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The Action Thread Part Two

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REFUGEES

What we don’t know about refugees and humanitarian aid

26 June 2017 3:31PM UTC | By: GALEN ENGLUND

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According to the UNHCR, at least 65 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes and become refugees or internally displaced.

But like many of the numbers about migration and displacement, that headline stat comes with some caveats. For starters, 65 million is probably a serious understatement of how many refugees and internally displaced persons live around the world.

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A group of refugees perform a traditional dance in the Dadaab camp in Kenya. (Photo credit: ONE)

Here at ONE, we rely on data to make the case for getting more resources to those in need. To do our best work, we have to understand just how many people have fled from violence and disasters, what they most need, and what money is being sent to help. Backing up advocacy with strong data that proves the impact of assistance on human security is a necessity—especially these days.

Sadly, the state of humanitarian data today is lacklustre at best. Critical sets of data to answer basic questions are in bad shape. Numbers of how many people are displaced can be found at a macro (country) level, but are often inaccessible at a micro (province or smaller) level. Even those estimates likely miss entire displaced groups: Think of women who flee domestic abuse to live with their families, the thousands in Central America forced away by drug violence, and longstanding internally displaced groups that governments don’t want to acknowledge.

Different organisations collect information in different ways, and often don’t share it with each other. A lack of transparency and detailed reporting by donor agencies makes tracing the “last mile” of funding at the local level nearly impossible. Last year, donors and humanitarian agencies pledged at the World Humanitarian Summit to improve transparency. But there’s a long way to go.

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A screenshot of our new tool, MOVEMENT.

That’s why we created a new platform – MOVEMENT – which helps bring together available data in one place, while at the same time shining a light on the major gaps and discrepancies in refugee data. For example, when we tried to get data to display in MOVEMENT on what assistance that refugees and displaced people most need, we had to manually take numbers from 67 different reports across 30 humanitarian appeals and make a whole new database. From those, we found 356 differently worded metrics to describe people’s needs—sometimes a number would be for shelters, another time for building camps, and another time for building camps and providing other material support. We then had to distill as many of those as possible into similar sets, so we could show a comparable picture of needs between countries. That’s an awful lot of work for something that could be automated.

Happily, there are a lot of smart people working to address these crucial gaps. UN OCHA and others are improving their data systems — and we’re cheering them on.

A few steps need to happen sooner rather than later:

  • Data on displaced people needs to be collected in a more standardized format across organisations and countries, so it can be comparable.
  • There need to be investments in data collection and reporting systems so that data can be published in as real time as possible.
  • There need to be platforms for displaced people to directly express what they need and whether those needs are being met.
  • Donors should report in detail where aid money goes, all the way to the final destination, and do so through open data standards like UN OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service  and, when sensible, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).
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Kakuma Refugee Camp. (Photo credit: Katie G. Nelson)

In the long term, quality humanitarian and displacement data can actually save lives. Amazing things can be built with better data: early warning systems that predict refugee flight paths from conflicts or disasters; mobile apps for improving assistance programs that allow refugees and displaced persons to review how aid actually meets their needs; and tracking systems with block chain ledger tech that can cut down on corruption and make sure money gets to those who need it most.

Today, people are dying because of what the humanitarian aid sector doesn’t know. We must support and build on data improvements that are already underway, and push for innovation in new initiatives.

Want to learn more? Read our data brief, MOVEMENT: Minding the data gaps around displacement, funding, and humanitarian needs.

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99
HIV/AIDS

11 facts you need to know about the fight against HIV/AIDS

8 August 2017 4:17PM UTC | By: SPENCER CRAWFORD

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Depending on how you look at it, the new data on the HIV/AIDS epidemic can tell two very different stories.  On the one hand, the world has made huge progress against HIV/AIDS – for example, last year alone, more people were put on AIDS treatment than ever before.  On the other hand, there are still way too many people becoming infected with the disease and donor funding continued to fall.

Here are some things you should know — facts that tell the good news story and facts that shed light on the challenges we face. After checking out this information, see the new infographic below (or see the PDF here) for a full view of the story these numbers tell.

Treatment

  • For the first time ever, more than half of the people who need treatment for AIDS are getting it – that’s 19.5 million people accessing the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives.
  • 17 million people living with HIV are still not accessing the treatment they need.

New infections

  • Fewer people were infected with HIV last year than any other year since the UN started counting back in 1990.
  • Three people are infected with HIV every minute – that’s 1.8 million people globally last year alone. And young women account for two out of three new infections among young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Funding

  • The countries most affected by HIV are spending more fighting it than ever before,
  • Financing from donor governments is down for the second year in a row and total financing is far short – $7 billion short – of where it needs to be by 2020 to end AIDS for good.

What the future holds…

  • Promising new prevention tools are in the pipeline – like an injectable drug for long-lasting HIV prevention and an HIV vaccine. While it will take time for these tools to be fully developed, tested, and deployed, their potential to dramatically speed up the response to HIV/AIDS is huge.
  • Any slowdown in the AIDS response now risks a resurgence of the disease as Africa’s population grows. The number of young people in sub-Saharan Africa is growing faster than any other region in the world, and this population is particularly susceptible to HIV.

So how does this story end?

The outcome rests squarely on the shoulders of today’s leaders. To accelerate our impact and ensure that every person can get the care and treatment they need, they must take action to close the resource gap, support innovation and strengthen health systems. Anything less could surrender the hard-earned gains of the past decade.

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If you want to join the fight against HIV/AIDS then check out how you can get involved with our friends at (RED).

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6033
TECHNOLOGY

How WeFarm is helping farmers in Kenya & Uganda share vital information over SMS

July 20 2016 | By: SAMANTHA URBAN

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When you plant a summer garden, you likely source tips from your local garden center, friends with green thumbs, and of course, Google. But what if farming was your livelihood—making it imperative to have the information needed to succeed—and you didn’t have internet access?

That’s the situation a huge swath of the world’s smallholder farmers find themselves in—and it’s why WeFarm has stepped in to help. WeFarm is a peer-to-peer service that helps these farmers share information with each other via SMS. So they don’t need the internet—they don’t even need to leave their farm! The service is completely free and it allows farmers to ask questions and receive crowd-sourced answers from other farmers around the world!

We interviewed WeFarm CEO and co-founder Kenny Ewan on the origins of WeFarm and where it’s headed next:

Photo credit: WeFarm

Photo credit: WeFarm

So how did the idea for WeFarm come about?

The seeds for me were the many years I spent working in international development abroad. I spent seven years in Latin America based out of Peru, where I worked for an international NGO. While I was there I directed projects across Latin America and designed projects with indigenous communities. A lot of the communities were forming agricultural-based communities and I saw people creating innovative grassroots solutions for common challenges—but you go a couple of miles down the road and people have the same challenges but hadn’t heard of the same ideas or solutions. I started to think of ways of harnessing that.

Then, six years ago, I moved back to the UK and took a job with a new NGO based in London but working across 13 African and Latin America countries. I put my ideas together with a co-founder of the NGO, Claire, and together we designed the first version of WeFarm. I guess originally we saw it as an online platform but then very quickly we built in the idea of having people use it without any access to the internet. That was a key component of granting access to the populations that we wanted to.

WeFarm Mobile Devices

Photo credit: WeFarm

You’ve described WeFarm before as the internet for people with no internet. As the idea of universal internet access gains traction will the ideas of WeFarm change as more people gain access to the internet?

Obviously—we’re firstly looking at this in a very crowd-sourced, peer-to-peer, bottom-up way.  I think the idea of access to information as a key driver in lifting people out of poverty has been around for a long time, but unfortunately, everyone comes at that from a top-down perspective—this kind of “people just need to be told what to do” idea.  There are existing SMS platforms out there, so there are other services that have that starting point.  What we wanted to do was tap into people’s existing knowledge: These populations have generations worth of experience to share and we can do something that isn’t as paternalistic as some development and international projects.  

I think those core concepts translate whether it is on the internet or not. WeFarm is completely online, although 96 percent of our users only use it through SMS and offline. We’re already ready for people transitioning to the internet – our long-term plan is when people get their first smartphone and can access internet, we graduate them to a place they already trust. WeFarm will be a place with content that’s already been developed from their point of view.

Uganda Lady

Photo credit: WeFarm

You mentioned the crowd-sourced data and generations of knowledge. Could you expand more on that? Was that an idea in WeFarm’s foundation from the very start?

That was certainly one of the core fundamentals that really cut right from the start with WeFarm. The idea was to take the knowledge and ideas and innovations that people were generating on the farm or in life and give them a platform to share with people next door in their village.

To give you a quick example, I remember in rural Kenya I asked a group of farmers who were selling at a bank center to share things they thought of on a farm that might be innovative or different. This guy brought over a chicken feeder that he designed that he had made out of old buckets—containers he had on the farm. Basically, he said he had a problem at feeding time, where the bigger chicks were trampling the smaller chicks and there was a high mortality rate. So he designed this whole feeder to separate out the feed and he reduced his mortality rate by around 50 percent, which is awesome! I thought thousands of people could be having that problem, but his idea might not travel beyond potentially a couple of neighbors. The whole concept of WeFarm was to take knowledge like this from the ground and be able to share it worldwide.

Photo credit: WeFarm

Photo credit: WeFarm

Earlier this year, ONE campaigned on the idea that investments in nutrition programs can strengthen economies. What is WeFarm’s role in that?

We see our role in that area as strengthening supply chains from the bottom up in two key ways: One is providing information and knowledge to farmers to improve their farms; to battle disease and plant new crops; and be more effective on the farm. Ultimately, that benefits the entire supply chain right up to the multinationals buying these products.

The second thing WeFarm does is to analyze and aggregate the millions of interactions that are happening in the system to be able to provide potentially game-changing information on this whole piece. Obviously, there is a huge part of the world’s population that isn’t using the internet and we don’t have any of that live analytics or data. WeFarm is looking at all the interactions to track disease as it spreads across countries, to be able to isolate drought, or track any kind of trends. That can ultimately help the businesses of these farmers—and the NGO’s and governments that are working with them—to have a much better understanding of what is actually happening, what people’s challenges are, and ultimately to help the world’s supply chain be more robust.

Photo credit: WeFarm

Photo credit: WeFarm

What countries are you in now and where will WeFarm go next?

Currently, we are live in Kenya, which was our first country. More recently, we launched in Uganda and Peru. I think India is our next big target market for fairly obvious reasons: There are 110 million small farmers in India and many with very low internet access. We are also looking at Tanzania and a couple of other countries, but we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin too quickly.

What’s in the future for WeFarm?

We are hoping to be able to close our seed investment round very soon. That investment piece is key for us. We’ve had a very successful first year with more than 70,000 farmers using it now and our retention and usage metrics are through the roof, but we want to take this all to the next level. We want to have a million farmers using it in the next 12 months. We want to potentially launch in a couple of new countries, and really make it a successful venture on a kind of global scale. It’s really helping to improve farmers lives.

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**Reminder** for applications to join a Singfest 2018 Festival Choir!

Singfest Festival Choir 2018 Application Deadline

Applications must be received no later than 29th September 2017 - all details and online application form available here:https://www.musicgenerationoffalywestmeath.ie/singfest

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas y texto

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For the past 2 weeks, our Instagram has given a behind-the-scenes look at our 'Homes of Hope' and Community Care/Hospice and Palliative Care Programmes.

Follow the link to check out some updates of how children in our care, such as Alla, have benefited from the intervention of CCI.

Our nurse Alla is a lifeline to Community Care clients like 17 year old Nastya and her mother Sveta.

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SEPT. 8, 2017

Meet Jenna, the New Muslim Doll That Wears a Hijab and Teaches Kids Verses From the Quran

The doll has been called “a perfect gift for little Muslimahs to look up to.”

Gabriella Canal

By Gabriella Canal

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

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muslim dollImage: Jenna Toys/Twitter

Mothers all around the world are loving the latest Barbie doll lookalike to hit the market in the Arab Gulf countries. Jenna, who wears little makeup, a full ‘abaya’ dress and a matching purple hijab, even teaches kids four verses from the Quran.

The doll, which derives its name from the Arabic word for paradise, was originally created in 2013 after French businesswoman, Samira Amarir, wanted to design a toy that could enable her daughter “to learn the Quran fast and easily while she plays.”

After four years of travel to Chinese factories to get the doll produced, Amarir launched the doll in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE, where the doll is available today.

Read More: This Woman Is Challenging Stereotypes of Muslim Women With These Powerful Photos

Until now, no doll on the market approached the Islamic faith the way the Jenna doll does, creator Samira Amarir said. Furthermore, the creator did not see any dolls that she could “recognize herself in.”

After purchasing the Jenna the Quran teacher doll for her daughters, Aysh Siddiqua from Saudi Arabia, who blogs under the name Jeddah Mom, had only good things to say.

“As soon as we opened the box, my five-year-old remarked: ‘Mommy, she is just like you!’” Siddiqua wrote in her blog post. “Of course she is. She wears a full dress and a pretty hijab.”

Read More: Meet Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, a Global Citizen of America Who Is Giving Muslim Girls a Voice

The young mom included that what she loves the most about the doll is how it teaches her girls modesty and the Islamic faith.

“Jenna is a Muslimah doll. She is pretty, modestly dressed, has good manners and respects her adults. She loves reciting the Quran,” she wrote.

Siddiqua added that it was important to her that her daughters don’t “start wearing makeup or [give] importance to that [sic] kind of hobbies from the very young age.”

Only in recent years have consumers begun to call on the toy industry to create a more diverse representation of dolls for children.

“We all want to see ourselves reproduced or reflected in aspects of society that we deem are important,” Sabrina Thomas, Academic Dean for Social Studies at Duke, toldMSNBC.

Dolls like Jenna, Thomas argues are important for little girls to develop a “sense of self.”

Read More: This Safety Campaign Has Been Scrapped for ‘Sexualising’ Girl, Age 4, in a Hijab

“We need more toys that show diversity,” Siddiqua wrote in her review. “Jenna is a Muslimah doll that was much need [sic].”

Global Citizen campaigns on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including Global Goal 5, which works to empower all girls and women and achieve gender equality. Take action here.

TOPICSdolls, hijab, diversity, Islam, Jenna

Gabriella Canal studied Journalism and International Relations at the University of Miami. She has built a record of seeking out opportunities she feels strongly passionate about, and that require her to help inspire change. Social justice, writing, photography and videography are her passions. Sharing the stories of those affected by the world's biggest challenges in an effort to alleviate their conditions is her mission.

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SEPT. 28, 2017

Want to Stop Climate Change? Put More Girls in School, New Study Says

Educating girls ‘is most effective’ way to combat climate change, Brookings Institution says.

Daniele Selby

By Daniele Selby

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

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When natural disasters, often made worse by climate change, strike, it is typically the most vulnerable populations that suffer most — and in many countries that means girls and women.

But making sure girls and women get educations is a sure-fire way to help a community recover more quickly when disaster strikes, a new study says.

“Educating girls is one of the most effective but overlooked ways to mitigate against climate change,” the Brookings Institution wrote in a post about its findings.

Take Action: Ask EU, Sweden, Japan to Support Girls’ Education

Climate change tends to exacerbate poverty as well as gender inequality, particularly in places where girls are not valued as equals to boys, and therefore, receive less investment in their development and education, the study said. 

Why educating girls is one of the most effective—and overlooked—ways to combat climate change: http://brook.gs/2xMx3Af 

 
 

Read more: These Are the 10 Best Ways to Combat Climate Change, Experts Say

The risk of child marriage increases during vulnerable times and periods of instability, the report says. After a natural disaster, families’ financial resources may be stretched and marrying their daughters off could help to reduce their resource strain. If a bride price or dowry is customary, marrying a daughter off could even result in financial gain or increase household resources that could help the rest of the family cope with climate change-related disasters.

Read more: Nepal Earthquake Is Increasing Child Marriages

In places where girls’ education is not valued, girls are more likely to be pulled out of school to help deal with the impacts of climate change-related events, like being forced to leave school to help fetch water during a drought.

Read more: How Can Afghanistan Solve Climate Issues? Easy — Educate Girls

 

But the Brookings Institution’s recent study suggests that in order to better respond to and stop climate change, greater investment in girls education is needed.

“For every additional year of schooling a girl receives on average, her country’s resilience to climate disasters can be expected to improve by 3.2 points,” the report says.

By incorporating reproductive rights, leadership training, and other life skills into girls’ education curricula, the think tank says women and girls could notably help combat climate change and its impacts.

Global Citizen campaigns to support equal access to education and gender equality. You can take action to ensure that all girls have the opportunity to get an education here.

Teaching girls about their rights, specifically about their reproductive rights, helps to improve their health and could help stabilize poverty levels and keep girls in school longer. 

And by staying in school longer, girls acquire the knowledge and develop the skills they need to become more independent, capable people who will not be seen as burdens, but rather assets during crises.

Equipping girls with leadership and life skills through education could have a significant impact, the report found.

Studies show that female leaders are incredibly effective in conservation and protection efforts, and are more likely to pursue more sustainable futures for their communities,” a Brookings Institution blog post says.

#ClimateChange uniquely affects the world’s women – and they are uniquely empowered to make an impact: http://bit.ly/2xzrHVJ 

 
 

So teaching life skills focused on competencies like public speaking, critical thinking, and self-confidence can help to increase girls’ abilities to problem solve and respond to urgent situations like those they would have to deal with after a climate change-related crisis.

By increasing gender equality through education, girls can be made less vulnerable during natural disasters. They can more fully participate in recovery and response efforts, and help change perceptions so that girls will be seen as potential resources rather than resource strains.

Daniele is an Editorial Coordinator at Global Citizen. She believes that education and the equal provision of human rights will empower change. She studied music and psychology at Vassar before earning her Masters of International Affairs at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Daniele brings with her an unhealthy love of chili and chocolate, and a small, fluffy dog from the Little Red Dot (Singapore) to the Big Apple.

 

 

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