An Appetite for Change: 2011 Hunger Report on Ending Hunger and Malnutrition

Jessica headshot Jessica Harris

Media Relations Intern, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

 

The 2011 Hunger Report is a “200 page hooray” for U.S. leadership and focus on global food security, said Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann.  Nodding in agreement were Mr. Beckmann’s fellow panelists, Dr. Rajiv Shah of USAID, Roger Thurow of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Inger Andersen of The World Bank, and Carolyn Miles of Save the Children.

Each night, 925 million people go to bed hungry.  This number, which has increased in past years due to a spike in food prices in 2007-2008, is unacceptable.  In a world of plenty, how is it that so many have to suffer through malnutrition and hunger pains on a daily basis? 

This is the question the panelists addressed today as they discussed the key focus points of the Hunger Report and the programs that will help to reduce the number of malnourished children.  According to Inger Andersen, one in five children worldwide is malnourished.  Save the Children’s Carolyn Miles emphasized that child malnutrition creates lifelong and generational impacts:  growth is stunted, immune systems are compromised, and cognitive function is negatively affected.  The first 1,000 days – from pregnancy to age two – is the critical time for child development.

 


     

In an effort to eradicate hunger, the 2011 report has outlined various programs that focus on linking agricultural practices with good nutrition.  Dr. Shah highlighted ways to introduce farmers to crops such as drought-resistant corn and more nutritional grains, increasing family income as well as improving health.  Carolyn Miles recommended that these programs happen on the ground in an integrated way to ensure that families grow foods packed with nutrition, citing the example of a family in Guatemala that she recently visited.  The family has two sons with a three year age difference, yet both children are the same height and weight because the younger son had the benefit of a Save the Children integrated agriculture, nutrition, and livestock project.

During the question and answer session, one reporter asked Dr. Shah how participating organizations will measure the success of these anti-hunger programs.  Dr. Shah responded by expressing that hunger will not be eradicated in five years.  This is just not feasible. However, the main goal right now is to target five to ten countries, decrease the number of people who go hungry every day, and use those examples to prove that this can be done on a larger scale.  

As the discussion came to a close, the panelists highlighted the most important points to take away from the well received report.  According to Carolyn Miles, it is “critical that we focus on the most vulnerable families.”  In perhaps one of the most powerful statements made Monday morning, Dr. Shah concluded the discussion by calling the fight against hunger the “challenge of our time.”


A Hands-On Approach to Water, Hygiene, and Sanitation in Schools.

Jessica headshotJessica Harris

Media Relations Intern, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blue skies and sunshine abounded as I walked down Connecticut Avenue yesterday morning on my way to the Academy for Educational Development’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene event. Birds were chirping, people were sharing a laugh on a street corner, and I even caught myself humming a tune as I approached the AED building.

This feeling of joy soon dissappeared as I began to tour the WASH exhibit.

Did you know that 50% of schools worldwide do not have access to clean water?  As I read the children’s stories from developing countries that are currently displayed in the AED exhibit, I chastised myself for being so naïve to the plights of others.

As the crowd found their seats, Jon Hamilton of NPR introduced us to Jack Downey of AED, Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and the three panelists who would be speaking.

In total, seven people addressed the audience. The message, however, was the same.  By implementing WASH programs in schools in developing countries, we are improving the quality of life for the students as well as their families.

Tippy station

A "Tippy Station", complete with water, soap, and hand towels, was available for attendees to take turns washing their hands during the event.

Denise Knight, Water Sustainability Manager for The Coca-Cola Co., shared a story that highlighted the importance of providing clean water to developing countries.

During one visit to a community in which WASH programs were just being introduced, one community member said that they had been getting their water from the nearby stream for as long as she could remember. It had never dawned on them that the water was contaminated. It was, though, and the community had had its fair share of loss because of the dirty water. At the time, there was only one child under the age of 5 still living in the town.

Stories like these make you stop and think about how lucky we are. I rarely question whether I will be able to wash my hands with soap and water when I use the restroom or sit down to eat. Even less common is my fear of contracting an illness like worms or hepatitis from tainted water. To take this one step further, and to be completely honest, I have never thought about dying from contracting a preventable illness like diarrhea.

This is a real fear, though, for many children across the globe: 1.5 million children die from diarrhea annually.

As I left the WASH event today I felt as though I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. Here I had been enjoying listening to my iPod and drinking my $5 Starbucks coffee just two hours earlier, and now I could not stop thinking about the millions of children to whom contamination and severe illness are an everyday threat due to the lack of clean water.

The work done by organizations like Save the Children, UNICEF, AED, and others is commendable and, in reality, a lifesaver.

_______________________

Update:

Today, October 15,  is Global Handwashing Day. Bloggers around the world are raising awareness of the topic by posting about water as part of Blog Action Day, an annual event intended to spark global action. 

Save the Children Loves Dirty Words

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist

Westport, CT

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

 

For the past two weeks Save the Children has been promoting "dirty words" in a new YouTube series. No, not the dirty words that George Carlin talked about, that's a whole different thing. OUR dirty words are germs, toilets, worms and dirty water.

What's the point?

Our "Dirty Word" series is bringing light to the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions at schools in developing countries, and sharing the simple, inexpensive solutions that are helping children stay healthy so they can stay in school and learn.

We've installed toilets, hand-washing stations and hand pumps, and provided de-worming medicines in about 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America as are part of our School Health and Nutrition programs

Watch our "Dirty Words" YouTube series to learn how simple things, including sanitation and hygiene measures, have benefited school children in Nepal

Fast Facts

  • Each year, children miss 272 million school days because of diarrhea 
  • Two out of three schools in poor countries do not have decent toilets.
  • About 400 million school-age children in the developing world have worms- think about that next time you have a stomach ache.
  • Almost 1 billion people lack clean drinking water globally

Global Handwashing Day is October 15. Help raise awareness by taking part in Global Handwashing Day and sharing our “Dirty Words” YouTube videos.

While the name may sound trivial, our friends from GlobalHandWashingDay.org  explain the impact that the day can have:

"Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths."

A word from our friends

"The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 13 parasitic and bacterial infections [like worms] that affect over 1.4 billion people, but, as their name suggests, they have traditionally received little attention from the international community."

-The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases 

"Water and sanitation are human rights, vital to reducing poverty around the world. Together with good hygiene these essential services are the building blocks for all other development – improving health, education and livelihoods."

-Water Aid

Join Us for Global Handwashing Day on October 15

Handwashing cropped By Save the Children's Manager of School Health and Nutrition in Pakistan

Pakistan

October 8, 2010


Have you washed your hands today?

What may seem to be a common practice to you is not so common in other parts of the world. 

Next week, Pakistan will join countries around the globe to promote “Global Handwashing Day” on October 15. 

Why the need for a Global Handwashing Day? 

Each year, children worldwide miss 272 million school days because of diarrhea. One of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of diarrhea and other diseases is by washing your hands.  But many school children, including children here in Pakistan, have no access to clean water or soap at their schools.

Last year, on the night before Global Handwashing Day, I received a text message.  It said, “Washing hands with soap can reduce 30% of diarrheal deaths in children.”  Several more text messages rapidly followed, each highlighting the benefits of handwashing.

One of Save the Children’s education officers in Khyber PakhtunKhwa Province (KPK) came up with the idea for the texting campaign as a way to spread the message to a lot of people in a short time.  And, the best part — it cost almost nothing.  He estimates that up to 3,000 teachers, community members and parent-teacher council members at the 150 schools where Save the Children works participated in the texting campaign, sending messages to their family and friends. 

This year, we have lots of fun school activities planned, from poster competitions to skits to street walks with public officials, teachers, community members and children.  

We will be posting photos of some of our activities and others from around the globe here on our blog, so we hope you’ll check back on October 15.  Let us know what you are planning for that day, too.

Looking for a way to get involved?  Why not share Save the Children’s new “dirty word” video on germs and the importance of handwashing.

WASH on The Hill

Jessica headshotJessica Harris

Media Relations Intern, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dr. Pamela Young's message was heard loud and clear Wednesday morning at the “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Schools in the Developing World” briefing on Capitol Hill, moderated by Save the Children's Seung Lee, head of our global school health and nutrition programs. If the issue at hand is affecting children, get the children involved.     

Dr. Young, the PLAN representative, spoke this morning about water and hygiene programs in developing countries, primarily in schools.     

PLAN, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and many other groups are working across the globe to teach basic hygiene practices, provide clean water, and install latrines, for the students to use and to boost school enrollment.     

“The key challenges boil down to two things”, said Dr. Dennis Warner of Catholic Relief Services. “The first is getting the children into school.  The second is keeping them there.” He added that by improving sanitation, which in turn improves the health and well-being of children, more students will be able to attend school on a regular basis. 

Watch our "Dirty Words" video to find out how Save the Children improved sanitation conditions in Nepal    


 

Three high school students from H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, Va., highlighted the need to improve conditions for children in developing countries. These high school juniors, along with other members of their class, are involved with H2O for LIFE, which stands for Help 2 Others, a school-to-school program that was founded by a group of teachers in Minnesota.

Water_Hygiene 001

Cecilia Allen, Delaney Steffan, Mary Shields of H.B. Woodlawn High School, and Seung Lee of Save the Children pose outside of the briefing room with the Washington Monument in the background.

The group’s mission is to make a difference; their plan is to take it one step at a time. Mary Shields, one of the students, emphasized this when she said “anything you do is at least something.” This fact, often lost in the theory that one person cannot create change, is vital to the cause. Every little bit helps.    

On a side note, this was my first Capitol Hill briefing and I have to say I was impressed with the attitude these students had about helping others. For people that age to focus on saving lives in countries they have never even visited is a testament to their understanding that they are citizens of a global community.      

I look forward to attending more briefings and am honored to be a part of Save the Children…at least until December!

Moscow: From &#147The Bourne Supremacy&#148 to Babies and Toddlers

 Katherine Brown Katherine Brown, Information and Documentation Specialist, Education and Child Development department

Moscow

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

 

 Moscow is known for its architecture, its ballet, and as the setting for “The Bourne Supremacy.” But this week, Moscow turned its attention to the world's babies and toddlers, when it hosted the first-ever global conference on Early Childhood Development and Education.

More than 50 ministers of education, finance and health attended the UNESCO-sponsored event, designed to elevate the need for countries to invest in early learning opportunities globally, and to engage them in committing political will and resources to early childhood development programs.

Research shows that children with early learning opportunities tend to do better in school and in life.  According to a 2006 UNICEF report, more than 30 governments had established national early childhood development policies, and more than 70 countries had national commissions coordinating these programs.  Yet, more than half of the world’s governments do not have any policy or mechanism in place for early childhood development.

So you can see why there is a need to focus on early learning globally, beginning at infancy.

Save the Children is here to share some of our learning and to learn from others, too.

Today, Save the Children’s senior director of Early Childhood Development Pablo Stansbery, PhD., spoke on a panel, which examined early childhood education in emergency and post-emergency settings

 
Pablo Moscow Panel

Here are a few of the points that Pablo shared:
 

  • Early learning experiences matter for young children, especially in emergency situations, and social interactions are key. Young children interpret new experiences through interaction with caregivers.
  • When governments are developing emergency preparedness and response plans (EPRP) as well as Disaster Risk Reduction plans (DRR), these plans should include an early childhood development component. 
  • In order for these plans to be effective, governments must provide guidance and training for caregivers and emergency responders on meeting the needs of children.
  • Nepal, for example, has held education in emergencies training sessions that included an early childhood development component. The government also included early childhood development in its national emergency response policy, and it provided kits for use in safe and secure areas of emergency settings tailored to young children. Those kits contained games, stories, reading and play materials for babies and toddlers, as well as for school-aged children.
  • In emergencies, all sectors must be integrated to provide care for infants and toddlers, not just the education sector. In fact, health is also critical – and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) elements in particular are important.  For example, families and caregivers need clean water to wash and sanitize toys.   
  • Two helpful resources for more information: Even in Chaos: Education in times of Emergency by Kevin M. Cahill, M.D.; and a special section in the July/August 2010 issue of Child Development, which focuses on the developmental impact on young children after emergencies.

The three-day conference ended today with the adoption of a framework of action, which outlines a number of challenges that must be tackled to achieve global Early Childhood Development and Education goals. These include addressing the need for greate r political commitment, public funding, and external support and effective delivery of services – a framework of goals that does not require a great super agent like Jason Bourne to tackle. Just committed governments and communities working together.

Child Survival, Malnutrition and Giant Poos


Dhheadshot  Dave Hartman, 
Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist

New York, New York

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Save the Children staff was all over New York City advocating for a renewed commitment to achieving the U.N Millennium Development Goals. The morning kicked off with “Five Years for Children: Achieving the MDGs with Equity,” a panel discussion featuring Elisabeth Dahlin, Secretary General of Save the Children Sweden, Dr. Abhay Bang of SEARCH and senior executives from World Vision, Plan International and UNICEF. In the video below Dahlin gives a brief overview of the discussion.

Save the Children Board Chair Anne Mulcahy attended an event sponsored by the U.S. and Irish governments to address malnutrition among children. Malnutrition weakens children’s immune systems and makes them more susceptible to major life-threatening childhood illnesses. Mulcahy elaborates on the event:

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, was interviewed by Sian To, aka “Mummy Tips,” a mommy blogger from the UK. To recently returned from Bangladesh where she blogged about Save the Children’s health work in remote areas of the country.

In uptown Manhattan, staff members heard from various speakers and panelists at the UN Week Digital Media Lounge, hosted by the 92Y with support from Mashable and the United Nations Foundation. Here are just a few of our favorite quotes from the summit and other events Save the Children attended:

“Children are not just our future, they are our present… they are powerful actors who need to be engaged” Kevin Jenkins CEO of WorldVision

“I wish there was a rock star against Diarrhea, that would be awesome!”- UN Foundation’s Elizabeth Gore

“When you change the lives of girls and women, you also change the lives of boys and men.” World Bank’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

“The Millennium Development Goals have been good, but not been good enough for the most marginalized children” Alfred Ironside, Director of Communications, Ford Foundation 

A vicious, relentless killer was spotted outside the lounge (sort of). Water Aid, a nonprofit dedicated to providing universal access to clean water, had staff members parade around the city in a giant poop costume, complete with fake flies. The goal was to raise awareness of inadequate sanitation and hygiene in developing countries, two issues that contribute to more than 4,000 child deaths in the developing world, perday. Enough from me, Steve from Water Aid can better explain:

Check back tomorrow for another update, you can follow along live by visiting our Facebook page or following us on Twitter.

Reading: The Spark that Lights up Children’s Eyes


Cec Cecilia Ochoa, Senior Specialist for Basic Education & Literacy

Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Imagine what your life would be like if you weren’t able to read. What basic tasks would you be unable to do? What simple pleasures would you be unable to enjoy? 

Reading is a skill many of us take for granted. But for millions of children in the countries and communities where Save the Children works, reading remains a struggle.   

Parents typically have little time or training to help children learn the alphabet, or to make the link between the words they speak and the letters on a page. Books are few and far between, and are written in the school language, which is different from what children speak at home.   

Teachers without training often teach reading in the same way they were taught—mainly through drills and repetition, with limited time spent on teaching key skills or on ways to learn as you read text.    Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program promotes training teachers and creating a culture of reading outside of the classroom. Photo Credit: Brent Stirton for Save the Children

Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program promotes training teachers and
creating a culture of reading outside of the classroom. 

Photo Credit:  Brent
Stirton for Save the Children

In 2007, Save the Children set out to measure how well children in the early grades in Nepal, Malawi and Ethiopia could read. The results were startling.  We found an alarming number of children unable to read even a single word in a text or passage.  

We decided we needed to do something to change this. That’s how Save the Children developed Literacy Boost, our signature program for helping children learn to read. Here is how it works: 

Through Literacy Boost, children in the early grades are given opportunities to practice their reading skills both in-school and in their homes and communities. Book Banks of storybooks in the local language are provided so that children have materials to read other than their textbooks.  

Community volunteers also are mobilized to conduct weekly Reading Camps for children, where children can listen to stories, read books, and play games to improve their reading skills. Parents are coached on activities they can do with their children at home to improve language skills, even if they are not literate themselves. 

Teachers are trained in strategies for teaching the five skills needed for reading. And children’s reading skills are measured at the start and end of the school year to track their progress and identify where they still need more help.   

During a recent trip to Nepal, I was heartened by how the schools and communities had embraced the program.

“Before Literacy Boost started here in Kailali, there were no storybooks for children available in the community,” Anita, a Reading Camp facilitator told me. “Now, they have story books and fables in both Nepali and Tharu. This has brought the habit of reading to the community. Even parents are more interested about reading now.” 

The results are encouraging. In a year’s time, children who participated in Literacy Boost had increased their reading scores significantly compared to those from non-assisted schools.  

But it is the spark that lights up children’s eyes when they talk about books that especially inspires me.

“I like the stories, especially the one with the monkey,” said Kamal, age 7, one of Literacy Boost’s participants in Nepal. “When I borrow a book to take home, I can read it to my whole family. We can all enjoy the story together.”

Ishwor Khatry, Save the Children’s tireless education coordinator in Kailali, shares my sentiment. He said, “Through this program, we can really see that we are making a difference.”

Cruel Irony: No Clean Water in Flood-affected Pakistan

Iwoolverton 

Ian Woolverton, Save the Children Media Manager

Sukkur District, Pakistan

Friday, August 27, 2010

 

 I had to choke back tears as I watched a doctor supported by Save the Children give Ramzan, a 2-year-old boy, fluids in a feverous attempt to reverse the devastating effects of severe dehydration. 

Ramzan’s mother, Hajra, looked on anxiously as the doctor explained that she must help her son drink electrolytes to replace lost fluids. 

Make no mistake, Ramzan is gravely ill.  He has reached a dangerous level of dehydration brought on by watery diarrhea. No wonder. For the last fifteen days mother and child have lived on a baking concrete floor in one of the hundreds of camps that have sprung up in Sukkur district. 

Before floodwaters broke the banks of the River Indus, Ramzan lived with his eleven brothers and sisters in Jacobabad. Now they are destitute and face an uncertain future. 

At the camp Dr. Sheikh impressed upon me his concerns for a second wave of disaster — an outbreak of flood-related illnesses like diarrhea, malaria and skin infections. 

These types of preventable but communicable conditions send shivers down the spine. With still pools of water visible in most camps, reported cases of malaria are rising.

Biggest killer of children

But watery diarrhea concerns us most.  It robs the body of fluids, which can lead to heat stroke, kidney failure and death. 

The sad truth: diarrhea is the biggest killer of children under the age of five. Yet low-tech, low-cost solutions like packets of oral rehydration salts can help prevent children from becoming dangerously dehydrated. 

In many cases families are sourcing water from stagnant pools, which often contain human and animal waste.  This might sound ghastly, but what would you do if your son or daughter were desperately thirsty and drifting in and out of consciousness? Might you accept the risks of drinking dirty water in the hope of alleviating the suffering of your child? 

Factor in the stifling heat — temperatures soars high into the forties — and drinking contaminated water might not seem such a bad idea.  There’s a cruel irony at play in flood-affected Pakistan. Despite being swamped by billions of gallons of water, children and families cannot get enough safe water. 

____________________

 

Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan

Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.

 

“If Education Can Still Go Forward, Haiti Has a Chance”


Susan-Warner-in-Haiti-2010 Susan Warner-Lambert
Manager of Photography

June 28th, 2010

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

I recently returned from my first trip to Haiti. I took the photo below at the École Eddy Pascal School in Port-au-Prince. Their school building was destroyed in the January 12th earthquake. With the help of Save the Children, the school is now set up in several tents.

I chose to highlight this picture from their recess activities because I like the action and composition, but also because it represents to me what is right about Haiti. There is so much needed in infrastructure and resources, but as long as education can still go forward for the next generation, then Haiti has a chance.

I encourage you to post your comments and/or questions!

Haiti jump roping


Photo credit: Susan Warner – Save the Children 2010

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.