An important pre-note to this post: the example I will share with you here is just the latest of many projects from the Rotary Pakistan PolioPlus Committee which has been gathering momentum over the last few years, working closely with the Government of Pakistan and its partners (WHO & UNICEF) to end polio in the country.
Let me describe the scene for you: dense ramshackle shelters, no sanitation infrastructure, no access to clean water, a scarcity of food (or only available to those who can afford it), and a distinct lack of schools, clinics, medicine, doctors and, seemingly, paid employment. It’s not that everyone is sitting around doing nothing – quite the reverse in fact. Everyone is productive, but the way their dirty kamis (common long shirt to the knees) hang off their wiry bodies, you know they are not being paid much, or anything, for their labour. This is the reality of Site Town, Karachi, where I spent a few hours. This is one of the most disadvantaged areas of Karachi which heaves with 22 million people, and who knows what proportion of those live with adequate access and opportunities.
I was driven from another part of Karachi, the Defence area, where the houses make Australian houses look small. But there is a man and a community organisation that is doing their best to share their wealth, experience and expertise with others in their huge city.
In the middle of Site Town I visited the Site Town Rotary Polio Resource Centre. This is a shining beacon for that community and others in the area. It is primarily a school, and the only one in the area, but built into the practises of this school are toilets, clean water, a food program and, most impressively, a vaccine housing and distribution centre.
The man I referred to earlier is Aziz Memon and the organisation, Rotary. Aziz seems to be a very busy and successful business man, but he has brought together the right people and right resources to make the Resource Centre a reality. Those around Aziz are just as impressive in their commitment and expertise.
Over the years I have been able to see a lot of aid and development projects and let me just list some of the great features of this particular model:
It is from the community for the community - this is not a white man telling the local people what to do - it has come from the people of Karachi in consultation with education professionals, community leaders and local government, with the support of those they service.
Much more than a single purpose - it was set up as a polio vaccine distribution centre to service some of the hardest-to-reach children in an area where the population moves a lot and the refusal rate for vaccination is high. However their mandate isn’t to force the community to take vaccines, but rather to show they are there to support in all ways. People can choose to come to them for vaccines, or accept vaccines when they do a house visit, knowing that they are also providing education, clean water, food, etc to their child.
Very impressive outreach - while the school has limited capacity, their outreach is impressive. Clean water and toilets is accessible to all, the food program does as best it can to provide food to as many as possible. They also have 25 other hubs in four districts that provide polio vaccines on a regular and ongoing basis to 100,000 children in addition to the 4-5 annual national immunisation days.
A sustainable funding model - thanks to some local Rotary Clubs, Government and other reliable sources of income, the centre has the funds to not only build this centre but continue its service.
The model is scalable - thanks to all the features I mentioned above, this is a model that could be adopted by other disadvantage communities throughout Karachi and around the country. The most polio-affected areas in Pakistan are obviously the poorest or most remote, but a community resource centre is something that could be integrated anywhere.
The purpose is polio but really it is poverty - eradicating polio is a global mandate we must achieve. Now that numbers are reduced to record lows we are able to incorporate broader services in health, education, sanitation, food security etc. Not that these things weren’t happening before, but now that almost every last child has been exposed to polio vaccine, the foundation is set for the leap forward addressing the bigger topics and issues of health and extreme poverty.
I am brimming with excitement once again writing down these points as I was when I visited in person a week ago.
As a part of my visit I was able to hand over a few posters of support from people outside of Karachi and Pakistan. The core team at the resource centre who saw this were amazed that famous cricketers, actresses, the people of Canada (with the ‘Purple Pinkie’ photos) and others who have attended concerts, sign petitions, written stories or cared in some way for the people working on the ground in Pakistan. The poster now proudly sits on their wall and will be showed to the children that we are all global citizens and can support each other and the things that work for them from their needs.
A massive thank you to Waheed and the team at the Resource Centre for having me visit; Mr Aziz Memon and his team for his vision, drive and support to establish the centre and facilitate my visit; and Rotary - the incredible group who took on the beast of polio but do so much more than that and this includes the Rotary Clubs of Canada, Pakistan and all over the world committed to making a polio-free world.
The biggest appreciation I have are for those who are there day to day living, working and surviving in these areas with such resilience and resourcefulness without expectations but instead with unbelievable humility and gratitude for any little access or opportunity they are afforded.
I usually don’t plug donations, as I prefer people to donate their time to campaigns, writing to government and other advocacy. But seeing the effectiveness of this program and knowing that all donations to the Rotary PolioPlus Fund are so effective, I have to promote this:
And for all those Canadians out there, hear this! If you give to the Rotary PolioPlus Fund in Canada your donation will be tripled, being matched by Canadian International Development Agency from the Canadian Government and then again by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In other words, your $50 will become $150 and, for a project like the Resource Centre, that is a lot of food for their program, filters to clean their water, vaccines to end polio and so much more – follow the link above and choose Canada for your donation.
-- d'Arcy is a member of The End of Polio team at the Global Poverty Project, find him on Twitter:@darcylunn. This post originally appeared in his personal blog.
Ending extreme poverty in our generation is at the core of the Global Poverty Project.
It's the belief on which the organisation was founded 4.5 years ago, and is quite literally, our vision statement.
It's the basis of our ground-breaking live presentation, 1.4 Billion Reasons, which tells the story of how we can see an end to extreme poverty within our generation – and the role that each of us as global citizens can play to make this world a reality.
Ending extreme poverty within a generation is the title of our most read blog post – which we reposted just last week.
And, it’s the theme of a tongue in cheek video we made a few years ago, heralding the end of extreme poverty, and your role in it – check it out here.
At the Global Poverty Project, we’re committed to doing all that we can to catalyse global citizens taking action to create this world.
As Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children noted in the report today, "An historic achievement is within reach. By committing to these ambitious but achievable new targets, we really can become the generation that ends extreme poverty forever. For the first time, it is feasible to imagine that in the next two decades no child will die from preventable causes, no child will go to bed hungry and every child will go to school."
In Pakistan there has been some tragic deaths by militants against health workers serving life saving polio vaccines. Nadeem blogs on these killings and why we need to speak out to help end polio once and for all.
Polio is a very infectious disease which attacks the nervous system, causing paralysis and in the most severe cases, death. Its effects are irreversible and those affected, who are often the most marginalised in communities, are left permanently disabled.
I remember my granddad, who was a pharmacist in Kenya after the war, told me stories of polio plaguing the world in the 1930 to the 1950s. It caused widespread fear and mass panic to the point that schools were closed down and people locked themselves away in their homes. There was even a surge in manufacturing for crutches as people lost their ability to walk.
Skip to the present day and happily we are a stone’s throw away from eradicating this terrible disease for good. Polio now only exists in 4 countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan, Chad and Pakistan and there is a big push going on to supply vaccinations to eliminate it from those countries too.
That was until news broke last month that in Pakistan health workers have been attacked and killed by militants purely because they were administering these vaccinations. One of the first headlines of 2013 was another story of seven charity workers shot dead. This devastating news was followed by the announcement that the UN and WHO have now had to suspend polio campaigns across Pakistan abandoning a new generation to this disease.
As a Pakistani Muslim living in the UK, I have been sickened by this story and even more so that it has been justified in the name of my religion. There is no room in Islam, the faith that teaches us to love our neighbours, care for sick and to tend to the poor, for these barbaric and ignorant acts. The Qur’an teaches us that “if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” I would like to see the Muslim community in the UK, and particularly the Pakistani diaspora, taking a leading role in raising awareness about how vaccinations are a safe, cost effective way to end polio.
There have been some amazing successes so far because of vaccinations - we have completely eradicated small pox and diphtheria, and measles are rare and unheard of in today’s world. We are so close now and we cannot afford to let the momentum slow down. Just imagine that historic day when the world will unite in celebration because polio no longer exists! Let’s join together and make it happen.
This blog was originally published by Nadeem Javaid for MADE in Europe.
“The Programme has never been in a stronger position, but how history looks back on 2012 will depend on what happens next. The remaining polio virus now sits on just 0.2% of the Earth’s land mass. Are we seeing its last stand?”
This is the question asked by the Independent Monitoring Board in its latest report, released recently. This group of public health experts, led by Sir Liam Donaldson, the UK’s former Chief Medical Officer, meets quarterly to review progress towards global polio eradication.
So what does their latest report say?
First of all, the IMB congratulates the program on the amazing progress that has been achieved over the past year. Not only has 2012 seen record-breaking low case numbers, but polio has been beaten back to the smallest geographic area in history. As the IMB states, “by this time in 2011, there had been almost three times as many children paralysed, in four times as many countries”.
We really are closer than ever to wiping out polio.
But the IMB also has a warning for the program – don’t celebrate too soon because the virus could still resurge:
“Cries of ‘nearly there’ have been heard before... History cruelly shows that hard-won progress is easily lost. In 2001, the number of polio cases reached an all-time low. In the years that followed, progress went awry and the virus spread once more."
And spread it did. Check out this infographic from the report, showing how polio spread from northern Nigeria to 18 countries between 2002 and 2005, causing more than 1200 cases of polio:
How can we prevent similar outbreaks from happening again? The IMB has a number of suggestions for the agencies running global polio eradication operations, including ensuring strong leadership, high parental demand and robust microplanning – feedback that is being taken seriously by those working on the technical side of things.
While we’ll leave the operational aspects in the capable hands of the likes of WHO and CDC, there is something we can help with – and that’s ensuring global polio eradication efforts are fully funded.
We’ve been incredibly lucky that there haven’t been any outbreaks in 2012, as the funding shortfall has caused the cancellation of vaccination campaigns in many of the same countries that suffered polio outbreaks over the past decade. But unless we can come up with the funding to ensure that no more vaccination campaigns will be cancelled, eventually our luck will run out.
The partner agencies of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are currently putting the finishing touches on a strategy to end polio in the next two years and to make sure that it can’t come back. We need to help them come up with the money to fund their activities until polio is finally gone. So get set for a whole new wave of campaigning in 2013!
·In Afghanistan, trials of Permanent Polio Teams have proven the strategy to be hugely successful. This strategy, which involves vaccination teams made up of local people, travelling from house to house, vaccinating children in their community on an ongoing basis (ie. not just during country-wide vaccination campaigns), has resulted in polio vaccine being provided to 146,000 children, including almost 9000 who had never before received a dose of the vaccine.
·Helicopters are being used to reach children in the Lake Chad area who are normally entirely cut off from other health services.
·In Nigeria, 1500 nomadic settlements have been identified for the first time.
·Direct disbursement mechanisms in Pakistan are ensuring that vaccinators receive the money they are due, on time - an incredibly important step in ensuring these frontline workers are motivated to go the extra distance to vaccinate every child.
At the beginning of a new year, we take time to remember why we are taking action to end extreme poverty.
1.4 billion people in our world currently live in extreme poverty.
These 1,400,000,000 individuals live on less than what you can buy in the US for $1.25 per day. You might think this buys more in a poor country than it does here, but actually, it’s a figure that’s been adjusted for purchasing power, which means that anywhere in the world, the $1.25 a day measure buys little more than enough basic food, clean water and cooking fuel to make two simple meals.
In the last 30 years, the proportion of the world’s population that live below this line has halved – from 52% in 1980, to 25% today. That’s a decline from 1.9 billion people down to 1.4 billion people.
At the Global Poverty Project we’re passionate about communicating these amazing achievements, and highlighting the opportunity we have to bring this number down to zero - within a generation.
This post summarizes how we can each play a part in realizing this opportunity – moving a world without extreme poverty from its current status of ‘improbable possibility’, to ‘likely reality’. This list is designed to introduce you to the key themes and issues related to ending extreme poverty.
How we think about extreme poverty
We know ending extreme poverty is a big and complex challenge. It has many causes, and there’s certainly no silver bullet or single solution, but we don't think that this complexity means the challenge cannot be overcome. There are a huge number of smart and talented people all over the world in charities, business, academia, evaluation organisations, government and think-tanks who are building an evidence base of things that work, things that don’t and why.
The big three issues
To see an end to extreme poverty, there are three big issues that we need to see action on – governance, aid and trade. We know that we have the resources (economic, social, political and environmental) to see an end to extreme poverty. But, right now, the world works in a way that keeps some people poor, which is what we all need to focus on to see an end to extreme poverty.
Improving governance structures can ensure that decision-making works in favour of the world’s poorest people. At present, most discussions about governance are framed in terms of corruption. Rather than treating the problem of corruption as an excuse to stop investing in development efforts, we need to get behind those working in communities to counter corruption: by holding local leaders to account, increasing transparency, and ensuring that laws are applied. Corruption is not only a problem that needs to be tackled in poor countries. In rich countries we need to hold governments and businesses to account for any complicity in the process of corruption, or for unethically undermining poverty reduction through actions like avoiding tax or utilising vulture funds to recover illegitimate debts. We’ve psoted more about corruption here, including an interview with leading experts here, or you can see the work being done by corruption-fighting organisations like Global Witness and Transparency International.
Next, we need to make sure that aid that’s given – whether through donations to charities or taxes to government – is spent on programs that really work. Foreign aid won’t end poverty - but it’s a vital ingredient that can be used to make investments in things like health, education and infrastructure – resources needed for countries and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent dependence on aid in the future. We’ve written more about good aid here, here and here.
Ultimately, extreme poverty ends when local communities can trade their way to a better future. The amazing poverty alleviation that we’ve seen in the past generation has been led by countries who have joined global markets: in China 400 million citizens have been lifted out of poverty since 1980, South Korea has moved from aid recipient to aid donor by building industry and creating world-renowned brands, and Botswana has grown faster than any other country in Africa by wisely investing proceeds from its diamond mines. Currently, the potential of trade is limited by the rules which work against poor countries, and will need to be reformed before we will see an end to extreme poverty.
The Elephants in the Room
Beyond these three issues, climate change and resource limitations are the elephants in the room, threatening the potential end to extreme poverty. The impact of these issues can be seen in the Pakistan floods, and in the record food prices which will mean that 1 billion people go to bed hungry tonight. On both of these issues our challenge is distribution, not scarcity. We aren’t running out of food - there’s more than enough food on our planet to feed everyone. The problem is that the world’s poorest people can’t afford to buy enough of it. In order to realize the potential of developing populations, rich countries have to increase their efficiency in resource use, and support clean development.
All of the opportunities and challenges of fighting extreme poverty outlined above are technically possible and eminently affordable. Our role is to make them politically viable and increasingly probable.
Beyond that, we can help others realise that it is possible to end extreme poverty, that we are already making significant progress, and that practical steps can be taken to overcome the challenges that remain.
From there, it’s about using your voice as a citizen to join the campaigns and initiatives of organisations fighting hard in your local community to change the rules and systems that keep people poor: ensuring that corruption is reduced, that aid is given in appropriate quantities in the right way to the right things, and changing trade rules to give the world’s poorest a fair chance to lift themselves out of poverty.
Most importantly, it’s about recognizing that the movement to end extreme poverty is led by people in poverty themselves. As we reflect on the changes of the last generation, we can look forward a generation and see a real prospect of extreme poverty not existing. Our role is to get behind the world’s poor, give voice to their aspirations, and work as citizens and consumers to make the end of extreme poverty the legacy that our generation leaves on this world.
Want to help realise a generation's potential? Register as a Global Citizen and take action to help end extreme poverty.
This blog was originally published on the GPP website in September 2010.