Charity report says unity key in fight against global poverty

by Julie Mollins | @jmollins | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 15 September 2011 16:14 GMT

Better coordination between donors, governments and communities will help reduce poverty and disease

LONDON (AlertNet) - Better coordination between donors, governments and communities will help reduce poverty and disease, a joint report conducted by six major aid agencies said.

A collaborative approach focused on improving access to primary healthcare, sanitation and clean water is more cost-effective for donors and will help achieve the United Nations (U.N.) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, the report said. 

It cites examples from aid projects in 17 countries to show how governments, donors and policymakers can work together to meet the goals, a framework of targets set in 2000 to try and alleviate global poverty. 

“U.N. agencies and member states need to respond to the evidence presented here and use their influence to move the international community to expand upon these successes,” David Winder, chief executive of WaterAid in America, said. 

Long-term and flexible funding - rather than finance for short-term projects - improves the likelihood of successful results, according to the report.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation worked with nongovernmental health agency PATH and the local community on a project funded by United States Agency of International Development (USAID) to help fight child deaths from diarrhoea. 

Diarrhoeal disease is the leading cause of child deaths in Kenya, according to World Health Organisation figures.

Part of the aim of the project, which began in 2008, was to teach mothers how to prevent illness, which led to an increased use of oral rehydration salts (ORS). Overall knowledge that the salts are a remedy for diarrhoea jumped from 67 percent in 2008 to 83 percent in 2011, according to PATH, while their use rose from 27 percent to 37 percent in the same period. 

We wanted to increase awareness and coverage of multiple treatment and prevention options through one programme, Evan Simpson, a programme officer at PATH, told AlertNet. 

“There is no ‘silver bullet’ for diarrhoea -- from our modest two-year investment in the programme, we see positive increases in all areas that we hoped we would.”

In Peru, an innovative national plan integrated the country’s 82 social policies and reduced them to 26, and consolidated several nutrition programmes into one. As a result, chronic malnutrition in children fell by 4.7 percent between 2007 and 2010 – from 22.6 percent to 17.9 percent - according to the report. 

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the local government, churches and community representatives set up a joint initiative to improve nutrition and access to clean water. 

Nearly 1,000 people – 90 percent of them women -- now benefit from food produced in 20 gardens, and 20,000 have gained access to safe drinking water. At least 80 percent of families now eat vegetables with every meal. 

The report “Join up, scale up: how integration can defeat disease and poverty” is co-authored by Action Against Hunger, Action for Global Health, End Water Poverty, PATH, Tearfund and WaterAid.

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