Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
Mar 3, 2014

Outrage and Inspire - Gimme Nutrition

Baby being weighed in Chuicavioc, Guatemala
Baby being weighed in Chuicavioc, Guatemala

Esteemed Senior Fellow from the Chicago Council on Global Affaris, Roger Thurow, visited Save the Children's nutrition programs in Guatemala where we include our goat program as a tool to fight malnutrition. Here is his blog: 

There are several reasons why Guatemala sits atop the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index, a ranking compiled by the Institute of Development Studies in the UK measuring the political and social commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition in developing countries.

One, the Guatemalan government is beginning to implement a Zero Hunger Plan that aims to reduce chronic malnutrition in children less than five years of age by 10% by 2016. That would be quite a feat, since Guatemala has one of the world’s highest child stunting rates at 48%.

Two, the country’s influential public sector is backing the plan and has formed a business alliance against malnutrition, which annually diminishes Guatemala’s GDP by some 5%.

Three, the International Rabbits (Internacionales Conejos) are on the case. The Rabbits are arguably Guatemala’s most popular marimba band.  Working with the international humanitarian organization Save the Children, the Rabbits have provided a jaunty soundtrack to the national war on child stunting, which particularly emphasizes good nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene during the 1,000 days from when a women becomes pregnant to her child’s second birthday. After their hit song “Give the Breast,” about the importance of breastfeeding during the first six months, now comes the follow-up “Give Complementary Foods,” about the nutritional needs of children through two years.  Marimba has carried the health messages of the 1,000 days to the far reaches of the Western Highlands, where child malnutrition rates soar to 75%.

About the Author

Roger Thurow joined The Chicago Council on Global Affairs as senior fellow on global agriculture and food policy in January 2010 after three decades at The Wall Street Journal. For 20 years, he was a foreign correspondent based in Europe and Africa. His coverage of global affairs spanned the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the humanitarian crises of the first decade of this century–along with 10 Olympic Games. In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations.

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Jan 29, 2014

The Right to Learn

All Children Have the Right to Learn
All Children Have the Right to Learn

Parents throughout developing countries are frustrated by the staggering 40 percent of primary-school-age children who are unable to read, write, or do basic math by fourth grade, according to a new report.

Save the Children released the report, "Right to Learn," this afternoon at the United Nations during a presentation co-sponsored by Women Thrive Worldwide, UNICEF, the UN's Global Education First Initiative, UNESCO, ASER Pakistan, and the Center for Universal Education at Brookings Institution. The report's insights come as the global community considers next steps to the UN's Millennium Development Goals – the world's largest anti-poverty effort ever – which expire in December 2015.

The current set of goals have led to record numbers of girls and boys attending school, but learning outcomes in many areas remain grossly inadequate for preparing students to reach their professional aspirations as adults. Parents and advocates from India to Zimbabwe report high teacher absenteeism, overcrowded classrooms, poor facilities, lack of books and more.

"We are facing a real and global crisis in learning," said Meredy Talbot-Zorn, global development manager at Save the Children and co-author of the report. "Parents are frustrated. Right now, we are failing them, and failing children."

"This is a call to action for anyone who cares about the world's children," said Laura Henderson, director of education policy at Women Thrive Worldwide, and a reviewer of the report. "This report brings parents' concerns directly to the world leaders who will shape education priorities around the world."

The report shows that while parents expect their children to learn basic skills at school, they face many barriers for holding schools, service providers and government accountable. The report also cites several country examples of where parents and stakeholders are working together to improve accountability for children's progress in learning and getting positive results.

The findings of the report are based on qualitative research in seven countries, including Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

"When the current Millennium Development Goals were being created, parents and advocates from developing countries were largely left out from being able to provide input," continued Henderson. "That can't happen again. World leaders need to be accountable to parents for the quality of education that their children receive."

Save the Children has included six recommendations for UN institutions and member states to get education and learning for children right:

  • Ensure that voices from developing countries – especially civil society – inform the post-2015 framework and surrounding policy discussions.
  • Seize the opportunity during the post-2015 negotiations to advance an ambitious equitable learning goal for the next global framework.
  • Improve data collection that allows every country to reliably measure progress on learning outcomes and put systems in place to disaggregate data.
  • Commit to increased funding and target vital educational resources to the most marginalized groups in countries.
  • Improve accountability to local stakeholders by supporting both a global post-2015 equitable learning goal, and participatory, national level decision making to create national targets and indicators.
  • Empower all communities with information and transparency on school performance.

"There's just too much at stake for decision-makers not to listen to parents and advocates in developing countries about what needs to be done to improve education and learning for the world's children," said Talbot-Zorn.

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Jan 29, 2014

January Update on Typhoon Haiyan

Families in the Philippines are getting help.
Families in the Philippines are getting help.

The Philippines is an extremely disaster prone country – it has been affected by close to 200 disasters over the last decade. Building back better to increase communities’ resilience to disasters must guide the recovery and rehabilitation process. 

Reaching the most vulnerable children remains urgent. Humanitarian assistance is still needed to prevent deterioration of health and nutrition, to ensure that livelihoods can be re-established and to secure children’s safety. In the absence of rapid planning and delivery on shelter, health care and clean water the lives of children remain at risk.

We are currently running 28 Child Friendly Spaces in Eastern Leyte, and 8 in Ormoc, where children can play and learn skills to cope with tragedy in the aftermath of the disaster. On Panay we have begun activities on the "Save Boat" which will identify and respond to needs on the offshore islands.

Our response in nutrition and health care remains strong. In just one week, more than 1,600 children received emergency therapeutic food to prevent acute malnutrition. To date, more than 4,700 children have been screened malnutrition. In just one week, our mobile health unit saw a total of 722 patients in Eatern Leyte. On Panay, 798 new consultations were held, and access to health services was provided for the population of 3 new barangays.

To help families rebuild their lives, we continue distributions of shelter and household items. In Leyte, we have distributed household kits, hygiene kits, blankets, plastic basins, kitchen sets, tarpaulin, tool kits, water jugs and water purification tablets. In Ormoc, 200 rapid response toilets have been completed and on Panay we distributed 125 boxes of water treatment products to 25 elementary schools, benefiting 11,781 students. 

Many children have been out of school since the disaster, but education is being restored. In Ormoc, we 176 classrooms to reopen tarping the roofs. An additional 43 temporary learning spaces have been made light materials. 

Thank you for your generosity. Together, we are making a difference. 

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