Thank You from Safiatou

6a0120a608aa53970c01bb08db208a970d-120wi Safiatou, a Formerly Sponsored Child

Save the Children in Mali

April 15, 2016

My name is Safiatou. I was born on February 19th, 1997 and I live in the village of Kassanso with my parents. I have two brothers and two sisters. I am attending 9th grade in preparatory school, and have been enrolled in the Sponsorship program since I was in 4th grade. I was sponsored that same year and I remained with this sponsor until I reached the age limit for sponsorship, when I turned 18.

During my sponsorship I received many letters from my sponsor filled with kind words. He encouraged me in my studies. He always told me about the importance of education in life. I followed his advice, which helped me and continues to help me in my education.

My sponsor would send me puzzles, too. I needed careful reflection and concentration to complete them. It was an interesting activity, which I had never done before! My friends were not able to restore the puzzle, but I did not have much difficulty.

Thanks to the Sponsorship program, my community has benefited from three new classrooms, latrines with handwashing kits and a school headmaster’s office. We also have a portable water pump, with easy access to clean water that we didn’t have before. Utensils and staple foods such as corn, rice and beans are now provided at our school canteen. Safiatou working on the last correspondence for her sponsor

6a0120a608aa53970c01bb08db20d7970d-320wiWith the encouragement of my sponsor on the importance of education I will continue studying hard. I want to have a successful life and become one of the leaders of my country. I will also encourage my siblings and friends to study well at school in order to succeed.

I send all my gratitude to Save the Children for my sponsorship and the changes made for my community. Special thanks to my sponsor, for his support and advice that I will continue to follow and share with the other children of my community.

For Safiatou, the relationship she built with her sponsor over the years has changed her outlook on life, given her a sense of purpose and encouraged her to dream big. For her and the other children in Kassanso, the benefits of Sponsorship go beyond improving the health and quality of education for students, but also gives them a sense of pride and self-worth. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Safiatou!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Bringing the SDGs Down-to-Earth

6a0120a608aa53970c01bb085b704d970d-120wiAndrew Wainer, Director of Policy Research

Milagros Lechleiter, PPA Intern

April 15, 2016

The United Nations General Assembly approved the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 with massive fanfare: Pope Francis and President Obama were just two of the luminaries on hand to usher in the 17 goals and 169 targets covering everything from climate change to governance to poverty eradication.

But even as the SDGs overflow with ambition and goodwill, the lack of mechanisms to operationalize them means that the lofty goals risk being unfulfilled.

Last month, Save the Children gathered a group of NGO representatives and policymakers from USAID at InterAction to discuss how to make the SDGs work – and specifically work through U.S. foreign assistance. The centerpiece of the discussion is Save the Children’s new report: “From Words to Actions: USAID’s Integration of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

6a0120a608aa53970c01bb08db152c970d-320wi
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Closing Session: Post-2015 Development Agenda, in General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York, N.Y. Sept. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo/ Pete Souza)

The report indicates that while USAID played a major role leading U.S government input into the United Nations (U.N.) SDG creation process – spearheadedby USAID’s Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) bureau – there is less certainty on how to take the goals forward. “It will take a while to figure it out,” one USAID official interviewed for the report said. The report also reveals that USAID is in the early stages of aligning its workaday operations with the imperatives of the SDGs and it will take continued effort – similar to that needed to shape the creation of the SDGs at the U.N. – to operationalize them at the agency.

This is no easy task and our report identifies several concrete recommendations on how the world’s bilateral largest foreign assistance agency can advance the process. These report recommendations include:

• The appointment of a SDG coordinator to monitor and manage progress on SDG integration across the U.S. government and to ensure momentum for the SDG agenda into the next administration.

• Consistent with SDG 10 on reducing inequality, USAID should set clear benchmarks to ensure that the poorest and most marginalized people, particularly those living in conflict-affected and fragile states, are making progress to achieve SDG targets.

• Make ambitious financing commitments to support the SDGs at key moments including at the Nutrition for Growth Summit and the next G7 and G20 Summits

Interviews with USAID policy staff for the report show that given the copious amount of U.S. government input into the SDGs during their creation, much of the USAID’s work already aligns with the goals.

6a0120a608aa53970c01bb08db157e970d-320wi
President Barack Obama addresses attendees during a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit at the U.N.’s headquarters in New York, Sept. 27, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

It was clear from the research that the previous Washington and U.N.-focused work which fed into shaping the SDGs is now shifting to the field with a focus on implementation. USAID headquarters has started a dialogue with its missions – simultaneously socializing the SDG concept with agency field staff and querying missions to assess how they can tailor their in-country work to align with the goals.

Given the scope of the goals, USAID will be challenged to integrate the SDGs into its operations; but given the momentum generated by its successful work on them at the United Nations, the SDGs don’t have to remain merely an ambition – they can be integrated into the daily work of governments, civil society organizations, and foreign assistance agencies like USAID.