Healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa has a direct impact on poverty in the region. When adults are too ill to work, they and their children can quickly fall into extreme poverty, which leads to hunger and malnutrition. Around 46% of Africa’s population lives on less than $1 a day; an even larger proportion than was the case 15 years ago. Despite these challenges, organizations like Wild4Life are working to expand the reach of healthcare into these underserved communities.

Poverty and Health Care in sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region in the continent. Close to 60 million children under the age of 17 work instead of attending school in an effort to help their families rise out of poverty. Every fifth child is forced into child labor. This effectively means that when grown, that person will lack education and most likely remain in poverty. This social plight creates a vicious cycle in which chronic malnutrition, growth disorders and physical and mental underdevelopment occur. These health issues further limit an individual’s opportunity to earn a living later in life. In addition, 25 million Africans are infected with HIV, including almost 3 million children — the highest rate of infection in the world. Many of these children have lost one or both parents and are living on the streets.

Government expenditure on healthcare in Africa is very low; typically about $6 per person. This means that medical workers experience huge pressures, operating with little-to-no equipment or means to reach rural populations, Such challenges make healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa difficult to provide.

Good News about Health Care in Rural Communities

The good news is that organizations such as Wild4Life are working to reverse these disturbing healthcare trends. The NGO’s mission is to expand the reach of health services to underserved remote, rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa that have limited or no access to healthcare. To achieve this goal, Wild4Life has developed an incredibly innovative service delivery model. The aim of this model is to reach more people than previously would have been possible. Wild4Life works to establish the basic building blocks of a healthcare system. It believes that a well-functioning system has a lasting effect on a community’s overall health and longevity.

Expansion to Twelve African Countries

The Wild4Life model involves partnering with organizations that are already established in remote locations, and that have put together links with people in the local community. This approach leverages the existing infrastructure, social ties and knowledge bank in cooperation with Wild4Life’s network of health providers. This allows support and treatment to impact some of the hardest-to-reach people and places on earth.

Wild4Life began as an HIV/AIDS program in Zimbabwe, but it has expanded throughout sub-Saharan Africa.  Now operating in twelve countries — Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe —the organization delivers extremely low-cost healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa and provides interventions that are scalable yet sustainable.

Community Partnerships to Improve Health Care

The goals of the NGO include assessing the needs of rural populations and targeting the health issues that most affect them. It also seeks to build clinics in remote areas; strengthen rural healthcare networks; provide quality healthcare and improve community partnerships so that creative ways to address problems become permanent solutions. For example, Wild4Life trains community leaders to mobilize local demands for healthcare services and advocate for quality care from clinic staff and maintain facilities. This results in significant infrastructure improvements. The NGO also organizes events around such topics as improving healthy behaviors and coming up with strategies for the best way to use clinic funds.

Five Clinics in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe alone, Wild4Life has a network of five clinics. These clinics have achieved remarkable results, including hundreds of lives saved by new diagnosis and treatment of HIV as well as other preventable diseases. The organization believes that there is not one single technology or innovation that will create a lasting impact on the health of people living in rural communities. Instead, it partners with all levels of the healthcare system to locate the gaps in the extant setup. By doing this, it hopes to leave behind a resilient, local healthcare system for those who need it most.

During comprehensive clinical mentoring, well-trained, multi-disciplinary teams composed of six specialists comprehensively mentor clinic staffs on primary care conditions. These conditions include HIV, TB, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness and testing for anemia. Such services also aid in labor and delivery. This process also covers monitoring and evaluation of data quality, pharmacy management and clinic management over a two-year period.

Scaling Up to Improve Healthcare in Africa

Wild4Life has significantly scaled up since its inception, through government, nonprofit and for-profit connections. It has gone from delivering care to remote areas, to building healthcare networks in rural populations. As a result of its expansion plan, 70,000 more people will have access to high-quality health services in their communities. By training clinicians and community members in the most up-to-date medical care delivery, the NGO is changing the way that rural healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is delivered.

Sarah Betuel

Photo: Flickr

NGOsNon-governmental organizations (NGOs) are nonprofit associations founded by citizens, which function independently of the government. NGOs, also known as civil societies, are organized on “community, national, or international levels” to help developing nations in their humanitarian, health care, educational, social, environmental and social issues. These citizen-run groups perform various services and humanitarian functions by advocating citizen concerns to governments, overlooking policies and encouraging political participation by providing information to the public.

History of Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations started emerging during the 18th century. The Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1839, is the first international NGO. This organization had a profound impact on society, and it stimulated the founding of many other NGOs since opening its doors. Of note, many civil societies began to form as a result of wars. For example, the Red Cross formed after the Franco-Italian war in the 1860s, Save the Children began after World War I and Oxfam and CARE started after World War II. The term non-governmental organization emerged after the Second World War when the United Nations wanted to differentiate between “intergovernmental specialized agencies and private organizations.”

NGOs engage in many different forms throughout communities in the sense that they are a “complex mishmash of alliances and rivalries.” Some have a charitable status, while others focus on business or environment-related issues. Other non-governmental organizations have religious, political, or other interests concerning a particular issue.

The World Bank identifies two broad types of non-governmental organizations: operational and advocacy.

Operational NGOs

An operational non-governmental organization is a group of citizens that focus on designing and implementing development projects and advocacy. NGOs promote and defend particular causes, and operational NGOs fall into two categories: relief and development-oriented organizations. They are classified on whether or not they “stress service delivery or participation.”

An example of an operational NGO is the International Medicine Corps (IMC) in Afghanistan. The IMC installed a vaccination campaign against measles. They trained about 170 Afghani’s how to vaccinate children between the ages of 6 and 12, and conducted a two-week-long “vaccination campaign.” These efforts assisted 95 percent of children in the capital of Kabul.

Advocacy NGOs

Advocacy non-governmental organizations use lobbying, press work and activist events. This is in order to raise awareness, acceptance and knowledge on the specific cause they are promoting or defending. An example of an advocacy NGO is America’s Development Foundation (ADF). This NGO provides advocacy training and technical assistance in efforts to “increase citizen participation in democratic processes.”

Non-Governmental Organization Funding

Since non-governmental organizations are nonprofit organizations, they rely on membership dues, private donations, the sales of goods and services and grants. These funds cover funding projects, operations, salaries and other overhead costs. NGOs have very large budgets that reach millions, even billions, of dollars because of heavy dependence on government funding.

Another chunk of NGO funding belongs to the individual, private donors. A few of these donors are affluent individuals, such as Ted Turner who donated $1 billion to the United Nations. Most nonprofits, however, depend on multiple small donations from people to raise money.

Overall, non-governmental organizations function to build support for a certain cause whether it is economic, political or social. In addition, NGOs tend to bring people together, especially advocacy NGOs.

– Isabella Gonzalez Montilla
Photo: Pixabay

Virtual Reality Is Fighting Global PovertyVirtual reality technology is such a recent phenomenon that we have only just tapped into its potential. This technology has been used to expand the capabilities of film and video games, to train soldiers and surgeons, to assist space missions and to aid patients in physical and mental therapy. Non-governmental organizations have found another use for it; now virtual reality is fighting global poverty.

One of the first major forays into using virtual reality to fight global poverty when the U.N. showed a film called “Clouds Over Sidra” which puts the viewer in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. The viewer is given a tour by a twelve-year-old girl named Sidra, who explains what her life is like at the camp.

The U.N. has shown this film and others through virtual reality headsets to potential donors at humanitarian fundraising events. These films have seemingly become a hit. At a March humanitarian pledging conference where donors viewed “Clouds Over Sidra,” $3.8 billion was donated to aiding Syrian refugees, well beyond the conference’s goal of $2.3 billion. In New Zealand, one out of six people who saw the film chose to donate, which was twice the normal donation rate.

A major reason why virtual reality is fighting global poverty so effectively is its ability to elicit empathy from viewers. In a 2013 experiment from Stanford University and the University of Georgia, two groups did a color-matching exercise in virtual reality, where one group pretended to be colorblind and the other group was forced into colorblindness through a filter. The study found that the second group spent twice as much time helping colorblind people than the first group. Similar experiments found that people who saw 65-year-old virtual avatars of themselves were more likely to save for retirement, and people who cut down a tree in a simulator used fewer napkins than people who read a description of what happens when a tree is cut down.

The intense, empathetic reactions to VR films have not been lost on VR film producers such as Robert Holzer, CEO of Matter Unlimited. “I’ve never experienced such a visceral reaction to any form of media,” says Holzer. “People are left with something closer to what a memory is, versus what they are left with when it is something that they just watched, and that to me is the wild difference of VR.”

The apparent success of virtual reality has caused other global development nonprofits, such as Amnesty International and Trickle Up, to invest in virtual reality films. It seems that virtual reality isn’t just for video games; it also has the potential to be a significant driver of development funding.

Carson Hughes

Photo: Flickr

Ghalib Khalil
The actions of individual people like Ghalib Khalil have been cited as the spark for many great advocacy and social movements. As Nelson Mandela once said, “It is time for the next generations to continue to struggle against social injustice and for the rights of humanity. It is in your hands.”


Ghalib Khalil: A Movement


This is exactly what took place in 2010 in Pakistan after the country was devastated by flooding. Ghalib Khalil, inspired to help his country recover from the natural disaster, realized that his own solitary efforts would not be enough to make a big difference. Guided by the advice of a teacher, the 15-year-old created the Rescue Pakistan Youth Foundation. Networking for the organization on Facebook, Khalil used his connections to mobilize support and a volunteer force of several hundred Pakistanis.

This volunteer force engaged in door-to-door collections to help make a difference, but Khalil knew that he still wanted to make a bigger impact. By reaching out to large international corporations and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Khalil was able to dramatically expand his impact on advocacy. Due to the creation of Rescue Pakistan Youth Foundation, he successfully raised more than $100,000 to aid in relief efforts.

Since then, Khalil’s impact on advocacy has only continued and increased. After Pakistan recovered from the flood, Rescue Pakistan Youth Foundation continued to take donations for local community projects, but Khalil has set his sights on the struggle for peace. Peacetide, originally named Friends Without Borders, is an international advocacy campaign that focuses on promoting mutual respect and peaceful relations between Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, Greece and Turkey, Kosovo and Serbia.

The campaign is aimed at 14 to 25-year-olds, using visual storytelling through videos, pictures, art, inspirational quotes and personal testimonials for peace from its members. To date, the campaign’s main promotional platform on Facebook has more than 40,000 followers.

Both Rescue Pakistan Youth Foundation and Peacetide have achieved a positive impact on advocacy on a grassroots level while helping to educate, promote international peace and make a tangible difference in local communities in Pakistan. The secret to the popularity of Khalil’s organizations is connection, which is perfectly summed-up in Peacetide’s motto, “Goodness is growing one friend at a time.”

Claire Colby

Sources: Peacetide Facebook Page, The Xrtaordinary, International Political Forum
Photo: Flickr


The Borgen Project

The Borgen Project… Seattle NGO

The Borgen Project is one of the leading Seattle NGO’s. The Borgen Project operates at the political level, holding Congress accountable for extreme poverty. Unlike most NGO’s, The Borgen Project doesn’t provide direct aid, but functions as a lobbyist for the world’s poor. The organization pressures members of Congress to support legislation that impacts millions of people.


About NGO’s in Seattle

There are many wonderful NGO’s and NPO’s in Seattle. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are a major part of Seattle life. Seattle is home to the Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organization of Bill and Melinda Gates, as well as hundreds of other groups.

The Seattle Foundation is one of the nation’s largest community foundations with nearly $600 million in assets. It is led by a board filled with community leaders in order to maintain the connection with the local population. The NGOs in Seattle are not restricted only to local issues – many of them also focus on global issues.

The Gates Foundation has two global initiatives, the Global Health Program and the Global Development Program. A massive undertaking, the Gates Foundation takes its considerable resources and provides grants and funding for organizations on the ground. Another Seattle NGO, The Borgen Project, is a national organization whose headquarters are located in Seattle. The Borgen Project is committed to ending global poverty by lobbying Congress to support international aid programs and believes the United States has a responsibility to help the rest of the world. The Borgen Project focuses on using technology to gain an upper hand while fighting poverty, as does Vittana, a Seattle-based NGO that uses small loans and microfinance to give those in poverty a chance at achieving an education.

NGOs are crucial players in dealing with issues that many companies view as being too difficult to tackle or unprofitable. An NGO is a company that uses its surplus funds to pursue its goals instead of going to its owner or shareholders. Nonprofits are most effective when they are supported by their local community as well as on a national level. Seattle provides this atmosphere with many informed citizens who care about global and national issues. Nonprofits in Seattle have the support, funding and drive to make a difference, resulting in a potent combination for change.