Tag Archives: Developing country

The Rising Educational Obstacles for sub-Saharan Children

Invest in One ChildWhen children who live in poor countries think about being educated there are many hurdles they face first before stepping foot in the classroom from the sheer proximity to a school to school fees to the cost of a uniform. It adds up quickly and means that many children remain uneducated in developing countries because of their family’s lack of financial resources. Everyone has a basic right to education, but that basic right oftentimes goes unfulfilled. There is no doubt about it: education transforms lives. This is true around the world, but in countries where the only means of rising out of poverty is through education the stakes are particularly high.

Photo 13

The Education for All global initiative that was first created in 1990 says that every child has a right to free primary school. There has been progress over the past decade. In sub-Saharan African children in school rose from 59 percent to 77 percent, but there are still millions more children who are not enrolled in school at all despite increased global enrollment. For example, Nigeria has the worst percentage of children who are not in school. According to UNESCO that number has risen from 7.4 million Nigerian children that are not in school to 10. 5 million since 1999.

Opportunity International, an organization that provides microfinance loans to help people rise out of poverty in developing nations, has recognized that there is a fundamental problem with access to education for children in sub-Saharan Africa where parents typically have to pay 30% of their children’s school fees. Their program,  Invest in One Child, asks donors to help send a child to school for less than $1 a day. Working in Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda, Opportunity International provides access to loans for parents who desperately need money to pay for their children’s school fees. An individual family can borrow up to $240 per child per year.

Through Invest in One Child you can invest in one child going to school for one year. Here’s how the donation flow works:

To learn more and to invest in a child’s education in sub-Saharan Africa visit opportunity.org/give/project/child.

Photos courtesy of Opportunity International

Reporting from Zambia with the International Reporting Project

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I will be reporting from Zambia as an International Reporting Project Zambia Fellow starting on July 15. I will be in Africa with nine stellar new media journalists. We all have our own beats and will report on different angles about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. I personally will report on how these infectious diseases acutely affect mothers and children.

You can follow my work on the Gates Foundation blog, Impatient Optimists. You can follow all of our work at the #ZambiaHealth hashtag. You can also follow my personal observations at jjamesonline.com.

Photo:

Children sing at the Fountain of Hope centre in Lusaka, Zambia, during a visit from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The centre helps to rehabilitate thousands of children living on the streets of the Zambian capital.
25 February 2012
Lusaka, Zambia

Save the Children Releases Important New Breastfeeding Report

SUPERFOOD-COVERSave the Children released a brand-new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies, that says 830,000 babies’ lives can be saved worldwide if they are breastfed within the critical first hour after birth. In the first hour after birth babies benefit from drinking colostrum, the most effective and potent natural immune system boosting substance on the planet. Babies who are breastfed within the very first hour after birth are three times more likely to survive than if they are breastfed a day after birth.

Breastfeeding is critical to the survival of children in the world’s most income poor countries. More importantly, immediate breastfeeding is unquestioningly crucial to a baby’s survival.

Mothers at Health Center, Ethiopia

While advocating for mothers to breastfeed within the first hour after delivering their babies sounds easy enough, breastfeeding rates have stagnated and only 40% of mothers breastfeed globally. Save the Children has documented four barriers that hinder mothers’ ability to breastfeed exclusively at least for the first six months of life.

Four Major Barriers to Immediate Breastfeeding

1. Cultural and community pressure – Even though breastfeeding is one of the most natural gifts a mother can give her child cultural customs prevent some mothers from immediate and sustained breastfeeding. For example, in India some believe the first milk, colostrum, should be expressed out of a mother’s breast before breastfeeding. That said, some customs are detrimental to the health of babies and their survival.

SONY DSC

2. Global health worker shortage – Across the developing world, there is a major shortage of frontline health workers that must be addressed. When health workers help deliver a baby, a mother is two times more likely to breastfeed during the first hour after delivery than when giving birth without a skilled birth attendant.

3. Lack of maternity legislation – Women in most low-income countries do not benefit from protections and legislation to help them breastfeed. Out of the 36 low-income countries that Save the Children looked at, Vietnam was the only country that provided adequate maternity leave (6 weeks).

4. Aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes – The global baby food market is currently worth $36 billion meaning that mothers are often aggressively marketed to to buy their products, especially breast-milk substitutes. In Save the Children’s China survey – 40% of mothers interviewed had been contacted directly by baby food company representatives. Additionally, in Pakistan, 1/3 of health professionals said they’d been visiting by a representative of breast-milk substitute companies and 1/10 of health professionals said their health facility had received free samples of formula, nipple or bottles, according to the report.

Nestlé and Danone own the lion share of the breast-milk substitute market. The poster below was snapped in a maternity ward in an Ethiopian hospital. What is particularly bad about this advertisement is it was in the NICU.

Formula Marketing in Bishoftu Hospital

In Superfood for Babies Save the Children also found that women who are uneducated are 19% more likely to not initiate breastfeeding and 13% less likely to sustain breastfeeding with their babies. Those who are most uneducated tend to rely on traditional customs and those who have more education tend to be a part of the workforce and have increased opportunity to see formula marketing and also tend to have low breastfeeding numbers.

77077_307743249343525_535094831_n

Brazil – An Example in Reducing Child Mortality through Increasing Breastfeeding

Brazil has cut infant mortality by 50% over the past twenty years through an emphasis on breastfeeding. Every maternity hospital in Brazil has a human milk bank. Isla Fisher traveled to Brazil with Save the Children to document the amazing progress of the nation.

Call to Action

Save the Children is urging everyone who believes in increased child health to sign a petition urging new Secretary of State John Kerry to fight for newborn nutrition and the renewal of the 1,000 Days Call to Action that is set to expire in a few, short months. Visit savethechildren.org/superfood to make your voice heard.

Photos: Mom Bloggers for Social Good/ Jennifer James

Team Creates Clean Water Solution for South Africans

James Smith, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Dr. Rebecca Dillingham, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Global Health, with a PureMadi water filter.


In areas where water is often filled with pathogens that are deadly or can cause severe illness it is important to either filter water or, the alternative, have access to clean water. According to our partner WaterAid, 783 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly 11% of the world’s population. (WHO/UNICEF). Because of this women in the developing world spend 40 billion hours collecting water each year.

A University of Virginia team of professors and students has created a simple water filtration system that will clean one to three liters of dirty water each hour, enough for drinking and cooking for an average family.

The solution is called PureMadi, a ceramic water filter that kills pathogens that cause diarrhea, and dehydration, for example. Each PureMadi filter is coated with a trace amount of silver and copper to filter the water. After rigorous testing researchers found that the filter is safe and effective for filtering clean drinking water.

Currently the PureMadi team only works in South Africa, but their longterm goal is to provide PureMadi to a swath of African countries and also open factories where the PureMadi filter can be created. They have already opened a factory in Limpopo province, South Africa.

“Eventually that factory will be capable of producing about 500 to 1,000 filters per month, and our 10-year plan is to build 10 to 12 factories in South Africa and other countries,” James Smith, a U.Va. civil and environmental engineer who co-leads the project with Dr. Rebecca Dillingham, director of U.Va.’s Center for Global Health said. “Each filter can serve a family of five or six for two to five years, so we plan to eventually serve at least 500,000 people per year with new filters.”

Additionally, they make the MadiDrop, which as its name implies, is a ceramic drop that also cleans water, but doesn’t remove sediment from dirty water, but will kill pathogens.

Learn more at puremadi.org.

One Million Health Workers Slated to be Trained in Sub-Saharan Africa

While traveling on a long, remote road to a village in southern Ethiopia we noticed the vast amount of dust and sand covering the trees. Every person walking along the road wore a head scarf to keep the swirl of dust out of their eyes and mouths. But most importantly, the road was long – possible twenty miles – all uphill to the nearest street from the village that is nestled squarely, yet pristinely in the valley. The road was extensive even for a ride in a SUV.

Can you imagine trying to walk this road when giving birth?

You would be astonished by the range of long distances people are from their closest health clinic or hospital in developing countries. Every Mother Counts did a superb job of bringing that fact to life in their video, The Walk. Do give it a look. For many who live in rural areas in poor and middle-income countries frontline health workers are their only chance of receiving much-needed health care from vaccines and malaria treatment to maternal health and infant deliveries.

Yesterday at the World Economic Forum Director of the Earth Institute and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, and CEO of Novartis Joseph Jimenez announced the training of one million health workers in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The campaign will transform health care delivery across the continent and help some of the world’s poorest nations meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” said Sachs. “We are proud to be working with Novartis to launch this campaign and to work with African leaders to develop huge new cadres of community health workers to reach the rural populations.”

Frontline health workers form the backbone of health services for developing countries. Without them, most people would have no access to health care. You can read more about the one million health workers initiative on www.1millionhealthworkers.org. You can also read more about the work of health workers and why they are so important to the lives of people who live in the poorest countries in the world.

Photo and video copyright: Social Good Moms

Intel Releases Report About Internet Access for Women, Girls in Developing World

Access to the Internet liberates individuals and entire countries. Unfortunately of those who have access to the Internet in a variety of platforms (not just via mobile phones) women and girls lack Net use significantly. Intel, UN Women and the US State Department are looking to change that. A joint report, “Women and the Web” calls for a doubling of women who have access to the Internet from 600 million to 1.2 billion by 2016.

Today, only 4% of women in low-income countries have access to the Internet, 13% in lower middle income countries and 34% in middle income countries. Women in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Haiti and Iraq have the least access to the Net of all countries. Conversely, women show greatest Net use in the West Bank/Palestine, the Seychelles, Maldives and Antigua and Barbuda.

Some of the reasons women lack access to the Internet are fairly common sense: cost, location, cultural norms, timidity about the medium, and a general lack of awareness about the benefits of the Internet.

Women and the Web estimates that if more women are afforded access to the Internet there could be a potential increase of $13 billion to $18 billion to annual GDP across 144 developing countries.

“With the powerful capabilities the Internet enables — to connect, to learn, to engage, to increase productivity, and to find opportunities — women’s lack of access is giving rise to a second digital divide, one where women and girls risk being left further and further behind.” said Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.”My hope is that this report will catalyze action to close the Internet gender gap. This will require knowledge, leadership, determination and collaboration among governments, public institutions, corporations, and civil society to tackle the wide range of gender-specific barriers to Internet access.”

According to the report women who have access to the Net use mobile banking and health programs more often. Additionally they gain a greater sense of self-esteem, connect with people in other communities and garner gender-specific information. Additionally women who use the Net can use the medium for business and making money, creativity, and greater information gathering.

Read more about the report at Intel.com.

Photo Caption: Sudanese women and girls march in El Fasher, North Darfur, to celebrate International Women’s Day, in many places the day’s 100th anniversary. The 2011 theme: “Equal Access to Education, Training, Science and Technology”.  UN Photo/Olivier Chassot

Help Send Books to Ethiopian Schoolchildren

Children everywhere deserve an exceptional education. In fact, it it their right. In Ethiopia, there is a 10-20% increase of school-age children meaning there is a greater need for educational materials.

Bruktawit Tigabu, the award-winning entrepreneur and co-founder of Tsehai Loves Learning, is bringing storybooks to thousands of children in Ethiopia and needs your help. Higher Circle has launched their Opening Books to Open Doors campaign where they are raising $10,000 to provide books for 4,000 Ethiopian schoolchildren.

$10 will provide four books for children in need. Donate now.

Below Bruktawit Tigabu talks about the importance of reading for Ethiopian children.

Education_First_Infographic_section-full_-_resized

Photo: Jennifer James
Inforgraphic: UNESCO

The Importance of Clean Cookstoves – A Personal Experience

When I was in Ethiopia last week observing frontline health workers with Save the Children I had the unfortunate circumstance of going into a home, a traditional hut, where the mother was cooking on her indoor cookstove. The smoke from the burning wood was so thick and powerful I could hardly breathe and couldn’t imagine a family, let alone children and babies, being in an enclosed area with that much damaging smoke.

In Ethiopia communities recognize families as “model families” if they have two separate homes – one for living and one for cooking — but many do not have the resources to create a separate space for cooking.

When you visit developing countries where there is widespread cookstove use you will see children who have a lot of mucus in their noses. Cookstove smoke causes increased risk of pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. And 2 million people die every year because of indoor health pollution.

Now that I have experienced how harmful cookstoves are I am more adamant about how important clean cookstoves are to the health and well-being of families, particularly women and children.

Read more about what you can do to advocate for clean cookstoves at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Do You Know an Amazing Health Worker?

Health workers are typically the unsung heroes around the world. They help women deliver their babies in health facilities, they treat babies who are too weak to thrive and even care for wounded civilians during time of war. Health workers assess our problems and patch us up the best they know how. And in developing countries where health workers are vital to the survival of communities their work is even more critical.

Save the Children along with Frontline Health Workers Coalition have created the REAL Awards where deserving United States-based health workers will be honored for the sacrifice and commitment they exhibit through their work.

If there is a doctor or nurse who inspires you be sure to nominate them for the REAL Awards. The deadline is today, November 29 – not too late to show someone you appreciate that you care.

Read more at www.therealawards.com/nominate.

Photo: Save the Children

Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Haiti

Hurricane Sandy left death and destruction along its path through the Caribbean and upwards through the northeast United States over the past week. The latest death toll in the United States is nearing 100 and property and environmental damages will cost billions of dollars to repair. But, in Haiti where hurricanes and tropical storms are rife and where development projects remain too few the flooding, disease, and homelessness are harder to bear.

Even though Sandy roared through the Caribbean last week flooding is still a major concern particularly as cholera cases rise. The flooding also damaged newly planted crops that may result in spikes in food prices.

“Several thousand kilometres of agricultural roads were destroyed and thousands of heads of cattle were swept away by the flood waters, which also destroyed thousands of hectares of plantations,” Agriculture Minister Jacques Thomas said as reported by South Africa’s Times Live.

Yesterday the Haitian government declared a month-long state of emergency to accelerate infrastructure and electrical repair and restore drinking water. Johan Peleman, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) operation in Haiti, told UN Radio that it is still too early to assess the full range of damages.

There are, however, concerns about food insecurity. “Already, the drought and the previous storm had hit the northern part of the country very badly and we had seen the levels of food insecurity rise there,” Peleman said. “With the south being hit now, we are going to face in the next couple of months very serious problems of malnutrition and food insecurity.”

Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
A woman walks through a flooded market in Port au Prince. Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
Residents stand on the banks of a river that swept away five homes in Port au Prince. Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
A coastal town is flooded. Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012 causing heay rains and winds, flooding homes and overflowing rivers.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH