Column: GPP - Australia
For Lauren O'Connor, 27, The End of Polio's Global Communications Coordinator, campaigning for the eradication of polio has quickly become a part of who she is. "I went from thinking that polio was already eradicated to becoming super passionate about the work that's being done to reach the hardest to reach kids with the polio vaccine."
Polio is a disease that targets the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis and even death. Though polio can strike anyone, the disease mainly affects children that are 5-years-old and younger.
On May 28th, Australia announced $80 million in new funding towards polio eradication efforts, taking Australia's total commitment since 2011 to more than $130 million. The announcement came just one month after world leaders came together at the Global Vaccine Summit to pledge $4 billion to end polio.
In a parliamentary session following the announcement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard asserted Australia's role as a leader in the campaign against polio.
"We can make a difference and our nation will be proudly doing so," said the Prime Minister, recalling her own encounters with polio. "I remember as a young person, older children, admittedly, within my school who had had a personal battle with polio."
The End of Polio is a grassroots campaign coordinated by the Global Poverty Project, in support of global eradication efforts led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, and the Gates Foundation. The Global Poverty Project's Australian director, Ms. Samah Hadid, says that Australia's renewed commitment brings the world one step closer to completely eradicating polio.
"Polio is on the verge of being completely wiped out," said Ms Hadid. "It's one of the most economically viable diseases to end, and by doing so we are creating a polio-free future for every child, everywhere."
Global polio eradication efforts have managed to immunize more than 2.5 billion children, preventing more than 8 million cases of life-long paralysis or death since 1988. In 1988 there were more than 350,000 cases in 125 countries. In 2013, only 34 cases have been reported and only three countries who have never stopped polio.
Lauren attributes the stark reduction in the number of polio cases to the spirited commitment of anti-polio volunteers across the globe.
"People who are willing to walk seven hours to vaccinate kids in their community... travelling by foot, motorbikes, and donkeys to reach these kids and to make their lives better... that is simply breathtaking and fills me with optimism."
Through petitions, meetings with MPs, and an event held in March at Parliament House in Canberra, The End of Polio secured bipartisan support for polio eradication and was instrumental in convincing the Australian government to provide more than $130 million for the anti-polio campaign. In the week leading up to the announcement, the campaign's supporters sent more than 150 letters to Foreign Minister Bob Carr, asking him to use Mr Gates' visit to announce new funding.
For 22-year-old Pakistani student Yelmaz Sanjrani, the efforts of The End of Polio and recent announcements of financial support towards polio eradication gives him hope that one day Pakistan, one of just three countries that have never stopped polio (the others being Afghanistan and Nigeria), will be declared-polio free.
"I see people on the streets and in villages who suffer from polio because they did not have the chance to be vaccinated," explains Yelmaz, whose friend's sister suffers from polio. "The news is really great because it [the financial aid] gives parents the opportunity to see their children grow up without suffering... an opportunity that many older Pakistanis never had."
Nevertheless, with many children located in obscure and desperate villages, anti-polio workers are often faced with operational obstacles that challenge their ability to reach all children.
To overcome this, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says that anti-polio workers have been equipped with GPS-enabled devices, which enable them to locate all villages and ensure that no children were left unprotected from polio.
It is with the assistance pledged by global leaders and countries such as Australia, that vaccinators are able to be equipped with such technology.
However, with new cases being reported in Kenya and Somalia — countries that had previously been declared polio-free — Lauren warns that the global leaders must ensure that the funding for anti-polio campaigns is not interrupted.
"If the funding is not there, then vaccination campaigns are cancelled leaving millions of children un-vaccinated and putting the whole campaign at risk as it leaves an opportunity for a mass-outbreak."
Despite these challenges, Lauren remains optimistic that as long as world leaders continue to work together in support of polio eradication, no child will ever have to suffer the terrible disease.
"By coming together, we have a chance to make polio history," says Lauren. "By demonstrating how collective action can end a horrible disease, the path to eradicating other deadly diseases will be paved."
This Valentine's Day we plan to “share the love.” Not just with our close friends and family, but with disadvantaged communities across the world. We don’t plan on making opulent donations or holding fiery protests. We’re putting down the petitions and simply picking up a different kind of present - a Fairtrade present, to be precise.
Purchasing Fairtrade products is one very simple and effective way for people to take action against poverty. In Australia, Fairtrade is still an emerging concept with consumer recognition of the Fairtrade label at only 44% in 2011. The good news though is that retail sales of Fairtrade products have steadily been growing since 2010, with a $35m increase within a year indicating that as time passes, more people are starting to catch on to the benefits associated with Fairtrade.
To try and shed some light on this important and growing movement, the Global Poverty Project sat down with two passionate Fairtrade advocates to help explain.
Changing people’s lives, one chocolate at a time
Karen Ngoh, founder of Fairtrade chocolate brand Heart of Chocolate says she was compelled to sell ethically sourced and produced chocolate bars after discovering that in many instances, the forced labor of children played a big role in producing the commercial chocolate that so many of us unwittingly enjoy today. CNN’s documentary ‘Chocolate Child Slaves’ focuses on the chocolate production industry in the Ivory-Coast. In the investigation, children as young as seven have often been trafficked over borders to harvest cocoa, even though some have never even tasted chocolate.
Although Fairtrade is a top priority to Karen, her consumers’ needs are equally important.
“People feel that they’re somehow being asked to do farmers a favor [when purchasing Fairtrade] and that they are compromising the selection, the packaging or the ultimate quality of the product they are receiving,” says Karen.
But Karen’s chocolates have proved that companies can deliver products of an outstanding quality whilst still enhancing and contributing to the lives of the less fortunate. She's the exclusive Australian distributor of Seed and Bean chocolate, which has won five Great Taste Awards by the Guild of Fine Food, two from the Academy of Chocolate, and scored 100% in the UK's Ethical Company Organisation’s 2012 ranking.
Ensuring that farmers are self-sustainable all year round is another key part in being Fairtrade, and the Divine Chocolate range, which uses cocoa from the Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative, Ghana’s largest Cocoa farming union, enables farmers throughout the off-season with a credit union that gives them access to credit and banking services at affordable rates. The women in particular are supported through a soap making initiative that makes use of the waste material from the burnt cocoa plants that can be sold so that they are less dependant on their husbands to provide for their families.
Instant karma comes back to you, and it feels great!
The notion of helping producers to be independent also compelled Ric Webster who alongside his wife Jen Chaput, founded Instant Karma Roses, the first Fairtrade certified rose importer and distributor in Australia. By purchasing Fairtrade, farmers receive premiums that they can invest back into education, health care, transport and other crucial community sectors.
“It’s not just about helping people - its about helping people help themselves,” says Ric.
Instant Karma Roses come from Kenya and whilst Ric sees a lot of value in consumers buying local, he stresses the problem occurs when people mistakenly think they are buying domestic, when they’re actually buying imported flowers.
"It's matter of knowing where [the flowers] come from,” says Ric. “Eighty percent of flowers are raised in Australia, and 20% are from overseas. But we want to give people the option to buy flowers where they always know the source is ethical."
He describes Australians as being ‘worldly’ people who he genuinely believes would make ethical purchasing decisions given the correct information. He urges other Fairtrade retailers to embrace the same optimism about their consumers.
“You have to trust that customers do want to make a difference,” says Ric.
Making a difference
Getting people to understand the impact their purchasing decisions make is an ongoing challenge in promoting Fairtrade. People seem to think that the concept of Fairtrade stops at workers receiving a fair wage, but there’s more to it than that. Workers receive a Fairtrade premium to invest in social, economic and environmental community development projects that promote sustainability in their communities; and farmers have the security of long-term contracts and use environmentally sustainable farming methods. Under the Fairtrade banner, forced and abusive child labour is prohibited and women receive equal pay to men.
“We can’t keep maintaining the status quo to keep going where workers and producers aren’t getting a fair share of what they produce,” says Daniel Mackey, Business Development Manager of Fair Trade Australia and New Zealand.
He hopes that through the partnership with the Global Poverty Project, people will become more aware of the issues surrounding Fairtrade and therefore, consider the whole picture before picking up a product.
“Sharing the love is what Fairtrade is all about. When you buy a Fairtrade product you move beyond just buying a product for yourself - you’re buying a product you know has an impact on other people,” says Daniel. “It moves people away from individual consumption to conscious consumption.”
He hopes that once people start to realise the merit in Fairtrade, ethically produced products will be the norm that will eventually push unethical products off the shelves. Dan ideally hopes that producers get to a level in which they can “develop the kind of voices that can negotiate on the world stage with industries and governments” so that over time they can be fully self-sufficient.
Help us Share the Love!
As the name of our latest campaign suggests, we’re asking people to share the love with the people behind the products we give as gifts. Whether it's roses or chocolates, by choosing to buy Fairtrade gifts for every occasion you can ensure the presents you give to the ones you love give back to those most in need. To find out more about how you can support Fairtrade and take other actions to help end extreme poverty within our generation, go to www.sharethelovefairtrade.com. You can also share and show your support for Faitrade this Valentine’s day by “liking” http://www.facebook.com/imbuyingFairtradethisValentinesDay
If you asked anyone where the current business hot spot of the world is, the most common response would be North Asia. However, a new project led by AusAID is demonstrating that there are equally beneficial business and investment opportunities closer to home in South East Asia and the Pacific.
As well as providing ongoing aid towards education, improving maternal health and strengthening disaster response, Australia’s aid program is also helping companies kick-start their businesses in the Asia – Pacific region.
Seeing a need to demonstrate to investors the possibilities of investing in the Asia-Pacific region and wanting to lay the foundations for a successful business environment in the region, AusAID launched the ‘Enterprise Challenge Fund’ (ECF) in 2007, to provide grants to companies wishing to start or expand their enterprise.
Created with a focus on employment and commercial markets, the ECF aims to stimulate growth and ensure that those living in poorer regions have the opportunity to be included in the benefits provided by economic growth.
From 2007 up until 2013, Australia will provide $20.5 million in grants to pilot the ECF in South East Asia and the Pacific, working with businesses to jointly fund initiatives and create self-sustaining projects.
As it stands, the program has approved 22 projects across eight countries in the region. These projects are designed to ensure local communities have more access to jobs, higher incomes and increased access to vital goods and services.
The initiative is designed to help address perceived risks to contributing to projects in poorer regions, with an intention of helping entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region overcome these constraints, and to demonstrate the viability of business in the region.
An ECF project already under way is that of Carnival, an Australian owned cruising company operating cruises in the Pacific. Previously, when providing services to Vanuatu, Carnival cruise ships were only able to dock in Port Villa, as other ports were considered inadequate for passenger safety and comfort. Through an ECF project, local community members on the islands of Champagne Bay have been able to work to improve the safety, comfort and quality of tourism destinations previously unable to be visited by Carnival, creating increased calls in port, and increasing returns for the local community.
The improvement of the sites, led by locals, have provided an increased opportunity for revenue for those living in the area. Training in hospitality and financial management, as well as opportunities for the creation of small businesses around the tourist sites have also been made available. As a result, living standards and income has been increased in communities around the Champagne Bay.
The project has also led to:
- The installation of a mobile telecommunications tower on Mystery Island, the first reliable communication service in this very remote area,
- The installation of tourism facilities in the Champagne Bay, as well as wharf upgrades, improved navigation aids and the commencement of short excursions of the area, and
- Increased sales of locally made products to visitors to Vanuatu.
The funds from the ECF have also been used to install clean and environmentally friendly toilet facilities at three sites in Vanuatu, train locals in hospitality and establish tour routes and informative signage.
It is believed that the project will also have benefits beyond Carnival’s own initiatives, with additional cruise ship operators already expressing interest in use of the improved tourist sites in the Champagne Bay, and discussion that the project will be a useful case study for the ‘regional cruise-ship strategy’ of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.
Posted by Claire Poyser
for column GPP - Australia
on Oct 29th 2012, 02:37
This week Prime Minister Gillard spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on the topic of 'Practical Progress towards realising those ideals in the world'.
She had this to say about the Millennium Development Goals, and Australia's commitment to contributing to the global community:
The UN articulates humanity’s highest ideals; but more, the UN makes practical progress towards realising those ideals in the world.
There is no better example of this than the Millennium Development Goals.
Specific, measurable targets of the highest human importance – goals now familiar to us all.
Twelve years on from 2000, three years out from 2015, the progress we have made must be just as familiar.
The global economy has grown – hundreds of millions of people have lifted themselves up.
And that first, fundamental Goal – to halve the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty – is now achieved.
One billion human lives transformed.
A decade ago 100 million children did not get to go to school.
This number has been reduced by fully one third.
33 million human futures entirely remade.
But we must all acknowledge that there are vital areas where the international community is failing to achieve change.
This is why I accepted the Secretary-General’s invitation to co-chair the Millennium Development Goal Advocacy Group alongside Rwanda: to advocate for practical progress in the coming three years.
Where the world has fallen short of ambitious goals, our response must be action, not disillusion.
This is what Australia will do. We will act.
We will help improve education.
Australia’s development spending on education has doubled in the past five years – we will be among the world’s largest education donors by 2015.
I am especially pleased to join as an “education champion” in support of the Secretary-General’s Education First initiative to mobilise global support to help achieve education for all children by 2015.
I am honoured to lend it Australia’s support.
We will help increase gender equality.
I was proud to announce at the Pacific Islands Forum last month that Australia will work alongside our partners in the Pacific on an unprecedented gender initiative:
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development.
Australia will provide $320 million over 10 years: to support women’s political participation, to expand women’s leadership, to spread economic and social opportunities in the Pacific.
This is a principle underpinning every Australian aid intervention and initiative: empowering women and girls.
We will help fight drug resistant malaria.
The Secretary-General has made malaria one of his key priorities for his second term. It is a priority we share.
Since 2000, the world has cut the number of deaths from malaria by 26 per cent.
Without these advances, 330 000 more people would have died of malaria last year – the great majority in Africa.
But malaria itself is fighting back – now, drug resistance in malaria must be overcome.
Later this year, Australia will hold Malaria 2012, bringing together political leaders, civil society and the private sector to accelerate efforts to control and eliminate malaria and combat growing drug resistance.
While we are working hard to realize the MDGs in the next three years, Australia is looking further ahead.
2015 is a goal but it is not a destination – rather it must be a new point of departure for much new work.
Australia pledges to contribute to the important work of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Australia brings considerable national experience in working with conflict-affected states and least developed countries – especially in our own region.
And we will seek to apply what we have learned in our work since 2000 to the world’s plans for beyond 2015.
First, that peace is an essential foundation to development – and building peace is vital to the progress of societies recovering from conflict.
Peacekeepers today must be peacebuilders – not just stopping conflict but enabling development.
Second, that there can be no poverty alleviation without the creation of wealth and jobs.
Growth alone is never sufficient – but to achieve development in the interests of all people we must create jobs and wealth.
Third, that we cannot make poverty history until we also consign to history the argument that environmental protection and human development are conflicting global goals.
Climate change threatens the secure food supply which guarantees development – new clean sources of energy deliver a new source of economic growth.
Image of The General Assembly, United Nations by Rob Young
Yesterday in New York, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard helped launch the UN's 'Education First' Initiative.
She had this to say:
It’s a great honour to be champion of Secretary-General Ban’s Education First Initiative.
This is a very significant tribute to Australia’s work to improve education in developing countries through our aid program.
There’s a reason universal education is second only to ending hunger in the Millennium Development Goals.
In my discussions with the Secretary-General, I’ve told him that for my country, improving education is a great national priority – one we want to share with our neighbours and partners in the world.
And for me personally, education is the great passion that brought me into public life, and I want to share the story with you today.
Recently my beloved father passed away.
He was a bright boy who grew up in a family of seven in a Welsh coalmining village.
His family knew great hardship and even though my father won a scholarship, he had to go to work at 14 to help put bread on the table.
He died at 83 but his lifelong dream of a higher education was never fulfilled.
My sense of injustice has never dimmed, and I am deeply saddened that John Gillard's story is a story lived out in homes and villages all across the world today – especially in the global south.
Bright kids who don't have a chance parents who send their children off to work knowing it's not the best thing for the future.
As members of the international community, we can help end that.
Education is vital to prosperity for nations and to opportunity for individuals it is the ultimate means of a civilised life for every person.
I am delighted to join my fellow Education Champions who are determined to put education first.
The Prime Minister has been co-chairing the annual meeting of the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, and has announced that her personal priorities for advocacy will be promoting access to quality education, and achieving gender equality.
Image of Prime Minister Gillard by MystifyMe Concert Photograph