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Sugira MuryangoAround the world, the effects of poverty negatively impact childhood development in more than 200 million children. Child development outcomes play a key part in a country’s advancement and the state of the economy. The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains, “Children living in compounded adversity face increased risks of poor child development outcomes and emotional and behavioral problems that can perpetuate a cycle of poverty and violence.” However, in 2016, the implementation of an innovative home-visiting intervention program in Rwanda called Sugira Muryango is fighting to break these cycles.

Violence and Intergenerational Poverty

In past studies, social programs aimed toward child development have been more focused on mothers of the households. However, the developers of Sugira Muryango (researchers at Boston College’s School of Social Work and the nonprofit FXB Rwanda) chose to implement this program to focus more on the father’s role within the household and child’s life.

Rwanda is a key place to evaluate this program due to the persistent household violence and gender roles within Rwandan society. Traditionally, Rwandan society has held few expectations for fathers within the household. However, a positive male figure plays an important role in a child’s developmental outcomes.

The data of some surveys taken in Rwanda by Promundo and the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre on masculinity and gender-based violence convey shocking truths. The surveys reported that 73% of men and 82% of women agreed with the statement, “a woman’s most important role is to take care of her home” and 44% of men and 54% of women agreed that “a woman should tolerate violence in order to keep her family together.” Lastly, 45% of men saw their dads beat their moms in childhood and 38% of those men became violent toward their own partners in adulthood. Men who witnessed violence at home as children were more likely to perpetuate it, indicating that children emulate behavior, both positive and negative.

Methods Used in the Sugira Muryango Program

As a response to this violence, Sugira Muryango was implemented as a home-visiting intervention program that targets the poorest households with young children (aged between 6 months and 26 months) in Rwanda. The program offers coaching to caregivers of the household in order to teach parents, specifically fathers, positive caregiving practices, nutrition skills, hygiene skills and basic involvement.

The program uses methods of home visits and caregiving coaching in order to improve family relations. The family-based model aims to encourage responsive and positive interactions as well as discourage violence and harsh punishment. In providing this coaching through these methods, it is possible to improve not only parent-child relations but also child development outcomes. With these improved outcomes, Rwanda should see improvements as the children reach adulthood and in breaking the cyclical poverty which should then improve Rwanda’s general development as a country. 

The Impacts of the Program in Rwanda

Not only did the results of the program aid in the decrease of violence within Rwandan homes but it also helped improve mental health rates among Rwandan fathers. Furthermore, reports indicate changes in parents’ behaviors towards the child, including responsive care and play, dietary diversity, care-seeking for child health problems and reduced family violence.

Potential Global Impacts

The Sugira Muryango program is playing an important role in breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty within Rwanda. Although the lasting effects of this program need to be studied as the children grow, the immediate effects have aided in reducing violence and improving family relationships. If integrated into other low to middle-income communities and countries, the overall effects should be promising in breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty on a global scale.

– Caroline Dunn
Photo: Flickr

Education and poverty crisis in SudanOver three million children in Sudan do not attend school. The severe gap in the education system continues the cycle of poverty in the country. Chronic underdevelopment and conflict are two of the most significant reasons children in Sudan are out of school. Girls face additional hurdles such as cultural pressures and traditional views that prevent them from receiving an education. While 76% of primary age children attend school, in secondary, the number drops drastically to 28%. The Sudanese government and organizations such as UNICEF have stepped in to resolve the education and poverty crisis in Sudan.

The Education Crisis in Sudan

In South and East Darfur, there are 7,315 employed teachers, 3,692 of which are unqualified. In essence, half of the teachers that are employed in South and East Darfur are unqualified. Furthermore, many teachers in Sudan were  found to be “untrained, under supervised and unequally distributed between rural and urban areas.” Not only do schools often have teachers who are unqualified but the curriculum lacks active learning and teaching materials are either outdated or nonexistent.

The Relationship Between Education and Poverty

In their haste to escape poverty, people drop out of school in search of employment so that they can provide for themselves and their families. While a higher education often proves fruitful in finding a good-paying job, those in poverty do not have time to wait. Without an education, people living in poverty lack literacy and numeracy skills which are needed to advance in the working world. This cycle is repeated generation after generation, inextricably linking education and poverty.

Families living in this cycle of poverty often make the choice for their children, otherwise, they will not be able to provide food, water or shelter. And while some schools may be free of cost, the added costs of uniforms, books and supplies must be taken into consideration.

While poverty may have a negative effect on education, education has an increasingly positive effect on poverty. Proper education will increase one’s skill set and open the door to a world of new employment opportunities and increase the potential for higher income. With each additional year of schooling, earnings increase by about 10%. And for every dollar invested in an additional year of schooling “earnings increase by $5 in low-income countries and $2.5 in lower-middle-income countries.” UNESCO found that if all adults had two more years of schooling or completed secondary school, nearly 60 million people could escape poverty and 420 million could be lifted out of poverty, respectively.

Improving Education in the Region

The Federal Ministry of Education will implement nine strategies to improve the education and poverty crisis in Sudan. Based on these strategies, the following has been projected for the years 2018-2023: pre-school coverage will increase by 19%, basic education by 16% and secondary education by 7%.

Sudan will invest in enrollment programs and work to retain those already enrolled. The government will expand opportunities for education at every level to ensure that students do not drop out due to a lack of space. And in collaboration with global partners, the Federal Ministry of Education will work toward quality education that is accessible to all.

UNICEF’s Educational Efforts

By 2021, UNICEF intends to provide more children with the opportunity to have a quality education starting at a young age, in a learning environment that is inclusive and safe.

The organization will work with communities, parents, teachers and children to promote a socially cohesive atmosphere that even the most vulnerable of children can access. The Learning and Development Programme and the Ministries of Education will advocate for evidence-based surveys, field reports, community discussions and evaluations to mold policy reform in favor of inclusion. UNICEF and its partners will ensure the safety of schools by providing water, health and sanitation facilities. Additionally, children will be taught the proper behaviors surrounding health, nutrition and child protection. Schools will receive the support needed to ensure schools are free of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.

The undeniable education and poverty crisis in Sudan has prevented most people from achieving a proper education and reaching their true earning potential. While most agree that education is important, many Sudanese people find that it is a luxury outweighed by life’s bare necessities. With the five-year plan developed by the Federal Ministry of Education and the help of organizations like UNICEF, the toxic cycle between education and poverty will come to an end.

– Mary Qualls
Photo: Flickr

Transforming Education in South SudanAround 1.8 million children in South Sudan are not in school; the majority of children are utilized for manual work to provide for their families. This prevents millions of children, especially young girls, from receiving an adequate education. As the world’s youngest country, South Sudan struggles with many pressing issues, such as an unstable political environment and scarce food access. However, the need for educational reform grows increasingly urgent every day. These inadequate educational circumstances can be attributed to many years of war that left behind devastating conditions for the country and its civilians. However, organizations have committed to transforming education in South Sudan.

The Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART)

Founded in 2004, HART exists to help countries suffering from national conflicts that are not typically served by major aid organizations. A significant amount of its aid is directed toward South Sudan and the country’s unfavorable education status. In its 2020 report, the organization emphasized how many leaders in South Sudan are unable to access funds from large-scale donors. In response to this, the organization stresses that donating funds for essential services in South Sudan should take top priority, especially education funds, considering the substantial number of children displaced from normal learning environments. The organization works directly with partners in South Sudan to get problems solved through direct communication. 

According to HART, a girl raised in South Sudan is more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than complete her primary education. More than two million children are not in school, which is the worst number the country has seen yet. If these rates continue, the future generation of South Sudan will not be equipped with the skills that come from an educational background, which also statistically places them as more likely to fall into generational poverty. Organizations such as HART use advocacy as the strongest tool. By bringing light to these startling statistics, it hopes to educate the public on the dire need to allocate funds to South Sudan and reform the educational system through donations.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF has been a global leader in transforming education in South Sudan, as it provides funds for classroom materials and teacher training. A primary focus is to intervene in South Sudanese communities to emphasize the importance of educating their children. The organization understands that when children are educated, it benefits not only them but the entirety of the country.

However, learning in South Sudan has been extremely different since the start of COVID-19 as roughly 1.5 million children have been learning through radio lessons instead of the traditional classrooms. In 2020 alone, UNICEF provided over 40,000 radio sets to be distributed to underprivileged children who do not have access to radios in their homes. Amid these unconventional education times, UNICEF continues to deliver essential services to benefit learning in remote locations under the Government of South Sudan’s “Back to School Initiative”. At the end of 2020, UNICEF plans to have provided 729,000 out of school children in crisis access to education.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

The Global Partnership for Education has been partnered with South Sudan since 2012. It emphasizes the high demands placed on the education system in South Sudan’s national plans. The General Education Strategic Plan (GESP), developed by the Ministry of General Education and Instruction of South Sudan, lays out situation analyses, policy frameworks, implementation structures and financing plans. However, there is insufficient public expenditure to cover these projects. In fact, South Sudan possesses one of the lowest education funds in the world. 

The GPE recognizes this need for funding and believes in the vision of The General Education Strategic Plan. In March of 2020, the GPE gifted $7 million in support of the Ministry of Education’s learning plan in response to COVID-19. In particular, the grant goes to support guidelines and policies in place to reopen schools in South Sudan. Other focal points revolve around awareness campaigns on COVID-19 prevention, remote learning materials for students, radio programs for at-home learning, hygiene facilities and back to school campaigns. As the GPE continues backing The General Education Strategic Plan, there is an expected expansion of secondary and technical education and institutionalizing teacher training within the next three years. 

The Need for Improved Education

Right now, over 80% of the South Sudanese population live on less than a dollar per day. In the middle of a humanitarian crisis, many basic necessities fail to be met for this vulnerable population. An increasing urgency around transforming education in South Sudan has caused an abundance of organizations to take a special interest in reforming the education system in the world’s youngest country. While the road to a prospering education system is still long, South Sudan is taking substantial steps toward a better future for its children with the help of humanitarian organizations.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Flickr

Suaahara II ProjectIn Nepal, 36% of children who are under the age of five remain underdeveloped in terms of growth and health despite progress in recent years. Through cooperation with USAID, the Nepalese Government and local private sector groups, Hellen Keller International (HKI) has provided impactful services that have helped rectify the systematic obstacles causing these health issues. Hellen Keller International is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce malnutrition. The Suaahara II project takes a pivotal role in these efforts.

What is the Suaahara II Project?

One of HKI’s most notable services is the Suaahara II project, which started in 2016 and was initially set to end in 2021. However, it will now extend to March 2023 due to COVID-19. Operating in 42 of Nepal’s districts with a $63 million budget, HKI partnered with these six organizations for the project:

  • Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE)
  • Family Health International 360 (FHI 360)
  • Environmental and Public Health Organization (ENPHO)
  • Equal Access Nepal (EAN)
  • Nepali Technical Assistance Group (NTAG)
  • Vijaya Development Resource Center (VDRC)

Hellen Keller International’s primary role in the Suaahara II project deals with the technical assistance of child and maternal nutrition. This means that its tasks are oriented around building the skills and knowledge of health workers. This includes teaching health workers how to adequately measure and evaluate assessments; additionally, another technical facet relies on promoting governance that invests in nutrition.

A Multi-Sectoral Approach

Kenda Cunningham, a senior technical adviser for Suaahara II who works under HKI, told The Borgen Project that the Suaahara II consortium has taken a “multi-sectoral approach.” She believes in the importance of this as it pushes individuals to “learn and think beyond their sector.” The Suaahara II Project’s demonstrates its integrated strategy in the initiatives below:

  1. The WASH program focuses on water, sanitation and hygiene through WASHmarts, which are small shops dispersed across districts that sell sanitary products like soap and reusable sanitary pads. Kenda explained how this has helped “bridge a gap” so that poorer households can access hygiene enhancing products. This also allows assistance from private actors, who can expand their markets in rural areas.
  2. The Homestead Food Production program (HFP) encourages households to grow and produce micronutrient-rich foods through vegetable gardening and raising chickens, for example. As a result, 35 districts have institutionalized HFP groups.
  3. The Bhancchin Aama Radio Program is a phone-in radio program that runs twice every week. It hosts discussions among marginalized communities and demonstrations for cooking nutritious foods. It has encouraged the Nepalese to socially and behaviorally alter their health habits.

Advancements from Suaahara I

The Suaahara II project’s contribution to improved health and nutrition in Nepal is also illustrated in its progression from the Suaahara I project’s framework. In addition to understanding the changes made in household systems and at a policy level from Suaahara I, Cunningham told The Borgen Project that technological developments have elevated the Suaahara II Project’s impact in Nepal.

Specifically, smartphones expedite the data collection process when studying trends pertaining to the 2 million households across the districts. The development of new apps provided more households with access to smartphones and key information. This therefore allowed officers to transition from pursuing “a mother-child focus to a family focus” in terms of the Suaahara II project’s accommodations and services.

Challenges with Suaahara II

While the Suaahara II Project has led to institutional and social enhancements regarding health and nutrition, some districts had access to the project earlier. This created a dissonance in the rate of health improvements amongst the districts. Cunningham reported that “far western areas are much more remote and therefore disadvantaged and food insecure.”

This inconsistency was largely due to the “Federalism” that took place in Nepal in 2017, which was a decentralization process that created 42 municipalities for 42 districts. Since every municipality has a different political leader, some districts had the advantage of assistance from foreign NGOs while others did not because their leaders rejected involving foreign NGOs. In these cases, as Cunningham explained, it is like “you are creating your own NGOs from the ground up.”

Suaahara II Achievements

These obstacles, however, have not been pertinent enough to counter the consortium’s efforts in fulfilling the Suaahara II project’s objectives. For example, a primary objective for Suaahra II is to increase breastfeeding amongst babies under six months of age. Exclusive breastfeeding of children under six has increased from 62.9% in 2017 to 68.9% in 2019, according to data that Cunningham shared with The Borgen Project.

Expanding children’s access to diverse and nutritious foods is another objective that has been achieved under the Suaahara II project. The dietary diversity among women of reproductive age (WRA) has increased from 35.6% in 2017 to 45.3% in 2019, according to Cunningham. Given the efficient rate of improvement in women and children’s health, governance and equity in only the first two years of the Suaahara II project, it can be inferred that the consortium will continue to progress in achieving its targets among the Nepalese in the three years that remain.

Regarding how HKI has responded to challenges with the Suaahara II project, Cunningham said  “[We] don’t use a one size fits all approach.” The advancements in Nepal’s health and nutrition systems can be largely attributed to HKI’s multifaceted and integrated strategy, a model that could yield prosperity in the rest of the developing world.

Joy Arkeh
Photo: Flickr

Education and Indian ChildrenOver 100,000 schools and just as many teachers deliver education in even the most traditionally unreachable, rural parts of India because of one foundation. Ekal Vidyalaya, a nonprofit originally inspired by social research and activism, recognizes the paramount goal of establishing educational access for every child in rural India and approaches it directly. Inspired and built in the 1980s, Ekal Vidyalaya conducts multinational fundraising, transforms nontraditional school models into working solutions and impacts the lives of nearly 2.8 million students through its efforts. Bringing education and Indian children without teachers and schools together is a fundamental pillar of the Ekal mission, which transcends borders in an impassioned quest to substantively create change.

Ekal Vidyalaya: Mission and History

Ekal Vidyalaya’s mission is to raise up schools and rural communities with “basic education, digital literacy, skill development, health awareness and rural entrepreneurship” in unison with farming maximization efforts that are taught. These wide-ranging, self-identified aspects of the organization’s mission reflect some of the initial issues that Ekal Vidyalaya, even before it was known as such, identified. Dr. Rakesh Kumar Popli and Dr. Rajneesh Arora, among others who were analytically evaluating regions in India in order to determine areas of concern, partnered with other leading scientists and activists of the time in order to raise awareness towards educational discrepancies and other health and social issues. Over time, education and Indian children became focal points of an effort that became known as Ekal Vidyalaya and refining steps brought the ancillary and primary systems of aid into reality.

Ekal Vidyalaya’s Methodology and Goals

In order to make progress on its significant goals, Ekal Vidyalaya relies on donations, volunteerism and community outreach. The name itself is a direct reference to the impact structure: one-teacher schools are essentially called Ekal Vidyalayas and they are the way that the nonprofit integrates itself into towns and villages in order to raise literacy and improve conditions. Once the school is established and working well, the organization then adds health services and skill development to bring economic opportunities for the villagers.

COVID-19 Considerations

Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic is a continuous battle for the organization, particularly for its grassroots-based donation effort. Despite this, Ekal has been able to leverage its structure to transition training centers into mask making centers and provide over a reported 2.3 million people with food supplies using volunteers and other community organizations. Early October saw a global Ekal conference wholly online, where goals for the next five years were outlined. Various elements of the organization, from youth divisions to board members, committed to increasing not only education efforts but practical village-to-village communication and economic growth. Bringing together education and Indian children remains a core pillar of the estimated budget, and technological revolutions in the forms of roaming mobile centers and tablets prove Ekal’s commitment to continued adaptability. As challenges present themselves, Ekal Vidyalaya strives to preserve its mission and still improve upon it, which will be a necessary factor for change in the years still to come.

– Alan Mathew
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania is Improving its EducationTanzania has faced difficulty in promoting its own economic development in the past. While Tanzania has made progress, its progress has slowed over the past decade. As a result, Tanzania is improving its education to reduce poverty in the country.

Challenges and Progress in Tanzania

Tanzania is a country that has experienced severe poverty levels throughout its history. Yet over the past decade, the country has also made significant strides in reducing its poverty rate. While in 2007 Tanzania had a poverty rate of 34.4%, with more than a third of the population living under the poverty line, that number had fallen to 28.2% by 2012 and again to 26.4% by 2018.

This data shows a clear improvement in Tanzania’s poverty levels but it also reveals a slowing of the progress being made in fighting poverty in the country, with a roughly 6% reduction of the poverty rate between 2007 and 2012 and a roughly 2% reduction of the poverty rate from 2012 to 2018. Nearly 50% of Tanzania’s population still fall below the extreme poverty income line, meaning they are living on less than $1.90 a day.

While Tanzania’s economic progress had already been slowing in the last few years, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic is on track to hinder the country’s economic development even further. Both the formal and informal economies of Tanzania have been impacted by the effects of the pandemic, with Tanzania’s tourism industry being especially crippled.

The Tanzanian government estimates that only about 437,000 people will visit Tanzania from outside the country this year, which is a significant reduction from the 1,867,000 tourists estimated in 2019. It is predicted that Tanzania will lose around 146,000 jobs due to this drop in tourism.

Education Challenges in Tanzania

Yet, Tanzania is improving its education to reduce poverty among its poorer populations. In an effort to reduce poverty, the Tanzanian government has made investments in education over the past decade. Since 2007, Tanzania’s government has worked to provide free education for all its people and from 2011 to 2016, it increased its education spending budget by more than half. This led to a sharp increase in the rate of primary education enrollment but by 2012 this rate had fallen by nearly 20%.

While the efforts of Tanzania’s government to make education free have been broadly effective, many impoverished communities in Tanzania still struggle to access formal education. The cost of the tuition itself is only part of the total cost of education and many impoverished people in Tanzania are unable to afford the costs of traveling to and from school. In some rural parts of Tanzania, students have to travel nearly 15 miles every day just to receive an education.

As a result, many people in Tanzania choose to forgo formal education, with more than half of Tanzania’s rural population being illiterate.

Possible Solutions to Improve Education

Investing more in transportation systems for students may help to alleviate some of the financial burdens that impoverished communities face. Investing in teachers may also help Tanzania overcome its low education rate, as many public schools in Tanzania have many more students than available teachers. According to UNICEF, for every trained teacher at the pre-primary level of public education in Tanzania, there are roughly 131 students, meaning that many public schools in Tanzania end up being understaffed. By investing more funding into training teachers, the Tanzanian government could further improve its public education systems, which would improve career opportunities among its poorest communities.

Taking Action

Tanzania’s government has recognized the need to improve education among its populace. Currently, UNICEF is working with Tanzania’s President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government to bring increased education opportunities to more communities throughout the country. By working with the government, UNICEF hopes to develop policies that will allow for more effective and accessible systems of education to be established within the next year.

Tanzania’s economic development has faced significant roadblocks in the past, with the COVID-19 pandemic being especially detrimental. However, it is clear that Tanzania is improving its education to reduce poverty among its population. To reduce poverty rates and improve career opportunities, the Tanzanian government is investing in better education for its citizens. With the help of organizations such as UNICEF, Tanzania may see a lower poverty rate than ever before.

– Marshall Kirk
Photo: Flickr

Shot@Life CampaignThrough the use of public education, grassroots advocacy and fundraising, [email protected] strives to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths to zero by the year 2030. The [email protected] campaign has an overall goal for every child to have a shot at life no matter where they live.

7 Facts About the [email protected] Campaign

  1. The initiative began as a grassroots advocacy campaign. [email protected] was founded in 2011 as part of the United Nations Foundation that aims to ensure that children around the world have access to lifesaving vaccines. Its programs help raise awareness and funds that contribute to child immunization programs hosted by world health organizations like UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The campaign has amassed thousands of supporters over the years, ranging from members of Congress to local and national businesses.
  2. [email protected] recognizes the importance of vaccines for saving children’s lives. Projections indicate that 17.7 million deaths may be averted in children under age five years as a result of vaccinations administered from 2011 to 2020.  With medicine continuing to evolve, diseases that have been around for hundreds of years are finally able to be addressed.
  3. The campaign focuses on four main vaccines. The four vaccine-preventable diseases it centers its attention on are polio, measles, pneumonia and rotavirus. To this day, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are still polio-endemic countries. Additionally, the majority of people who contract measles were unvaccinated. Diarrhea, a common consequence of rotavirus, and pneumonia are two of the leading causes of child mortality. Combined, they account for approximately 1.4 million deaths around the world every year.
  4. [email protected] achieved a lot during its first five years of operation. Through the program’s support and its advocates, the campaign was able to secure over $2 billion in U.S. funding for global immunization programs between fiscal years 2012 to 2017. From its support of the United Nations’ partner programs between 2012 and 2016, the campaign was also able to provide more than 42 million children around the world with life-saving vaccines. In collaboration with its global partners, [email protected] was also able to contribute to the 84% drop in global measles deaths from 2000 to 2016, which saved more than 20 million children’s lives. Another accomplishment is the fact that 16 million people who otherwise would have been paralyzed by polio are still walking thanks to the partnership between [email protected] and the U.N. Foundation’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
  5. It has hosted multiple campaigns with the pharmacy, Walgreens. Walgreens has been one of the key partners of [email protected] since the beginning of the campaign’s advocacy efforts. [email protected] partnered with the drugstore chain on the “get a shot, give a shot” campaign, which aims to supply 100 million vaccines by 2024 to children in need around the world. This campaign, which began in 2013, is still in operation to this day. Its most recent campaign with Walgreens began on September 1, 2020, with Walgreens pledging to donate $0.23 per immunization shot a patient receives from a Walgreens pharmacy. The fundraiser runs until December 31, 2020, and is set to raise a maximum of $2.6 million
    for [email protected]
  6. The campaign runs a blog dedicated to [email protected] and vaccine-related issues. Part of its educational efforts includes hosting and contributing to the [email protected] blog. With its first post dating back to 2011, the posts cover a variety of topics about vaccines and success stories related to the campaign. One of its most recent articles broke down COVID-19’s negative impact on refugees and providing them with adequate healthcare, including vaccines.
  7. [email protected] outlines a variety of ways to advocate for the campaign. Through its “take action now” page on its website, [email protected] highlights numerous ways U.S. constituents can put their support behind the campaign and efforts to provide vaccines for children globally. It encourages reaching out to U.S. Senators and Representative’s offices by calling, emailing and writing letters to get [email protected] on their radar to support. One of its programs, “[email protected] Champions,” is a way for members of the public to increase their support of the organization. These advocates attend training webinars and events to learn how to further the efforts of the campaign as well as encourage other members in the community to join the cause.

Since its beginning in 2011, [email protected] has amassed more than 350,000 supporters and 2,000 grassroots advocates in all 50 U.S. states who call on their communities to support the campaign for global vaccines. Through education and advocacy, [email protected] acknowledges the vital role that providing vaccines for children plays in preventing their deaths, especially in developing nations.

– Sara Holm
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in ZimbabweZimbabwe has high poverty rates with more than half of the country’s population estimated to be living in abject poverty. Child poverty is prevalent in the country as children account for 48% of the population. There are notable efforts being made to address the issue of child poverty in Zimbabwe.

A History of Poverty

Zimbabwe, once known as Rhodesia, attained independence from British rule in 1980. Following the country’s independence was intense political warfare stemming from tensions between the then newly instated president, Robert Mugabe. This period resulted in the deaths of more than 20,000 Zimbabweans. These tensions would continue in Zimbabwe for the next two decades. Multiple uprisings occurred throughout the 1990s and early to mid-2000s, with citizens protesting for a litany of issues, including increased food prices, land ownership and financial plight. Economic turmoil has steadily increased since the country’s independence in 1980. The country broke records with one of the highest rates of hyperinflation in 2008, peaking at 98%. Zimbabwe has had intermittent financial rebounds since this time, however, the country has continued to struggle with stabilizing its economy.

State of Affairs in Zimbabwe

Agriculture plays a prominent role in Zimbabwe’s economy. According to the FAO, 60-70% of the country’s population depend on agricultural-related affairs for employment. The industrial sector relies on agriculture heavily, providing 60% of raw materials. Agriculture also accounts for 40% of export earnings and makes up 17% of the country’s GDP. Droughts have threatened the livelihoods of many Zimbabweans. The country is currently experiencing the most severe droughts in its history. A significant proportion of the population that is dependent upon farming and agriculture for both income and food are placed in jeopardy. Food shortages have become a prevalent issue in Zimbabwe with children being adversely impacted.

UNICEF reports that 4.8 million Zimbabwean children live in poverty and 1.6 million children live in extreme poverty. The most prevalent issues for impoverished children in Zimbabwe include malnutrition, education, sanitation and access to potable water. The FAO reported that less than 10% of Zimbabwean children between 6-24 months of age consume a minimally acceptable diet.

UNICEF Addresses Child Poverty

UNICEF has made several efforts to address child poverty in Zimbabwe. A few noteworthy efforts by UNICEF include providing 6,740 mothers with infant and young child feeding counseling as well as supplying more than 700,000 children with vitamin A in 2016.

UNICEF partnered with U.N. Women and the UNFPA in 2016 and the organizations in cooperation with the Zimbabwean Government were able to successfully support the development of the National Action Plan and the Communication Plan to End Child Marriages. UNICEF has also supported grassroots efforts in Zimbabwe. One being the development of the National Case Management System (NCMS) which provides child protection services, referrals and HIV care and treatment to vulnerable populations throughout Zimbabwe.

The NCMS provided nearly 24,000 Zimbabwean children with legal support in 2016. UNICEF also showed its support in the multi-sectoral system that accompanied the National Case Management System. This multi-sectoral system employs officers specifically tasked with providing support for children who have been victims of physical and sexual abuse. These efforts are major milestones that have contributed to improving the state of child poverty in Zimbabwe.

The Future of Child Poverty in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has had extensive turmoil in its history and tremendous economic turbulence. But, there still remains potential for growth and development. In this development, children need to be prioritized. With the assistance of organizations, child poverty in Zimbabwe can be reduced.

– Imani Smikle
Photo: Flickr

ColaLife in ZambiaColaLife is an independent non-governmental organization, co-founded in 2008 as an online movement and transformed into a United Kingdom-based charity in 2011. The organization started with the realization that even in developing countries, Coca-Cola is accessible but lifesaving medicines are not. Despite scientific advances and discoveries, in 2017, almost 1.6 million people died from diarrheal diseases globally. ColaLife has made efforts to improve access to diarrheal treatments in the most remote areas of the world. ColaLife has operated with the help of more than 10,000 supporters and donors that allow for an effective response to the second leading cause of death in children worldwide. ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of these efforts.

ColaLife in Zambia

ColaLife in Zambia marked the beginning of an impressive effort to save the lives of children with diarrhea. The solution had to be immediate since the high numbers of diarrheal deaths in the region revealed that global efforts were insufficient and ineffective.  A whole three decades ago, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc were known as an effective combination treatment for patients with diarrhea. However, 99% of children do not receive these treatments.

ColaLife Operational Trial Zambia (COTZ):  Kit Yamoyo

COTZ was created as a custom project for Zambia under the recommendations of the WHO and UNICEF. The project aimed to distribute diarrhea treatment kits, called Kit Yamoyos, that contain Oral Rehydration Salts and zinc and promote the importance of handwashing by adding soap. The project implemented the founding logic of the organization and analyzed Coca-Cola’s distribution model to distribute the treatments in the most rural and remote areas of the country, specifically to mothers and children under 5 years of age.

ColaLife in Zambia, with the consent of Coca-Cola and its bottling company, SABMiller, coined the “AidPod” package, designed to fit into the unused portion of the crated bottles. This innovation proved that the supply chain could play a fundamental role in the accessibility of these treatments.

Currently, the initiative no longer needs the innovative hand of ColaLife. Kit Yamoyos are being produced and sold by local companies, reaching 1.2 million sales by the end of 2019. This number represents one million people whose lives have been saved. The Zambian Government is the largest customer for the kit and has contributed significantly to this cause. These kits are now easily found in supermarkets and are also sold by informal street vendors.

Extended Scope

The WHO has included in its Essential Medicines List (EML) the combination of ORS and zinc as a treatment for diarrhea. This milestone shows commitment, but above all, the success that the organization has had. The success of COTZ has shown that the solution pursued by ColaLife in Zambia has had a substantial impact. The organization would like to replicate the self-sustained impact that was made in Zambia in other parts of the world. ColaLife wants to continue promoting the treatment to save the lives of millions of children globally. Access to these kits could be the global solution to preventable deaths caused by diarrhea.

– Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr

How Child Care Initiatives Improve Poverty in Canada
Although poverty in Canada has significantly improved in the last decade, the problem as a whole still exists. For many, this way of living begins when a person is still a child in early stages of their development and growth. Parents of these children often do not make enough money, which is a cause of generational poverty. Because of this, many families struggle to complete both money-making and child care tasks properly. Thus, extreme poverty may not be eradicated without accessible and affordable childcare. Here are several child care initiatives in Canada working to assist impoverished parents and children.

Canada Child Benefit

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a program created by the Canadian government to help relieve parents of some child care stress. By paying a tax-free fee every month, parents who need some extra support raising their children can benefit from this program. The CCB provides basic assistance such as supervision and proper medical care for children while their parents are away at work. It also accommodates for child care situations in which supervision is required for longer periods of time.

The amount of monetary assistance a parent may receive depends on a number of things. For example, how many children are present in a household or how much money a family makes. Just from the past two years, nearly 24 billion U.S. dollars have served over three and a half million Canadian families. CCB has led to a continuous decline in the number of children living in poverty in Canada, meaning families are able to strive towards a better future.

Child Care Now

Child Care Now is a non-profit organization aiming for quality child care throughout Canada. More than 700 delegates help advocate for Child Care Now. In addition, the non-profit has relieved the strain put on families to find adequate and affordable child care. From the start of Child Care Now, many areas in Canada have expanded their child care locations. In Ontario, around 100 spaces have opened with regulated care and in Manitoba, another 700 licensed spaces have opened. With its many locations, Child Care Now hopes to provide families with the affordable and quality child care they deserve.

Early Education and Child Care

Early Education and Child Care (ECEC) is a Canadian program that aims to benefit child development while children are in school. Education for young children is crucial for development because children absorb the most information at very young ages. Low-income families are provided with subsidies or sometimes even given free education for their children. According to the Conference Board of Canada, spending a dollar on education for children below five will help children gain six dollars in the future. This shows just how important it is for children to receive quality care and education.

How Child Care Initiatives Help Poverty in Canada

These initiatives are just a few that provide child care and resources to Canadian children and families in need. Investing in a low-income child’s future while they are young will only benefit their future. Without proper education for parents and children, it makes it extremely difficult for one to gain upward mobility without a resume or experience. Through child care initiatives, financially struggling families can improve their chances of economic mobility and lower rates of poverty in Canada simultaneously.

Karina Wong
Photo: Flickr