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 5, 2014

Update from Somalia

Photo credit: Colin Crowley/Save the Children
Photo credit: Colin Crowley/Save the Children

After two decades of conflict, Somalia is the world’s most fragile state. Successive years of conflict, drought and flooding have put the country in a state of prolonged and chronic humanitarian crisis Population growth, increased pressure on resources, insecurity and prolonged political instability have made it harder for the poorest communities to cope with and recover from successive and recurrent shocks throughout the past two decades, particularly conflicts and droughts. Each shock sends the communities into deeper vulnerability and further erodes their means to prepare for the next crisis.

In 2011-2012, Somalia was badly affected by the first famine of the 21st century, leading for instance to massive displacements across the country. The scale and scope of that disaster has made it still very difficult for populations to recover, considering in particular that the country has faced several smaller-scale but recurrent shocks over the past couple of years: localized conflicts/displacements, flash flooding, IDP camp fires, etc.

For example, over 2013, Save the Children has responded to the following smaller-scale emergencies, in addition to its on-going higher-scale humanitarian programs:

-       Floods and cholera outbreak in Galgaduud;

-       IDP camps fires in Garowe, Bosasso and Hargeisa;

-       Support immediate food security needs in Mogadishu IDP camps

-       Evictions and Displacements

-       Polio and Measles Outbreak Mogadishu and Puntland

-       Floods in Puntland and Somaliland, following the passage of cyclone 03A;

To date, the overall humanitarian situation in Somalia remains critical and is expected to get worse in coming months as the impact of the poor Gu harvest is felt, especially in South and Central Somalia.

One million people still require aid to meet their basic needs and a further 1.7 million who recently emerged from the 2011 drought crisis could fall back into crisis without sustained support[1].

An estimated 70,000 children a year die before their fifth birthday, and 30.5% of women of reproductive age die due to pregnancy related causes.[2]

The ongoing conflict continues to cause death, upheaval and displacement.[3] Some more localized clan conflicts throughout the country also create further displacements and further pressure on scarce resources, for instance in Hiraan end of December 2013.

Food security in South Central Somalia is deteriorating as a result of failed sorghum harvests and a poor Gu harvest. The situation in parts of South and Central Somalia has been described by OCHA in its most recent bulletin as ‘dire’.

[1] http://www.unocha.org/cap/appeals/mid-year-review-consolidated-appeal-somalia-2013-2015

[2] http://www.who.int/hac/crises/som/sitreps/somalia_sitrep_october2013

[3] http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e483ad6

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.

Links:

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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