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 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. 

Links:

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.

Links:

Jun 9, 2011

Rima’s New Future

Rema feeds fish in the fish pond she started.
Rema feeds fish in the fish pond she started.

Rima is an 18 year-old girl from KharijJomal Char.  Rima’s father died leaving her family destitute. Rima hoped to take her secondary school examinations but feared that her family could not afford the examination fees. She was further frustrated to learn that her guardians were searching for a husband for her because there were few opportunities for Rima to earn money. 

Rima joined the Kishoree Kontha (KK) group, focused on developing the social and financial competencies of adolescent girls, empowering them to develop strong voices and shape a bright and healthy future for themselves.  Rima became a Peer Educator for the social competency unit and received 40 hours of basic training on the subject from Field Trainer Zinat.  Rima eagerly took part in the financial competency and educational support sessions and was excited when her group began “Safe Savings.” Rima started saving money each week from her school stipend and began to assess opportunities to engage in income-generating activities.  She yearned to practice her learning from the KK project and earn money to cover her examination fees.

Rima’s family possessed some unused land and a pond on its property and so at the conclusion of her Safe Savings cycle, Rima invested in tree saplings and fish so that she could cultivate both to sell. Rima currently has fish in her pond with a market value of 5000 Taka ($71) and she knows she can easily sell some to cover her examination fees.

Additionally, with the income she is earning, Rima can consider education beyond secondary school. “I am very happy that I could use the learning about finances to secure my educational future.  I now feel confident about pursuing additional education…I am really grateful to the project and Field Trainer Zinat who brought this program to us.”

Rima’s guardians have also been happy to see her become involved in income-generating activities.  Mujul Begum explained how Rima’s activities have reduced the household burden and helped prove that girls can be assets to their families. Mujul notes, “We are no longer looking for a groom for her marriage. We like the Kishoree Kontha activities. Before, girls spent any extra money [from their lunch or transportation allowances] on cosmetics and other unnecessary items. But now they are saving and this will help them have positive futures.” 

Rima has been encouraging other girls in her area to save and engage in income generating activities that can help secure their futures and change the way their families view them. Field Trainer Zinat is proud of Rima’s achievements and commented: “It makes me happy when I see how confident Rima is. When I met her for the first time, she was very introverted and scared about her education. Now she encourages other girls to continue their education and to earn money.  I think things changed for Rima because she regularly attended the [KK] peer education sessions and worked at applying her learning in her practical life. I now have high hopes for her future.”

Links:

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