, clothing and security. However, these shelters are rarely found outside of large metropolitan areas and are only able to house a certain number of victims at once. Furthermore, while this support is essential, it does not solve human trafficking in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso lacks the tools necessary to fully abolish human trafficking. While funding and staffing-power are certainly absent, lack of information and data appear to be the largest obstacles standing in the way of progress.

Missing police reports and insufficient data blur the complete picture of human trafficking in Burkina Faso. It has been reported that 61 traffickers were convicted in 2018, though it is unclear how significant these prosecutions have been in combatting the industry as a whole. Furthermore, the sentences doled out to these traffickers did not meet the standards of 2008’s anti-trafficking law, another contributing factor to Burkina Faso’s tier two status.

To prevent future human trafficking, the Ministry of Women and the Burkinabe government have assembled a committee designed to oversee the reduction and eventual eradication of human trafficking in Burkina Faso, though, this committee did not convene during the U.S. Department of State’s reporting period, and failed to produce any full-fledged intervention due to insufficient resources.

Furthermore, additional measures have been made to ensure that children are kept out of poor labor conditions. Even without sufficient funding, the Burkinabe government was able to free 20,000 child workers from mines between the years of 2015 and 2019.

Current Non-Governmental Measures

Collaborative work and interventions between Burkina Faso’s government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have yielded more promising results than those spearheaded solely by the government. While these coalitions still lack the resources for a more chronic, wide-spread response to human trafficking, they have disseminated information about human trafficking, hopefully preventing certain populations from getting enveloped in the trade. This increase in awareness of human trafficking among the general Burkinabe population helps facilitate change. The more citizens are mindful of human trafficking, the higher chance that more might be done about the issue.

NGOs have also played an important role in advocating for greater police training to combat and limit stigma around certain occupations, such as prostitution. UNAids recently partnered with REVS PLUS, a French NGO, to assist in the training of the police forces in Burkina Faso to help provide adequate medical care to sex workers.

Moving Forward

Burkina Faso has made strides in combatting and preventing human trafficking through heightened awareness. That said, there is still work to be done in the area. The creation of subcommittees to form a more “boots-on-the-ground” approach has gained enough ground to educate a significant portion of the population on the issue at hand (over 500,000, with about four percent of this number being children).

Advocacy and awareness are only the first steps to improving conditions for those at-risk for trafficking, those currently being trafficked and for all Burkinabe people in general. Action steps, such as the continuation of prosecuting and convicting human traffickers, appear to be trending upward, though improvement can be seen in this area. It is also important to address the other issues plaguing Burkina Faso; continuing economic growth and maintaining political stability will go a long way in abolishing human trafficking in Burkina Faso.

– Colin Petersdorf
Photo: Flickr

illegal mica minesIf you’ve ever used glittery lipstick or eyeshadow, there’s a good chance the products used contained mica, a brittle, shiny mineral which creates a glittering effect in everything from makeup to paint to toothpaste. According to the Responsible Mica Initiative, there’s a one in four chance that the glitter in that makeup came from an illegal mine that supported child labor.

Where does Mica come from?

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s mica comes from India, particularly from region of Jharkhand where the world’s largest mica deposits can be found. Despite its mineral wealth, the region is plagued by poverty and hunger. Of the 33 million people who live in Jharkhand, 13 million are living below the poverty line. This makes Jharkhand one of the poorest regions in India.

Almost half of the children there are underweight while nearly half of its children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth. In addition, illiteracy is also common. In the rural areas of Jharkhand, the percentage of women who are literate is barely more than 45 percent. Because of this poverty, child labor has become common. Having no other options, many families allow their children to find work instead of going to school.

The mica mines in the region, many of which are run by cartels, are more than willing to take advantage of this. While employing miners under the age of eighteen is illegal, it is estimated that around 20,000 children and teenagers in Jharkhand are working for mica mines. However, it’s hard to say if this is the true number, given that all of these children are working for mines that do not officially exist.

The Dangers of Mica Mining

Some of these children are as young as five, and the nature of their work leaves them completely unprotected from the danger of the mines. These “ghost” mines, as the illegal mines are sometimes called, operate without any sort of safety regulations. The hollowed-out caves often collapse, frequently crushing miners or trapping them underground.

While the true number can’t be found, some estimates claim that at least two to five children die in the mica mines each month. Many of these deaths are never reported because of the risk they would pose to the mica industry. One mica miner recalled the story of a woman who had fallen into the mines and died, but her death certificate claimed that the cause of death was a fall from a two-story building.

Even without that risk, other dangers include the risk of being stung by scorpions that hide under the rocks and cutting themselves. In addition, many miners end up breathing in silica dust, which can lead to silicosis, a chronic respiratory condition that leads to breathing difficulties and eventual scarring in the lungs. Many workers also run a high risk of contracting asthma or black lung disease.

To add insult to injury, miners usually receive a pittance for their work, especially underage miners. One child reported that his usual daily pay was about 50 rupees or less than $1. Worst of all, reports on illegal mica mining show that ghost mines aren’t an anomaly in Jharkhand. Some claim that at least 70 percent of the region’s exported mica is illegally mined.

The Solution

How will the makeup industry and makeup buyers distance themselves from the cruelty and corruption that supplies so much mica? One answer is to stop using mica or to ensure that the mica they use is ethically sourced. As the world becomes aware of the plight of the Jharkhand miners, this is what many makeup companies are doing. In January 2018, the company Lush began using synthetic mica, which is produced in a lab.

Other companies are calling for a more ethical supply chain. The Responsible Mica Initiative, an alliance formed between cosmetics companies including l’Oreal, Chanel and Estee Lauder, has the goal of eradicating child labor in mica production within the next five years. Along with their efforts to ensure that their companies only use ethically sourced mica, the Initiative is working with the Indian government and local authorities to empower communities in the Jharkhand region in hopes of cutting off the region’s dependence on predatory mica mines.

Cracking Down on Illigal Mines

Meanwhile, the Indian government has been doing what they can to crack down on illegal mines. After an ongoing investigation, including the investigation of several unreported deaths in the Jharkhand region, the Indian government has begun pushing to legalize mica mining again. If more mines become legal, the logic goes, they would have to allow for accountability regarding how they treat their workers and they wouldn’t be able to employ children or teenagers.

Many experts agree, however, that the key to stopping predatory illegal mines is ensuring that the people of Jharkhand do not have to depend on those mines to survive. This is what the Responsible Mica Initiative is aiming to do by empowering villages in rural Jharkhand. Its empowerment programs involve efforts to have more children enrolled in school, to educate people on alternate sources of income, to improve healthcare in villages and to strengthen local institutions.

In a region afflicted with poverty and crippled by its dependence on mica, the issue goes far deeper than simply eradicating illegal mines. However, with the persistance of makeup companies and organizations like the Responsible Mica Initiative, the region may be able to climb out of poverty and break the cycle of child exploitation that has plagued it for so long.

– Keira Charles

Photo: Flickr

 

Romanian orphanagesIn January 1990, Daily Mail reporter Bob Graham was one of the first British journalists to visit a Romanian orphanage in Bucharest.  This trip unraveled the troubled history of Romanian orphanages. “Usually, when you enter a room packed with cots filled with children, the expectation is lots of noise, chatter or crying, sometimes even a whimper,” he said in an interview with Public Radio International in 2015. “There was none, even though the children were awake. They lay in their cots, sometimes two to each cot, sometimes three, their eyes staring. Silently. It was eerie, almost sinister.”

“They were inhuman,” he continued, recalling the living conditions of those he saw. “Stalls where children, babies, were treated like farm animals. No, I am wrong — at least the animals felt brave enough to make a noise.”

Journalists like Graham began to expose the nightmarish history of Romanian orphanages in December 1989. Their reports broke the hearts of the international community. As the haunting details of such places began to emerge, so did numerous charities, fundraising activities and adoption efforts.

The impassioned relief effort provided things such as blankets, powdered milk and toys. However, little improvement was actually made in the decade following the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Much of what defined the old, corrupt regime bled into the new government. Consequently, this interrupted any progress and left the abject conditions of orphans unaddressed.

When Emil Constantinescu was elected in 1997, however, a period of greater reform ushered in. Under his government, services were implemented that helped his countries’ parentless, such as establishing a new Child Protection Authority and promoting foster care. Since then, the system has made vast improvements. However, the living conditions of orphans remain problematic in Romania and throughout Eastern Europe to this day.

The ‘Decret’

It all started with a decree.

The last Communist leader of Romania, Nicolae Ceauşescu, took a page out of the 1930s Stalinist dogma and enacted pronatalist laws to fuel his belief that population growth would lead to economic growth. In October 1966, Decree 770 was enacted. It forbade both abortion and contraception for women under 40 with fewer than four children.

Children born during these years are popularly known as decreței. Decreței comes from the Romanian word “decret”, meaning decree. Ceaușescu announced, “The fetus is the property of the entire society … Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity.”

After the decree, birth rates rose significantly from 1967 to 1969 to catastrophic numbers. Coupled with Romania’s poverty, this policy meant that more and more unwanted children were turned over to state orphanages. There, they were subjected to institutionalized neglect, sexual abuse, and indiscriminate injections to ‘control behavior.’

By the end of the 20th century, over 10,000 institutionalized children were living with AIDS due to neglect and failure to sterilize medical instruments. “Children suffered from inadequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, lack of stimulation or education, and neglect,” a report by nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch stated.

Disabled children suffered even worse conditions and treatment. Many were malnourished, diseased, tied to their own beds or dangerously restrained in their own clothing. When Western psychologists entered the mix in the 1990s, they noted stunning developmental problems in institutionalized orphans. Their traumatic experiences served a tragic experiment, showing what happens to children denied normal human relationships.

Brain Development

The Bucharest Early Intervention Project launched a 12-year study following 136 infants and children who had been abandoned in Romanian institutions. They discovered institutionalized children more slowly acquired language skills. They also lacked problem-solving and reasoning skills, compared to children raised in foster homes. Moreover, the study noted the brains of institutionalized children were smaller and they had lower IQs. Similarly, they had increased rates of psychiatric disorders, particularly emotional disorders like anxiety and depression. Institutionalized children also displayed abnormal social development. This supported the theory of a ‘sensitive period’ of acquisition–the narrow time frame for the development of particular skills to occur.

“For children being raised in any kind of adversity, the sooner you can get them into an adequate caregiving environment, the better their chances are for developing normally,” says Charles Zeanah, a principal BEIP investigator. Unfortunately, adopted Romanian orphans are still suffering in adulthood to this day.

Romanian Orphanages Today

Today, only one-third of Romania’s children are housed in residential homes maintained by the state.  Historically, Romanian orphanages had little to no recourse. Today, there are a few different ways they can receive the tender love and care they deserve.

Many of the problems today can still be traced back to Ceausescu. In aiming to create a race of Romanian worker bees, his policies precipitated the abandonment of thousands of children each year. Because parents could not afford to raise children, the state orphanage system grew. Many parents believed the state could better take care of their children. And unfortunately, such a mentality, especially among the poor, remains today.

The majority of Romanian children in the state system are in foster care. The state pays Romanian foster parents a salary to rear children. There are also ‘family-type’ homes, where five or six children grow up together. In regards to the more problematic, remaining institutional buildings–called placement centers–the government has made a public commitment to close them all by 2020.

Ultimately, many countries in Eastern Europe are fighting to decrease their orphans and orphanages. In Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, the orphanage population has dropped from 11,000 to 2,000 since 2011. In Georgia, the number of state-run orphanages dropped from 50 to two. Additionally, Bulgaria has focused its reforms on children with disabilities, finding family-style care for all in state institutions.

While it was once the region with the highest rate of children in orphanages, Eastern Europe leads the movement to empty them today.

William Cozens
Photo: National Archives of Romania

Child Labor in MyanmarChild labor in Myanmar continues to be a concern for one of the poorest nations in Asia. It is estimated that 1.13 million children, ages 5 through 17 work as laborers in Myanmar. This amounts to 9.3 percent of the child population. Said conditions are a violation of human rights and deprivation of well being.

Impact of Poverty

The prime factor of involvement of children in the workforce is poverty. With more than 32 percent of the nation living below the national poverty line, children work to supplement low household incomes.

However, employers exploit children and pay extremely low rates. In some cases, children as young as 14, working in garment-producing factories, make as little as 17  cents per hour; Yet, the nation’s minimum wage is $3.60.

Government Involvement in Child Trafficking

In August 2017, it was estimated 690,000 people fled from Myanmar due to acts of violence caused by the Myanmar government. Of those, nearly 400,000 were children.

In Myanmar, there is an abundance of trafficking, with little to no intervention. Frequently, the displacement of young girls to China is due to trafficking, for work, or marriage to Chinese men as child brides.

Additionally, Myanmar also has the highest number of child soldiers globally. In these cases, young boys against their will have to comply with captor commands. These commands are in sync with militarization goals and tactics.

Impact of Child Labor

One prominent consequence of child labor in Myanmar is the lack of education among children. One in five children drops out of school in order to work. In Myanmar culture, it is socially acceptable and common to see children working, rather than in school. Also, children who are in the workforce usually have little awareness, nor education about their safety and health rights in the workplace, leading to a high risk of fatal injuries.

The agricultural industry employs 60.5 percent of children in the workforce. Construction and fellow small-scale industries also have a significant role in employing child laborers. Just over half of these children perform potentially hazardous work that is likely to harm their physical or psychological health. Children as young as 15 to 17 make up 74.6 percent of the child workforce exposed to hazardous jobs.

The Intervention of Child Trafficking in Myanmar

Although child labor in Myanmar is widespread, the government of Myanmar is addressing this issue with the support of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The Myanmar Program on the Elimination of Child Labor Project was a four-year program (2013-2017) funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, overseen by the ILO. The goals of this project were to increase awareness of children in the workforce while improving the legal and institutional laws concerning child labor.

The Myanmar government ratified the ILO Convention No.182 which prohibits the worst forms of childhood labor and is in the process of finalizing the country’s first National Action Plan. This proposal outlines ways to reduce child labor in Myanmar while improving the lives of the children all together.

Child labor in Myanmar is a prominent issue as it affects millions of lives. There is, however, a reason to be optimistic, as the Myanmar government and fellow organizations have begun prevention protocols, ensuring a better future for the children of Myanmar.

– Marissa Pekular

 

Photo: Flickr

Aid to IndonesiaIndonesia is no stranger to natural disasters; it has experienced a lot of destruction throughout the years. A major natural disaster occurs in Indonesia almost every year in the form of tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Christian organizations are planted internationally in order to minister and bring aid to those in need. World Vision Ministry is one such organization that has been in Indonesia since 1960. Here is a look at World Vision’s aid to Indonesia.

World Vision’s Foundation

World Vision in Indonesia is based on a vision of a world that is committed to the well-being of children. The organization strives to build thriving communities where peace and justice can prevail with security, opportunity and contentment. This is accomplished through its relief, development and advocacy work. World Vision has become one of the world’s largest charities with annual revenue reaching more than $1 billion. It has ministries in 90 countries, focusing on children.

In the 1970s, World Vision Indonesia initiated a community development approach that provides more integrated support toward the empowerment of the poor communities and their children. Its involvement improved basic education, health, income generation and basic infrastructure for Indonesia. In 1998, World Vision raised 14 million to aid the poor in Jakarta, Indonesia. As a global humanitarian organization, World Vision’s ministry is dedicated to continuous aid to Indonesia whether it be a food crisis or assistance to victims of natural disasters.

Programs to Empower

According to the ministry, World Vision introduced the Area Development Program (ADP) approach in the 1990s to create an effective and lasting transformation in the lives of people in poor communities. The organization describes the ADPs as nurturing an inclusive approach to tackle poverty across extensive areas, normally involving several villages and communities. World Vision’s aid to Indonesia through the ADP approach has led to more sustainable developments and impacts through longer intervention and lifetime concentrated programs.

Today, World Vision has a partnership with Wahana Visi Indonesia, which supports around 50 ADPs in aid to Indonesia’s North Sumatra, Jakarta, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku and Papua. World Vision in Indonesia has helped to save lives in many ways, but it is most effective in its emergency response.

Emergency Relief and Support

World Vision has administered emergency relief support to those affected by natural disasters or communal conflicts for many years. In 1963, World Vision supported the victims of Mount Agung eruption in Bali and then provided aid to Indonesia in the resettlement of displaced people in West Kalimantan, Maluku among other sites in the 1970-80s. The ministry remained Indonesia in 1997 and 2009 following the drought from the El Nino weather phenomenon, severe economic crises, earthquakes and the major tsunami in Aceh province.

In December 2018, World Vision provided aid to Indonesia when the Sunda Strait tsunami struck Java and Sumatra, resulting in more than 300 deaths. The ministry distributed hygiene and household items to families who lost their homes and provided safe places for mothers to feed their young children.

Margie Siregar, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director with World Vision, spoke with NPR’s Ari Shapiro while she was in Jakarta, Indonesia. “We had 30 aid staff already in the place before the earthquake happened and now we are providing some public kitchen and children feeding,” Siregar told NPR. The workers of World Vision also provided the children with a child-friendly space where they could play and recover from the trauma. In Central Sulawesi, an estimated 460,000 children in four districts were affected according to World Vision Indonesia.

Combatting Poverty

Each fiscal year, World Vision raises around $20 million from donors and sponsors in various countries to combat poverty and bring lasting transformation in the lives of the children to facilitate their communities. In 2018, 86 percent of World Vision’s total operating expenses went to aid Indonesia by establishing programs that benefited children, families and communities in poverty.

Parents in Indonesia are being empowered to care for their children through education on child protection and disaster risk reduction thanks to World Vision’s aid to Indonesia. Those who are interested in aiding the families affected by the recent tsunami may donate to World Vision’s Indonesia tsunami relief fund.

Carolina Chaves
Photo: Flickr

Improving Child LiteracyChild literacy is often taken for granted, but around the world, millions are growing up without the ability to read or write. What many do not realize is that literacy has a direct effect on poverty. According to a study conducted by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization, there are links between illiteracy and higher unemployment. The study also found that illiterate adults are more susceptible to illnesses, exploitation, lower pay, and human rights abuses.

The inability to read or write is a self-perpetuating cycle because it traps illiterate communities in poverty without the tools to help themselves out. These conditions make illiterate communities more at risk of violence and conflict. In fact, 40 percent of illiterate children live in countries with active conflicts. The issue prompted the United Nations to launch the International Literacy Decade in 2003, which has taught around 90 million people to read and write. Despite this effort, there are still millions of vulnerable children around the world that need assistance to escape illiteracy and its negative consequences. There are many organizations dedicated to improving child literacy rates and these are just three NGOs working hard to bring education to the world.

3 NGOs Improving Child Literacy Across the Globe

  • Room to Read: Room to Read is an NGO founded in 1998 that began its work in Nepal. Room to Read’s vision is to improve literacy and access to literature in low-income communities, with a special focus on gender equality in education. The NGO has now spread all over Southeast Asia and Africa and has benefited around 16.6 million children worldwide. The NGO has distributed 24.1 million books, trained 15,285 librarians and teachers, and has partnered with 30,337 schools to implement its literacy program. In addition to the literacy program, Room to Read also has a specific program for girl’s education which aims to close the gender gap in classrooms of developing countries. Room to Read has received many commendations, most recently receiving a perfect “four stars” rating from Charity Navigator for the thirteenth year in a row.
  • World Literacy Foundation: The World Literacy Foundation was founded in 2003 with the guiding mission to provide books, tutoring and literacy tools to children in communities that otherwise would not have access to these resources. WLF began transporting books to Africa in 2005 and shortly after developed low-cost eBooks that could be distributed in local languages. In 2016 WLF designed and implemented “Sun Books”, which are solar powered tablets that bring educational books to classrooms in Uganda without electricity or the internet. In 2014, WLF ran the first World Literary Summit to increase cooperation with other literacy organizations. Since then, the summit has been held in 2016, 2018 and is scheduled again for 2020. So far, WLF has been active in more than 93 countries, has provided access to literacy resources to 250,101 children, and last year alone reached more than 350,000 children and adolescents.
  • Pratham: Pratham was founded in 1995 in Mumbai, India with the goal of having “every child in school and learning well.” Pratham is one of the largest NGOs in India, operating in 21 out of 29 Indian states and with volunteers in 300,000 Indian villages. Its mission is to improve literacy and the quality of education in India by supplementing government efforts and supporting teachers and parents. Pratham’s lead program, Read India, was launched in 2007 and has reached more than 30 million children. The program also provided training for around 61,000 teachers to improve literacy all across the country. Pratham has been a strong advocate for education reform to improve basic competencies like reading, writing, and arithmetic in Indian school children. Several state governments use Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Reports to plan yearly education programs. In 2013 Pratham was named one of the top 100 NGOs in The Global Journal for their pioneering work in primary and literacy education in India.

There are still 124 million children and adolescents that are not enrolled in school and one in four children in developing countries is illiterate. Tackling child and adult illiteracy is no easy task but it is NGOs like Room to Read, WLF and Pratham that are making big strides in closing the literacy gap. By providing training and resources to the neediest communities, these three NGOs provide disadvantaged children the fundamental tools needed to escape poverty.

– Isabel Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

Vaccines in Egypt On March 14, 2019, the vaccination company Pfizer, in partnership with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance reduced the price of the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV) to $2.90 per dose for eligible countries. Gavi’s mission since 2000 has been to “improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries”. Public and private sectors fund the creation and distribution of important vaccines in 73 developing countries partnered with Gavi.

The Benefit of Price Drops

In 2017, the price of a single dose PCV was $3.30. However, as a result of negotiations between Pfizer and Gavi there have been three pneumococcal vaccine price drops since January 2017. It is expected to save developing countries $4.1 million this year. Dr. Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi says “pneumonia remains the single largest cause of death for children worldwide and [the] pneumococcal vaccine is one of our largest weapons against it”. The price drop comes at a pivotal time.

PCV is a Priority

PCV takes as long as 15 years to reach developing countries that need it the most. Whereas the vaccine is already easily accessible and widespread in industrialized nations. Vaccines have not been easily accessible in developing nations. They are expensive and difficult to distribute effectively in nations lacking funds and resources. The focus is on different areas. For example, the proportion of developing countries’ exports that is needed to service their overseas debt rose from 11 percent in 1970 to 18 percent in 1996, while overseas aid from the U.S. plummeted $14 billion. With the drop in PCV pricing, developing countries can invest in their public health.

The value of vaccines as a long-term investment for developing countries is leading to pneumococcal vaccine price drops. Vaccinating the youth population of developing countries, according to Gavi, creates a “virtuous cycle”.

The Cycle Follows This Order of Cause and Effect

  • Children have vaccines before the age of two
  • These children are likely to be healthier and live longer
  • Children have fewer and less serious illnesses
  • This leads to lower care costs for health systems and family
  • Which means more family money available to spend or save
  • Children will attend school more, fueling better outcomes
  • A family’s economic outlook will strengthen based on these outcomes
  • Birth rates drop and mother’s health improves
  • A community becomes more economically stable and productive
  • Contributing to politically and economically stable countries

By looking at the cost-benefit analyses for vaccinations, scientists are able to see this “virtuous cycle” in action. A study, conducted by the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey in 1975, took data from a sample of Filipino children. Researchers compared test scores of children who received six vaccines in their first two years versus those that did not. The study reveals the association of immunization with improved IQ scores, language and mathematics tests. Untreated childhood illness can impair cognitive development.

Developing countries often have large obstacles to face such as food scarcity, a lack of widespread education and low GDPs. Investing in vaccines is a long-term solution that will benefit the economic, health, societal and governmental sectors of these nations. With the pneumococcal vaccine price drops, this seems to be an attainable reality for developing countries.

– Meredith Breda
Photo: Flickr

Child laborChild labor affects 150 million children worldwide. Child labor can take many forms, but the most common is defined as strenuous and dangerous work that is carried out by a child and does not abide by national and international child labor legislation. Many of these children are deprived of education, proper nutrition and a childhood without sports or playtime. Keep reading to learn more about the top 15 child labor facts everyone needs to know.

15 Child Labor Facts Everyone Needs to Know

  1. The agricultural industry makes up 71 percent of child labor in the world. Agricultural labor can include but is not limited to forestry, subsistence and commercial farming, fishing and livestock herding. Children may have to work on farms in long, unbearable heat.
  2. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 73 million of the 152 million children being forced into child labor are experiencing hazardous labor. Ages between 15 and 17 years old make up 24 percent of child labor and experience more hazardous forms of labor than other age groups.
  3. More than half of child labor around the world is found in Africa. One in five African children is subject to child labor. Between 2012 and 2016, there was no reduction in child labor in Africa although there was some improvement in other areas of the world. Areas with more conflicts and disaster are more likely to experience child labor.
  4. In Africa, 85 percent of child labor is in the agricultural sector. The service sector is responsible for eight million children working, and about two million are working in the industry sectors.
  5. The ages of child laborers range from five to 17 years old. However, the majority of child labor comes from the ages of five to 11 years old. Children ages 12 to 14 years old make up about 28 percent.
  6. There is a large gender gap between girls and boys regarding child labor. Eighty-eight million boys are affected by child labor worldwide, but about 20 million fewer girls are affected by child labor.
  7. Two-thirds of all children in child labor go unpaid.
  8. Research has found that housework and chores are often neglected when children are involved in child labor. However, girls between the ages of five and 14 years old account for more than 21 hours of chore labor every week.
  9. Alliance 8.7 and UNICEF are backing the goal of Target 8.7 in regards to 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Target 8.7 concentrates on measures to reduce all child labor, child slavery and human trafficking worldwide. The organization hopes to end child labor by 2025.
  10. Child labor greatly affects education and children staying in school. Thirty-six million children are not getting an education because of child labor. For those children who do go to school and work, their work still affects their performance and ability to succeed in school.
  11. Although African countries lead with the highest rates of child labor, Asia and the Pacific have 62 million child laborers. The ILO reported that other countries, such as the Americas, have about 10 million child laborers, and the Arab states have the lowest with 1.2 million children.
  12. Two-thirds of children are employed by their families and their companies. But, only 4 percent of those children are paid. The remaining one-third of children working is left to work for third parties.
  13. Children in the age range between 15 and 17 years-old are above the minimum age to work. Even though these children are not young children, they are often actively engaging with work that can affect their health.
  14. Child labor has many circumstances surrounding and affecting it, such as poverty, migration, emergencies and social norms.
  15. Since 2000, child labor for girls has dropped 40 percent and for boys has dropped 25 percent. In addition, there are 136 million children fewer children being affected by child labor around the world.

The 15 child labor facts presented show that children are still being affected by child labor around the world. While organizations such as UNICEF, International Labor Organization, the Human Rights Watch and Alliance 8.7 are working towards eradicating child labor, it still is an issue that is affecting our world.

– Logan Derbes

Photo: Pixabay

Biggest Slum in Kenya
Known to many as the largest urban slum in all of Africa, Kibera is a community of 250,000 people in Nairobi, Kenya without regular access to clean water or electricity. This slum is rife with disease and the abuse of drugs and alcohol is common. In Kibera, the biggest slum in Kenya, artistic expression and the creation of art is not a priority and seldom is it even an option. The Uweza Art Gallery is changing that.

The Uweza Foundation

Jennifer Sapitro, an American entrepreneur, created the Uweza Foundation in 2008. The foundation funded and opened a community center for the people of Kibera. Sapitro gained inspiration from the artwork at the center and opened the Uweza Art Gallery in 2013. Alongside the art gallery, the foundation provides a variety of programs for Kibera’s youth, such as soccer and a female empowerment program. The goal in establishing the creative hub of the Uweza Art Gallery was to give the youth of Kibera an opportunity to develop their talents, a means of expression through art and access to economic opportunity.

The Uweza Art Gallery

The Uweza Art Gallery provides materials and space for Kibera’s young artists to express themselves and create artwork. The youth are also in charge of marketing their art at the gallery, which is located in an old shipping container, a testimony to the scarcity of proper institutions and resources in Kibera.

The way this gallery works is that 60 percent of the money from a sold item goes back to the artist and the other 40 percent goes to the gallery in order to fund more art supplies and pay the rent. If the artist is under 18 years of age, the gallery allocates the money they make from selling their art for their schooling. If they are over 18, the gallery utilizes the money to pay for whatever the artist may need, such as food or water.

Thanks to the Uweza Art Gallery, many artists over the age of 18 are able to fully support themselves through sales. In addition, this creative space hosts free art classes twice a week for Kibera’s youth. Children as young as five years old go to the art gallery to participate in learning the basic skills of art. As they continue attending the classes, the gallery prompts them to paint their own artwork. Once they become more advanced in their art and they have learned the necessary skills, the gallery encourages them to become a part of the gallery and to continue painting in order to sell. They also take trips outside of the slum to visit museums and art galleries.

This program is significant because not only does it give artists in Kibera a means of expression, but also gives them a chance to be economically self-sufficient. This is so important because it can be the ladder that gives them access to climb out of the dark hole that is poverty. The more successful they are selling their art, the better their chances are at overcoming poverty. The art they make can financially contribute to a better lifestyle.

Another way that the Uweza Art Gallery is beneficial to Kibera is that even though it is based in the biggest slum in Kenya, the art is easily accessible to buyers around the world. Artwork created by people living in slums helps to spread global awareness of the problems these individuals encounter. Living in Kibera presents a lot of adversity, but the Uweza Art Gallery is a creative hub that is a beacon of hope for the people of this slum in Kenya.

– Paula Bouza
Photo: Flickr

How early childhood education in Kenya could combat lifelong povertyThere is no one cure for poverty and no way to guarantee that a child will have a successful future, but a good education is a solid start. Poverty is especially bad in Kenya where 42 percent of residents live below the poverty line. A new program in Kenya is testing a model that would prepare young children for school and ultimately prepare them to be successful adults. Early childhood education in Kenya may prove crucial for the success of young Kenyans since such programs have been proven to help children worldwide.

The Tayari Program

In 2014, Kenya introduced a new pilot program for children aged four to six who were enrolled in both public and private education. The program, named “Tayari” after the Kiswahili word for “readiness,” is a “cost-effective, scalable” program with three facets to prepare young children for successful educations. It includes a learning model to help children gain mathematical, reading and even emotional development skills. Teachers receive specific training, guides and materials. In addition to specific teaching styles and a rigid curriculum, children are taught about healthy eating and personal hygiene, specifically the importance of handwashing.

Understanding the actual significance of the program is crucial, which is why Moses Ngware, a senior research scientist at the African Population and Health Research Centre, conducted extensive research on Tayari. His team looked at the impact, cost and scalability of the program. Using randomized controls, they found that students had a three-month advantage over their classmates who were not part of the program. They also found that improving a student’s scores 8 percentage points through Tayari only cost policymakers about $7 per year.

The program addresses important shortcomings within the education system in Kenya, such as “ inadequate provision of age-appropriate and context relevant quality teaching and learning materials.” There is also a shortage of teachers who can guide their students in the classroom. The program was found to be so successful in Kenyan classrooms that it has the potential to change lives throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. While the research is overwhelmingly positive, more data and more time in the program is necessary to know its ultimate effects. The program, like its learners, is still very young.

Education and Poverty Reduction

Improving a child’s chance for a good education is always a good thing, but it could be worth something even more. Could early access to the skills needed to succeed in school lead to a better life in terms of income and wealth? The data shows that early childhood programs and education are already part of strategies to alleviate poverty because of its success rates.

A study in Ypsilanti, Michigan found that at-risk children who were placed in a pilot preschool program achieved greater success than the control group. By 19, they possessed a better economic potential and had better social skills. By 27, they had fewer arrests and higher incomes. The older these children got, the more noticeable their academic and economic achievements were when compared to the control group.

The Carolina Abecedarian Project is one of the oldest programs in this field.  Originally conducted between 1972 and 1985 in North Carolina, the comprehensive early education program was for young children at risk for developmental delays and dropping out of school. Not only did participants do better academically than their control peers, but as adults, they had significantly higher incomes, were more likely to have been “consistently employed” and less likely to engage in criminal behavior. The program was so successful that the organization rolled it out to other states and it is now international.

Early childhood programs are not going to eliminate poverty, but by giving children the social and academic skills needed to better succeed at life, they’re offering a real foundation upon which to build future success. Tayari, the program for early childhood education in Kenya, is cheap, easy to roll out and may really help the poorest of Kenya, maybe even the poorest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sarah Stanley

Photo: Unsplash