In Bill and Melinda Gates’ Annual Letter that was released this week, they bet that in 15 years Africa will be able to feed itself. For those of you who have never been to Africa you may think this is an overstretch, but it is entirely true and based on significant data.
Most of the people I have met in Africa are smallholder farmers. Africa is an agrarian continent. Most people have to feed themselves from what they grow, but due to a lack of fertilizer, seeds, crop rotation, and substantial rain, farmers are suffering across the continent.
The Gates Foundation believes that in 15 years Africa can feed itself. This is a big challenge, but because they belive it so much, they fund NGOS that work on food security across the continent.
Each January Bill and Melinda Gates release their Annual Letter. This year they are taking a bet on the world’s future.
15 years ago the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was started and there have been substantial improvements in global health and development since then because of its dedication to the world’s poorest people. Now, Bill and Melinda Gates believe even more can be done in the next 15 years.
More Children Will Live and More Diseases Will Be Eradicated
By 2030 Bill and Melinda Gates bet that fewer children will die from preventable disease and more preventable diseases will be eradicated, Africa will be able to feed itself, millions more will gain access to mobile banking and education will be improved by innovative software.
Today, one in 20 children die from preventable diseases. In 2030, Bill and Melinda Gates bet the number of child deaths will come down to one in 40 children. Decreasing that number will take political will from the hardest hit countries with child mortality, new approaches and programs to keep children and newborns alive, vaccines, better health systems, and funding.
Africa Will Be Able to Feed Itself
It’s mind-boggling to know that Africa imports $50 billion dollars in food annually. Why? Because African farmers do not produce enough food currently to feed the continent. But due to its massive size and large agrarian societies Bill and Melinda Gates believe Africa will indeed be able to feed itself in 15 years . More training, better seeds, improved fertilizers, and crop rotations will lead to more yields across all of sub-Saharan Africa. That will lead to more money remaining in Africa for national and continent-wide improvements, such as increased funds to improve health systems or provide better training to farmers across the board.
More People Will Have Access to Mobile Banking
Currently there are 2.5 billion people who do not have access to a banking account. This means these people aren’t able to keep their assets safe and it proves difficult to borrow money and pay it back seamlessly. Bill and Melinda Gates believes that in 15 years hundreds of millions of people will gain access to a mobile bank account that will change their lives and the way they save, spend, and earn money.
Education Will Improve Due to Software
While more girls are getting an education around the world there are still too many girls who are left out of school. By 2030 that gender gap in education will sharply close. It is important to educate girls for the following reasons:
With innovative technology education will be accessible to millions more helping them leave the cycle of poverty and to improve their lives.
Bill and Melinda Gates are calling on everyone to become Global Citizens and care about these issues. Read 2015 Gates Annual Letter: Our Big Bet for the Future at gatesletter.com.
2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.
We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.
For over a year the wonderful and dedicated community of mom bloggers, both Social Good Moms and the Global Team of 200 members, has spread the word about newborn health and survival to their massive social networks and have blogged tirelessly about why newborn health is important to them. Over these sixteen months as a community of moms dedicated to maternal, newborn, and child health we have reached tens of millions of parents online through our collective personal social networks, via Twitter chats, through photo sharing, and through our blogs. And we have had tremendous support from our friends at the Gates Foundation, Save the Children, Healthy Newborn Network, and Every Newborn. As they say: never underestimate the power of moms with one collective voice.
We’re thrilled that May was fantastic for newborns and even more encouraged that our voices mattered in the run-up to the World Health Assembly. The Every Newborn Action Plan, which has been in the works for over a year, was officially adopted by the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday, May 24. The Lancet published the Every Newborn Series that looks at quality care for newborns and draws upon progress that has been made and is lacking since the first series in 2005. And, finally, Canada pledged an additional $3.5 billion for maternal, newborn, and child health.
We’re taking a look back at the important advocacy our network has done over the past 16 months. Time does go fast when you’re having fun.
We followed the Every Newborn Action Plan negotiations and shared the live tweets and compiled them in a Storify. Updates on the Every Newborn Action Plan received over 500 views.
Social Good Moms tweeted their support of the Every Newborn Action Plan encouraging countries to adopt the plan during the World Health Assembly. We reached nearly 1 million Twitter impacts as a collective voice. See the voices in Mom Bloggers Stand Up for Newborn Health and the impact.
The Social Good Moms who tweeted in support of the report sent out 170 tweets, reached 1.2 million Twitter accounts and garnered 1.7 million impressions.
Every Newborn Action Plan Comments
Also, in February we rallied members of the Global Team of 200 to leave comments on the Every Newborn Action Plan WHO page to engage as concerned citizens of civial society. Some of the many comments left by the team were:
“I think the continuum of care is key. The number of stillborn deaths was staggering to me. Access to skilled health care workers during pregnancy and even preconception can clearly make a big difference. Education around these options will be important, particularly in the harder to reach communities.” – Jennifer Barbour
“There needs to be a minimum standard of care that is provided to each country/organization to ensure the quality of care is comparable and sufficient.” – Julia Gibson
“I strongly believe in expanding the training of midwives and frontline healthcare workers on the ground in each country especially in the rural and remote regions of the developing world. Vaccines are also extremely important and effective at saving lives. They are cost-effective it should be ensured that all children are vaccinated on schedule. Education for women on childbirth, pregnancy planning and caring for their newborn (including safe births, the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of vaccines and regular check-ups) also is very important.” – Nicole Melancon
Social Good Mom and member of the Global Team of 200, Stacey Weckstein, traveled to Indonesia with Save the Children to report on maternal, newborn and child heath. Her updates were fantastic and showed how Save the Children implements programs on the ground.
I along with Social Good Mom and Global Team of 200 member, Nicole Melancon, traveled to India for the first Social Good Moms insight trip. We visited Save the Children’s work with mothers’ groups in Delhi as well as a mobile unit for maternal, child, and newborn care, Mothers’ groups are one of the key interventions that help save the lives of newborns through education and awareness.
185 moms tweeted their support of #newborn2013 reaching 3.1 million people.
As a a network of moms we crowdsourced ideas about what we thought should go into the Every Newborn Action Plan. See the interactive infographic of our suggestions.It had nearly 1000 views and 2441 tag hovers.
We worked closely with Save the Children to spread awareness about their breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies: How Overcoming Barriers Will Save Children’s Lives. For 24 hours straight 24 Social Good Moms shared intimate stories about their personal breastfeeding journeys while telling their individual audiences about the important work Save the Children does around the world for mothers and their newborns. We chronicled the entire 24 hours on a tumblr blog, Advocating for the First Hour, so these beautiful stories from moms lived somewhere special online. A global effort, moms from the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, and Nigeria as well as here in the States participated.
This article was originally published on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists.
Every year Save the Children releases its annual State of the World’s Mothers report and each year a magnifying glass is held up to motherhood around the world and how mothers fare based solely on where they live. Now in its fifteenth year, Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report puts into clear perspective the countries where motherhood is best and worst. This year Save the Children focuses its attention on motherhood in crisis.
Devastating crises have popped up across the globe, some of them ongoing and others that are fairly new, relatively speaking. No conflict, of course, is beneficial for the health and welfare of mothers and their children. In fact, women and children are precisely the ones who tend to suffer most during times of civil unrest, natural disasters, and all-out wars. Internal conflicts break families apart, cause families to flee to neighboring countries to then become refugees, or they become trapped inside of their home country and internally displaced. Basic services such as food assistance and health care then become scarce causing undue damage to the lives of children and the mothers who take care of them. The same is true for natural disasters that can irreparably ruin families’ lives and livelihoods.
This year over 60 million women and children are in need of humanitarian assistance according to the report and Save the Children has responded to nearly 120 humanitarian crises in 48 countries. Mothers and children, therefore, who are trapped in fragile countries are more susceptible to death and disease. We already know that 800 women die in childbirth and 18,000 children under the age of five die as a direct result of preventable disease every day. Did you know that half of these deaths for both women and children occur in countries that are fragile meaning there is a lack of good governance and political stability that leaves a country’s citizens open and vulnerable to a range of disasters whether man-made or natural.
During any crisis situation expectant mothers are in particular perilous situations. Obstetric services are often halted save for rudimentary services that many not be equipped to save a mother’s life in critical situations, that is if a pregnant woman is lucky. She may have to give birth alone in the bush or in the back of truck fleeing across the border to save her life and the life of her newborn.
The lives of newborns, of course, are also at increased risk when a mother gives birth in high-intensity, crises situations where mothers worry not only about giving birth to a healthy baby, but also simply staying alive.
As aforementioned, when countries experience crisis situations ordinary citizens suffer most. Health systems suffer. Frontline health workers – even the most dedicated of them – may have to flee along with citizens to save their own lives. And furthermore, hospitals and health centers can become targets of destruction in civil unrest in order to hurt those who need the services most.
Consider the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) where sectarian violence has left nearly 3000 dead and hundreds of thousands of people homeless and without access to the most basic needs such as food, clean water, and sanitation. And now that the rainy season is nearing the hardships in people’s lives will be greatly intensified. It is no wonder that the CAR ranks 173rd in the report rankings.
“Nothing will stop a mother from trying to keep her children safe and protected,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, “But when disaster strikes, whether it’s a war in Syria, a tornado in Oklahoma or a typhoon in the Philippines, women and children are often at the greatest risk – up to 14 times more likely to die than men. Fortunately, our evidence also shows we can save and dramatically improve the lives of mothers and children, even in the most challenging places to live, if we invest in the services they need.”
In Syria where the civil war has been raging on for four years 1.4 million children and nearly 700,000 women have fled the country, according to the report. There are now over 200,000 women and girls of reproductive age inside and outside of Syria according to the UNFPA meaning there will be an increased necessity for obstetric and newborn health care and family planning services. And, in the case of civil unrest, rape and torture of women and girls are often used as weapons of war exacerbating gender-based violence.
Even in the United States when a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast, mothers and children with the least resources fared the worst amid the devastation and months of rebuilding. No matter the country or crises, women and children remain the most vulnerable communities to death, disease, abuse, and violence.
Through its report Save the Children is putting forth a reminder that in fragile countries the health of women and children remains a top priority and systems must be in placed to ensure they are not let down when they need help the most.