Dwelling Places Family
Every year, 3.5 million children die from under nutrition. Numbers, though, do not always connect with us at a visceral level. Amir Abdulla, COO of the World Food Program, was moved to tears when he placed the scale of the problem of starvation into context. "The number of children who die, because of malnutrition, each year is equivalent to a Boeing 747, filled with children, crashing ever 20 minutes - everyday, every night, throughout the year."
This devastating statistic alone should make us sit up and think more about how NUTRITION (not food, not just feeding but nutrition) plays a vital role in the sustainability of the results we produce in the lives of the street children and slum families whom we serve.
Education, Education, Education.
I have grown up to believe that the way out of the poverty trap is education, education, education. I have seen this principle applied successfully in many parts of the world. Over the years, what I have observed in this respect has come to constitute a body of anecdotal evidence that supported my contention. I was not aware of the dramatic impact of nutrition on infant development.
The Magic Bullet?
Nutrition scientists adamantly affirm that a child's mental development is determined in the first 1000 days of its life - starting at the point of conception. Therefore, a child's intellectual potential is determined by the time it reaches the age of two. These professionals protest that by that age, the deficiencies in brain development is irreversible. If they are right, where does that leave the Education, Education, Education mantra? The overwhelming body of evidence argues that:
- Education is not the single, magic bullet solution out of the poverty trap.
- The pre-education phase (the first 1000 days) must attract at least the same priority as does education, to help those we serve escape the poverty trap.
- We need to develop coherence and synergy between nutrition programs and education programs if we want sustainable success in poverty alleviation.
- The production, delivery and security of nutritious food are vital elements in the response to the Rubic Cube of African poverty.
Do Good. Do It Well
Helping the vulnerable out of poverty is a highly complex endeavor. Success is never guaranteed. Our aspirations to make a sustainable difference are dependant on a multi-disciplinary, integrated approach. Those who work in poverty alleviation are often thought to be “kind and nice and idealistic”. This is true in the majority of cases. However, this perception masks the true level of skill and professionalism demanded to meet the needs of the poorest of the poor. The most successful NGOs are gifted with nutritionists, logistics experts, agronomists, project managers, economists and a host of superbly competent professionals.
They do good. They do it well.
 Mr Amir Abdulla, COO World Food Program, speaker at the Combating Malnutrition Through Sustainable Interventions conference in Brussels on 8 November 2011. All 12 presentations are now available on You Tube. Here is the link to the talk given by Amir Abdulla. If you click on it you will see, in the right hand panel, Play List of 12. If you click on this you will have access to all 12 video presentations of the talks given by the other speakers.
STREET TALK investigates and explores the global issues that confront street children and slum families.
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