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.
Jul 25, 2011

The Disaster’s Impact on Save the Children

Susan Warner / Save the Children
Susan Warner / Save the Children

The earthquake had a profound impact for Save the Children, which has worked continuously in Haiti since 1978.  On the afternoon of the disaster, we had approximately 160 national and international staff conducting development programs in health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, education, child protection and emergency relief during Haiti’s frequent floods and storms. The urgent needs created by the earthquake required Save the Children to quickly initiate what became our largest humanitarian aid mission to date in the Western Hemisphere. By June 2010, there were some 1,200 staff, the vast majority of whom were working on relief and recovery programs.

As of June 2011, our Haitian staff numbered 757. While some will be leaving the agency as grant-funded programs end, there will be approximately 430 national and international staff at the end of this year—more than double the number prior to the earthquake.

Save the Children’s reach has also grown.  In 2009, some 1.6 million Haitians directly or indirectly benefited from our work. In 2010, with much of our attention focused on the earthquake, we reached 2.1 million children and adults through earthquake relief; relief for those affected by a late-season tropical storm; responses to the cholera epidemic; and through development programs that were restarted. We are also now in the second year of a five-year earthquake recovery initiative focusing on education, health, nutrition and child protection to benefit 1 million children and adults. 

With more staff in place, Save the Children seeks to take advantage of this opportunity and provide training to improve the effectiveness of our programs and the required support services and increasingly nationalize our workforce.  This not only addresses the very real needs of our Haitian staff today in terms of building their skills and leadership, but reflects Save the Children’s global commitment to sustainability, local participation and the long-term development of civil societies by creating talent pools of trained and skilled national staff wherever we work.

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Jul 21, 2011

Best Practices in Goat Management: The Pen

Proper Goat Pen
Proper Goat Pen
The Goat Pen

The project requires that each family build a pen that sits above the ground, with a slotted floor, lamina roof and attached trough for food and water (see Cartilla Técnica for Modulo Pecuario Caprino).  Each family is provided with the lamina and nails, and expects the family to contribute the wood and any other materials needed to complete the pen.

This manner of keeping the goat has a number of advantages over the traditional pastoral method:

 Allows the family to collect the manure that falls through the slotted floor for use as organic fertilizer;

  1. Prevents the goat from eating poisonous fruit trees or trash (which is a growing problem in the Guatemalan countryside);
  2. Is beneficial for the health of the animal in avoiding parasites; and
  3. Allows the family to monitor and control the impregnation of the goat.

Families are provided with three pieces of lamina, costing approximately Q83 (about $11) each.  Pen construction requires at least 8 boards, which as of July 2008 cost approximately Q20 each, for a cost of Q160-200 ($21 - $27).  There is also the opportunity cost of the time spent building the pen. 

Specifications for building the pens are found in the Cartilla Técnica.  In each community the GA builds the first pen at his home with the help of the male heads of households that will receive goats.  In this way the heads of household learn the specifications of how the pen should be built, with the goal of replicating the specifications in their own pens. 

While great variation was observed among the resulting goat pens, most met a minimum standard for safety and health.  The most common problem observed with goat pens were floors with inadequate, or a complete absence of, openings through which the manure should fall.  Poorly constructed floors causes the build up of feces, which is detrimental to the goat’s health.  In one community families were concerned because the lamina for the pens had not arrived before the goats and so there was no way of protecting them from the rain.  

The Cartilla Técnica specifies that the feeding trough be attached externally to the pen, and that the water source (usually a plastic dish) be kept in one end of the trough.  While almost all pens visited had a feeding trough, a significant percentage of goats visited had no water source at the time of visit, or the water dish was kept inside the pen.  The former is contrary to the best practice advising that goats should have water available at all times, and the latter is unacceptable because the water becomes dirty with manure.  The Cartilla Tecnica also specifies that each pen have a small wooden box nailed inside the pen for holding salt and minerals needed by the goat. 

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Jul 21, 2011

State of the World's Mothers

Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers ranks 164 countries on women’s access to health care, education and opportunities. Norway is the world’s best place to be a mother, and eight of the 10 top-ranked countries are in Western Europe. The remaining two are in the southern hemisphere, with Australia ranking second and New Zealand eighth.

This year, the United States ranks 31st of 44 developed countries, dropping three spots from last year’s rankings. Meanwhile, eight of the world’s 10 worst countries to be a mother are in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the worst place in the world to be a mother is Afghanistan.

Despite ongoing conflict and rising civilian casualties, expecting mothers in Afghanistan are at least 200 times more likely to die during childbirth than from bombs or bullets. One in 11 Afghan women will die from pregnancy or childbirth complications in her lifetime and only 14 percent of mothers in the country give birth with help from any kind of skilled health worker. In Norway, by comparison, the risk of maternal mortality is only 1 in 7,600 and nearly all births are attended by skilled help.

Afghanistan is also the most dangerous place to be born. One in five children will die before their fifth birthday. Afghan girls attend school for an average of only five years and female life expectancy is only 45. Compare that to Norway, where 1 in 333 children die before age 5 and women typically complete 18 years of school and live to age 83.

“In many countries, vaccines, antibiotics, and care during pregnancy are hard to reach and as a result child and maternal death rates are very high,” said Mary Beth Powers, chief of Save the Children’s newborn and child survival campaign. “This Mother’s Day, world leaders should honor mothers everywhere by ensuring they can celebrate what they want most — healthy children. That means helping all families, moms and babies be within reach of a trained health worker.”

The full 2011 State of the World’s Mothers report, titled “Champions for Children: Why Investing in Maternal and Child Health in Developing Countries is Good for America” can be found at http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6743707/k.219/State_of_the_Worlds_Mothers_2011.htm.

It includes the rankings and essays from former Senators Bill Frist and John Corzine, best-selling authors Rick and Kay Warren, former Xerox Chair Anne Mulcahy and actress Jennifer Garner. The site will also feature an embeddable documentary from Link TV’s ViewChange.org that takes a global tour of what’s working in the fight to improve and save the lives of at-risk mothers and children.

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