Time to Enshrine

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On September 12th, MPs will debate whether to enshrine the Governments  commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid into law. This blog posts from RESULTS Campaigns Manager, Dan Jones, outlines what the bill could achieve and how you can take action to ensure its advanced.

Politics is not always business as usual. Our UK Parliament usually debates and votes on policies and laws put forward by the Government. But every year, a few lucky MPs get drawn out of a hat and have the chance to put forward ‘Private Members Bills’ (PMBs) on a cause close to their heart (although the Party leaderships get their say one imagines).

This year, second out of the hat was Lib Dem MP and former Scotland Secretary Michael Moore, who has put forward the ‘International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill’ (1). Moore’s Bill would enshrine in law a UK Government spend of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) every year on aid for developing countries.

What this Bill Could Achieve

Engaged citizens are right to want to know if their generosity is really having an impact. The answer is an emphatic yes. UK development aid has a huge impact globally, including saving a child’s life through immunisation every two minutes for the cost of a cup of coffee. Over 10 million children every year have the chance to go to school because of UK citizens. Since 1990, along with other donors, we’ve helped to halve the global child mortality rate, saving over 6 million lives.

And the UK public, despite the protestations of a section of the media, do seem to be aware of the impact of their generosity. Recent research by ComRes has revealed that a level of 0.7% is supported by the majority of the UK public, and that they recognise the importance of development in achieving long term self-reliance and the realising of potential in developing countries.

Legislating for 0.7% would move the debate forward, away from amounts to the best way to use this development aid. It would make funding amounts more predictable for our partners, allowing better planning and value for money. As a percentage figure, it would also allow flexibility when times are hard. For more on why this Bill is such a great chance for development, please visit www.turnupsavelives.org.uk.

This is a great chance for all three main Parties to meet their Manifesto pledges to enshrine UK levels of development aid in law. And it’s not an increase in spending – we’ve already met the 0.7% target in spending. Instead it would secure this level for the future, after a 40-year wait to see it realised. We first committed to this target in a 1970 UN General Assembly resolution, but in the following 40 years only Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands reached this level. Praise is due to the current Government for their 2013 Budget, which marked the first time the UK had met the 0.7% target, and made us the first G8 nation to get there too.

What is the State of Play

However, the introduction of a Bill on 0.7% has been conspicuously absent from the Government’s Queen’s Speech announcements and we’ve had to wait for a Private Members Bill. After 40 years, we think Parliament should seize this chance to secure the UK’s commitment to development. David Cameron has now signalled the Government will support Moore’s Bill (2), and it has been welcomed by Labour’s Shadow Development Secretary Jim Murphy.

It’s not going to be an easy task however – there is a section of the media, and of Parliament, who are strongly ‘aid sceptic’, and though research shows they are the minority (?), they are vocal and do have influence. On a more practical note, the next step for the Bill – its ‘second reading’ – falls on a Friday morning when many MPs would normally be in their constituencies, and the Bill needs a hundred MPs to attend the session to move forward.

How You Can Make a Difference

Over the next few weeks, we’re encouraging constituents all over the country to contact their MPs and ask them to attend and support the Bill on September 12thFor a full list of the different ways you can do this, check of our September Action on the RESULTS website. 

Turn up, Save lives – September action and conference call announced

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On September 12th, we have an historic opportunity to make our secure the future of UK aid spending. That day, MP’s will be voting on Michael Moore MP’s Private Member’s Bill which seeks to enshrine our commitment to spending 0.7% of our Gross National Income on Overseas Aid.

On the day, we need to make sure that 100 supportive MPs are in the chamber and voting – we’re working hard with our partners from across the sector to ensure that MP’s know that they have to be there.

This month we’re going to be calling or visiting our MP’s, emailing the three party leaders calling for their support, and Tweeting our MP’s to get them in the room.

We will be discussing all of the actions, the politics behind the decisions, and much more on our monthly conference call, on Tuesday 2nd September at 7pm.

Our guest speaker on the call will be Baroness Alison Suttie. Baroness Suttie was Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to Nick Clegg, so she knows a thing or two about engaging politicians.

To join the call, you can call 0844 762 0762, 0203 398 1398 or 0800 22 90 900 and when prompted enter 18723#. If you would like to join your local RESULTS Group in your area for the meetings, please email Felix at RESULTS.

Between now and then, read up on our amazing action materials:

Action Sheet: Turn up, Save lives
Background Sheet 1: The Best Example of UK Aid
Background Sheet 2: Talking Points and Sample Tweets
Background Sheet 3: Common Questions about Aid and 0.7%

We look forward to you joining us

Felix Jakens

My Footsteps (2): Joe Hepworth, Central London Group

2014-07-29 06.23.03I am 33 years old and that was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I’ve just walked to and from work for three days in a row… that’s 10.5 miles each way, 63 miles in total. The two children from Rwanda who inspired me to do this challenge – whose names I shall probably never know – are around ten years old and for them, it’s a weekly routine.

Following in their footsteps gave me time to reflect (about 21 hours of it!).

By the end of the first day, my feet were absolutely covered in painful blisters. But I guess if you did that walk everyday, your feet would soon toughen up.

By the end of the second day, my muscles were sore and I ached with every step. But I guess if you did it everyday, your muscles would soon get stronger.

But what struck me most was just how much food I had to eat. Each day consisted of muesli x 1 bowl, pasta x 2 portions, banana x 2, Jelly Babies (not as nice as I remember), breakfast biscuits x 2 packets, orange x 2, nuts x 1 bag of and (at least) one chocolate bar. And I was still starving! When you walk, you burn off calories. No matter how often you do it, you still burn the same amount. That’s basic biology. And yet these children that we’re talking about live in some of the most malnourished parts of the world. It’s mind blowing to me now how they manage it…

I much preferred the pain of the blisters and aching muscles to the feeling I had when I just didn’t have the energy to take another step. Pain is often a mental barrier… it was a battle of will power… to keep moving forward, one tiny step at a time. But if you don’t physically have the strength, if there’s no fuel in the tank, then it doesn’t matter how much desire you have, you’re not going to get very far.

I hope that the money I’ve raised – and everyone donated – can help provide that fuel, because as I came to realise, will power alone just isn’t enough. I don’t just mean food, I mean books, teachers and schools. We have the resources to provide the things they need to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

And believe me, those two children in Rwanda – whose names I shall probably never know – have proved that if we can just provide resources, then they most definitely have the will power to change their lives. That’s something they have in abundance… I can now testify to that. And once you add our resources to that will power… they can find their own way out of poverty and to a dignified, independent future.

Support Joe’s fundraising efforts or sign up for your own Footsteps for Futures challenge here

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Good news and bad news in the fight against TB and mining

The last week has been one which has delivered some very good, and some very bad news in the fight against the TB epidemic in Southern Africa’s gold mines. It seems natural that this would be the case, so widespread and diffuse is the problem. Just as a solution seems to be appearing, a new problem arises.

Let’s start with the good news.

On Wednesday last week, South African Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe announced new plans for a partnership between mines and the municipal governments that they operate under to convert single-sex hostel style housing into family units. The move forms part of the objectives set out in the amendments to the Broad-Based Socio-Economic Empowerment Charter for the South African Mining and Minerals Industry (known as the mining charter) which seeks to address systemic problems within the mining industry.

One of the objectives of the Charter focuses on Housing and Living conditions and sets out an objective to ‘convert or upgrade hostels into family units by 2014′. While the main objective of the upgrade is stated as ‘bringing dignity to privacy to mineworkers’, and will no doubt do so, the move will also be seen as a win in the fight against TB.

Cramped, poorly ventilated hostels have long been a breeding ground for TB and other infectious diseases, as well as often acting as venues for the transmission of HIV through sex worker activity, ever-present in mining communities in which miners are separated from their families.

So, this is a welcome move , and one which RESULTS and our partners in Southern Africa have long been calling for in relation to the response to tackling tuberculosis. We shall wait patiently to see how quickly and widely these plans are implemented.

On a less positive note, new evidence has come to light that rates of TB are rising in miners working in South Africa’s platinum mines. Despite the absence of some of the more direct risk factors of gold mines, such as exposure to silica dust and very deep, unventilated working conditions, levels of TB are begining to rise among this group.

The new evidence some from forensic autopsy reports on 34 mine workers who were killed by police during a strike at the Marikana Platinum mine, in Rustenburg in 2012. Under the Occupational Diseases in Mines Act on 1973, the family of any person who has worked on a mine and died from ‘unnatural’ causes can send their organs for examination for compensable diseases.

The reports identified that two of the mine workers had inactive TB at the time of death, while a further seven had silicosis. So, nine of the 34 mine workers had a serious respiratory condition.

The levels of silicosis can be traced back to gold mining – all of those with the condition at autopsy had previously been employed as gold miners, where exposure to silica dust is common place. The worrying trend is that of men moving from gold to platinum mining, as gold mining work continues to decline, are silicotic or pre-silicotic, and thus at greater risk of contracting TB and silicosis.

Read the full report here.

Sustainable Efforts to Fight Acute Malnutrition in Zimbabwe

Rutharo-Madzima-PicThis World Humanitarian Day, Dexter Chagwena, a Research Nutritionist from the University of Zimbabwe, and Rufaro Charity Madzima, an independent Nutrition Consultant, reflect on acute malnutrition in Zimbabwe, how the condition is becoming increasingly prevalent during periods of stability and what needs to be done to make efforts more sustainable.

Zimbabwe is no stranger to humanitarian crises. Over the past few years the country has experienced sporadic cholera outbreaks. Parts of the country are particularly prone to droughts and floods. Earlier this year the Tokwe-Mukosi dam flooded in Chivi– a rural district in Masvingo Provincean in south-eastern Zimbabwe – displacing 4000 villagers when their homes were submerged.

Masvingo province is located in the low veld of the country where rainfall is minimal and uncertain. Most parts of the province are drought prone, therefore, are generally unfit for agriculture. Villagers, therefore, make their livelihood through cattle ranching. Last February, when the dam flooded, villagers did not just lose their homes, but their cattle and sole form of livelihood. In the weeks that followed, malnutrition rose as many families could no longer afford a single decent meal and were left severely food insecure. As a result of the sudden lack of nutritious food and increased risk of disease, many children experienced a rapid loss in weight – a condition known as acute malnutrition.

This condition can quickly result in death without treatment. Thankfully, treatment is available. Cost-effective and high-impact approaches to treatment have revolutionized the fight against acute malnutrition. Through community-based approaches it is possible to identify and treat more children than ever before. Energy-dense, micronutrient-enriched foods —known as RUTFs —can effectively treat children in a matter of weeks, without needing to be admitted to hospital.

Acute malnutrition has been prevalent in many African countries for decades – affecting 13.2 million children in Africa alone. In Zimbabwe, like many African countries, young children tend to be the most vulnerable to this condition. Zimbabwe has made tremendous strides in tackling acute malnutrition over the years – today around 3% of children under the age of five affected, down from 7% in 2005-06. This has been, in large part, due to the support provided by humanitarian assistance to decenralise the community based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) to almost every district of the country.

As a resource-limited country, Zimbabwe has achieved “tremendous successes under difficult conditions.” Recently, at the initiative of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimbabwe has migrated from community based services to a more institutional based, integrated management of acute malnutrition (IMAM). This initiative is aimed at improving the previous CMAM approach to a more unified response in the management of acute malnutrition between health institutions and communities. But there is still room to advance our efforts and reduce the rates of acute malnutrition even further. To do this Zimbabwe, and other countries, need more sustainable approaches in fighting acute malnutrition in non-emergency settings.

While acute malnutrition does occur during humanitarian crises, it in becoming increasingly common in stable settings. Humanitarian efforts are crucial and must continue to provide life-saving support when incidents like the Tokwe-Mukosi flooding occur. But much more needs to be done to advance our efforts and provide a more sustainable approach in fighting acute malnutrition in non-emergency contexts to ensure that children who are at risk during times of stability are also able to access this life-saving treatment.

The supply of life-saving RUTFs is often restricted to periods of crisis. As a result, clinics can suffer from regular stock-outs – a major barrier to accessing treatment. Repeated stock-outs can contribute to community-based SAM treatment services as being perceived as unreliable, leading to significant increases in length of stay, absenteeism and children defaulting from treatment.

Globally, a staggering 1 million children die each year from this condition, despite the fact that it is preventable and treatable. If we hope to make a dent in this number, and safeguard the futures of millions of children, then more needs to be done to bridge the gap between short-term humanitarian funding and long-term sustainable development funding.

What can you do?

Sign the Generation Nutrition petition calling on leaders all over the world to take urgent action to reduce the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition and safeguard the lives of millions of children.

Authors:

Dexter Chagwena, Research Nutritionist, University of Zimbabwe, College of Health Sciences

And Rufaro Charity Madzima, Independent Nutrition Consultant, JIMAT Development Consultants, Harare, Zimbabwe. www.jimatconsult.co.zw

Acute Malnutrition: An Everyday Emergency

To mark World Humanitarian Day, Sabrina de Souza, Nutrition Advocacy Co-ordinator at RESULTS UK, discusses why acute malnutrition is an everyday emergency.

When you see an image of an emaciated child, what’s your instant reaction? You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that this child may be caught in the middle of some humanitarian emergency, such as a drought or a famine. It is a common outcome of such crises. Millions of children — 52 million to be exact — suffer from acute malnutrition, which causes rapid and severe weight loss, leaving children emaciated. In the most severe form — severe acute malnutrition — this condition can quickly result in death without treatment.

Credit: Sanjit Das/ RESULTS UK

Credit: Sanjit Das/ RESULTS UK

Thankfully, treatment is available. Cost-effective and high-impact approaches to treatment have revolutionized the fight against acute malnutrition. Through community-based approaches we are able to identify and treat more children than ever before. Energy-dense, micronutrient-enriched foods — known as RUFTs — can effectively treat children in a matter of weeks, without needing to be admitted to hospital.

Despite revolutions in treatment, 90 percent of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are unable to access the treatment they need. In 20 years, between 1990 and 2011, the global burden of acute malnutrition fell by just 11percent, from 58 million to 52 million. In sub-Saharan Africa, the numbers of acutely malnourished children actually grew during this period from 10 million to 13 million. This is due, in part, to the way that the treatment of acute malnutrition is delivered.

An everyday emergency

While acute malnutrition can occur during humanitarian emergencies, it commonly occurs in stable settings as well — making it an everyday emergency. The treatment of severe acute malnutrition is primarily delivered via emergency responses, which are typically short in duration. Therefore, children who are at risk of acute malnutrition in stable, non-emergency settings often struggle to access this life-saving treatment.

The supply of life-saving RUTFs is often restricted to periods of crisis. As a result, clinics can suffer from regular stock-outs — a major barrier to accessing treatment. Repeated stock-outs can contribute to community-based SAM treatment services as being perceived as unreliable, leading to significant increases in length of stay, absenteeism and children defaulting from treatment.

A staggering 1 million children die each year from this condition, despite the fact that it is preventable and treatable. If we hope to make a dent in this number, and safeguard the futures of millions of children, then more needs to be done to bridge the gap between short-term humanitarian funding and long-term sustainable development funding.

The UK: leading by example

Sustainable funding is needed so governments in high-burden countries can plan and implement long-term strategies to tackle acute malnutrition. The UK, which is among the top providers of humanitarian assistance, is making encouraging steps to fund multi-year nutrition-related programmes in a number of high-burden countries, including Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Yemen, which aim to bridge the gap between humanitarian aid and longer-term funding. However, more needs to be done and there is scope to replicate these much needed programmes in other high-burden countries that DFID works in.

The Generation Nutrition campaign encourages other donors, including Sweden, Turkey, the United States and EU institutions, which sit alongside the UK as the top providers of humanitarian assistance, to follow suit in recognising acute malnutrition as a development issue, not just a results of a humanitarian crisis, that requires sustainable funding for both the treatment and prevention of life-threatening condition.

What can you do?

Sign the Generation Nutrition petition calling on leaders all over the world to take urgent action to reduce the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition and safeguard the lives of millions of children.

RESULTS welcomes Sveta to the Team

Hello everybody, my name is Sveta McGill and I have just joined RESULTS UK as Health Advocacy Officer. I originally come from Kiev, Ukraine, but have been in the UK since 2010 doing a PhD at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. My PhD thesis researched the impact of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) on HIV prevention policies and services in Ukraine which has the leading HIV rates in the European region.

svetaMy job of is now more focused on TB, and I am contributing to the Russian-language activities of the TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) - a network of activists and CSOs formed to increase the level of awareness, commitment and political will within the European Union and European Commission to fight TB. I bring to the job 15 + years of experience of working in the ex-Soviet region in public health, HIV/AIDS, TB, as well as gender policy and NGO development. I have also published a Russian-language journal “Aktualnye Infekcii” from 2007 to 2012 based in Kiev that focused on health care policy in HIV and TB, as well as programmes implemented by international donors in the region.

I am generally easy going and responsive, and try to stay positive at all times, work as a team and have an effect in everything I do. I like travel, music and musicals, walking, cooking, and spending quality time with family and friends. My favourite book is ‘Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov and my favourite composer is Tchaikovsky.

Gill Price reflects on her Footsteps for Futures challenge

This summer, Gill Price from the Stort Valley group will be doing five different local walks as part of her Footsteps for Futures challenge. To keep us updated on her challenge, Gill has created her own blog where she will be posting updates on how she is getting on. Have a read of her first post below and check out the rest of her posts over the next month directly from her blog

Education has been described as the best way to increase the health, wealth and stability of a nation and is a fundamental human right. It is a sad fact, however that more than 57 million children around the world do not go to primary school and at least 250 million children cannot read or count even if they have spent four years in school. I believe that every child should have the chance to go to a school where they are well taught. A good education is a shelter for life.

Gill's pic cropped

Thats the facts out of the way, now for the personal bit.

I live in Perry Green, the hamlet where Henry Moore spent most of his working life and where the Henry Moore Foundation he set up to carry on his work is situated. Theres a public footpath running through the grounds from which you can see many of the sculptures. Henry Moore knew the value of education. Speaking of his childhood in Castleford, Yorkshire Henry Moore said,

“My father was a miner at the time of a very long coal strike. We had a very thin time, but my father was unbelievably resilient and ambitious for his children. He had had to learn everything himself, from books and so on. He had had no help from his parents so he had a terrific struggle to do what he did. But he had tremendous hopes for his children and he believed in education and he made us go in for exams to get to the local secondary school, as it was called then; it became a grammar school later”.

One of the sculptures near the path is, ‘Large figure in a shelter’ It is the last bronze sculpture that Henry Moore made (1985 – 1986). It reminds me that a good education really is a ‘Shelter for life’ This last sculpture of Henry Moore’s is the first sculpture I am using in my ‘Footsteps for Futures’ series of walks raising money for RESULTS. I will be walking from my home to the local schools, following the routes that children might have taken in the past.

You can help me raise money for RESULTS here and help to give vulnerable children a ‘Shelter for life’ through a good education.

I decided to take part in this particular challenge for RESULTS as like Henry Moore my father too was the son of a miner who was determined to get an education for his sons so that they would not have to go down the mines. I too value the education I received and I would hope that every child could be given the gift of education.

Gill Price meets her local MP Mark Prish -MP for Hertford and Stortford.

Gill Price meets her local MP Mark Prisk -MP for Hertford and Stortford.

Being somewhat unfit, the walks will be a challenge but it’s great to know that I will be raising funds to help to change the lives of the most vulnerable children around the world.’

Please sponsor me here and help get all children the education they deserve.

Fancy doing a Footsteps for Futures challenge yourself? Find out more and sign up on the  Footsteps for Futures website.

 

 

Recording of August conference call now available

We are pleased to announce that a recording of our August conference call is now available to download. Just click on the link to access the audio.

the call launched our August monthly action which calls upon campaigners to contact MPs ahead of the crucial upcoming vote on the bill to enshrine the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid; and asks them to meet with newly elected MEPs, to get the issues which RESULTS works on in front of our European representatives before they go into the main Parliamentary session.

 

Sarah Laughton takes a look at the need for teachers in delivering universal education

Sarah Laughton of our Macclesfield group, who joined RESULTS for two days work experience, wrote this blog on the issue of teacher shortages in sub-Saharan Africa.

Due to the ongoing work of organisations such as the Global Partnership for Education, and the rising school-age population in Sub-Saharan Africa, more children than ever are enrolling in primary education. However, this progress faces a potential barrier: a lack of teaching staff. A lack of teachers means a lower quality of education or even a lower availability of education.

UNESCO data shows that around a third of sub-Saharan countries such as Nigeria and Eritrea will need to hire more teachers by 2030 in order to help ensure good quality universal education. In fact, statistics suggest that unless many of these countries start recruiting now they could face huge shortages by 2030.

One example of this issue is in Djibouti. Currently only 54% of the country’s primary school-aged children are enrolled in school. As the push for universal education continues this figure is expected to and hopefully will increase quite dramatically. However, in order to accommodate this increase in demand and achieve universal primary education Djibouti will need to recruit around 17% more teachers per year. This is a huge challenge in a country with limited resources to allow it to make large expansions to its workforce.

However, some governments in the region have begun to take big steps towards dealing with the issue and to prevent potential shortages in the future. Since 1999 Ethiopia has been increasing its teaching staff by around 11% per year meaning there is a good chance that it will escape future problems. However, in other countries such as Eritrea recruitment is struggling to combat the high number of teachers leaving  due to sickness or retirement; for every seven teachers recruited, 10 are expected to leave, meaning that the number of teaching staff is actually expected to decrease leaving the country with a serious shortage. In fact this is not an uncommon issue in the region as on top of the 2.1 million new teaching posts expected to be created in the coming years, it is also estimated that a further 2.6 million positions will need to be filled as teaching staff leave.

Nevertheless, although Sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for 46% of the global shortage of school teachers, an issue that urgently needs to be solved in order to achieve universal education, successful steps seen in countries such as Ethiopia show that it can be done and along with the support and guidance of organisations like the GPE hopefully by 2030 governments will be able to assure good quality universal education.