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Today is United Nations Day, celebrating the ratification of the U.N. Charter on Oct. 24, 1945. For the past 68 years, the U.N. has been a driving force in global humanitarian efforts. More recently, the body’s eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have become an essential metric for member countries and nonprofits to measure their impact and track their progress in working to alleviate the world’s greatest problems.

The MDGs aim to:

  • Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Many organizations, and many regular donors just like you, are committed to making progress on the MDGs. Browse the Jolkona Blog archive to learn more about the work that we’re doing with our partners to support these goals, including these posts:

Taking Collective Action

In his official statement for United Nations Day 2013, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stresses the importance of planning for what happens after the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals:

This year again, we saw the United Nations come together on armed conflict, human rights, the environment and many other issues. We continue to show what collective action can do. We can do even more. In a world that is more connected, we must be more united.

Collective action is also central to Jolkona’s mission, and is the essence of the Give Together monthly philanthropy program we launched earlier this year. When you join Give Together during October, your donation supports three projects working to help women and girls locally and globally, promoting gender equality (as per one of the MDGs). We also have matching funds this month from the Seattle International Foundation for projects related to women and girls, enabling us to double the first $1,500 donated to those Give Together and Give Direct projects until Nov. 1.

Which one inspires you to give? 

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.


The United Nations has designated Sept. 5 as the first-ever International Day of Charity. Set on the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, the goal of this annual observance is to spread the spirit of giving around the world, and educate communities about philanthropy and benevolent action. It’s the day for governments, NGOs, and individual philanthropists to actively engage in charity and to encourage others to do the same.

Sound familiar? Since our humble beginnings in 2008, Jolkona has done just that. By emphasizing that anyone can be a philanthropist, we have turned grassroots giving into a global impact. Check out the map above to see just what we’ve accomplished!

What can you do to commemorate International Day of Charity?

Support a Cause

This year’s International Day of Charity is focusing on access to clean water and sanitation. The U.N. will hold a panel at 12 p.m. PST (3 p.m. EST) to talk about what philanthropy can do to make a difference. To learn more, watch the live feed, or check out Jolkona’s related projects: Give as little as $5 to MADRE to install clean water collection points and tanks in communities and schools in rural Kenya.

Spread the Word

Use social media to follow and participate in this observance. On Facebook, visit the International Day of Charity page. On Twitter, follow @IntDayOfCharity, use #charityday in your tweets, or support the #charitydayun event by tweeting about the panel on clean water accessibility.

We’d also love to hear about your causes and your charitable activity online through Jolkona’s social media channels. Social media has had a huge impact on the way people give, enabling philanthropic organizations to be more innovative and creative with funding projects than ever before.

Make Philanthropy Communal

At Jolkona, we believe that small, high-impact donations — pooled together — are integral for spreading the awareness and accessibility of giving, especially among the newest generations of philanthropists. To make an even bigger impact, join our Give Together program to combine small monthly donations with your peers.

Together, we can make sure the first International Day of Charity is a success. Combine supporting a cause, spreading the word, and communal giving, and you can not only make a difference for someone else, but also amplify your impact by spreading the spirit of charity throughout your community. It’s a great opportunity to find new causes to support on Jolkona.org, through our Give Direct or Give Together programs, and sharing your impact.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.

The three of us who make up the writing and editing team, and many if not all of us at Jolkona, were brought into the world safely without any major set backs.

However, this is not the case for many women and children across the globe. One of our partners is hosting a project which assists those who face problems within the labor process in Palestine, and in honor of them and our 10 Days of Giving, the writing and editing team would like to highlight and support their cause.

The Scoop

Because of recent conflict that still continues today, the Israeli military has placed heavy restrictions on free movement. Due to several road closures in the West Bank, women in labor have been having difficulty traveling to hospitals safely. The United Nations estimates that around 2500 women face fatal or life-threatening complications while en route to receive assistance with labor. Consequently, the number of women who give birth without any proper medical attention has increased at the same time.

What We’re Doing About It

The writing and editing team here at Jolkona has created a campaign to help mothers and their children, while reducing these numbers. Lucky enough to have experienced safe births, the team is ready to help other mothers undergo healthy, successful deliveries while ensuring their children’s safety in the process.

The goal for the campaign is to raise $300 and provide six mothers and their children with these safe birth kits in an effort to support them in this difficult time.

Check out the video explaining what the campaign is all about:

How You Can Help

Support Safe Births in Palestine: Our partner, MADRE, has created a project to assist these women and children. Donations to the campaign start at $5, however, with your gift of just $50 you can provide a complete safe birth kit to a mother and child. As proof of who your donation has been helping, you will receive the mother and child’s name, as well.

MADRE, a partner of ours since 2009, is an international women’s human rights organization that works with community-based women’s organizations worldwide. Since the organization began in 1983, it has provided women in various countries around the globe with more than $25 million.

Support the Cause

Women and children in Palestine are in great need of our help with facilitating easier labor and deliveries. We invite you to join MADRE and us at Jolkona, with special help from the blogging and editing team, in supporting women and children in Palestine through our new campaign. Just in time for our 10 Days of Giving, a donation to the campaign is a great way to give back to the global community this holiday season.

Like Jolkona on Facebook, follow us on Twitter , and check us out on Pinterest to keep up with all of our ongoing projects.

It is estimated that a staggering 33.3 million people are living with HIV globally, and having killed over 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, HIV/AIDS has become one of the world’s most life threatening diseases, according to WorldAIDSDay.org.

The pandemic has been globally recognized once a year since the first world AIDS day was held in 1988, marking the creation of the first global health day. This Saturday, December 1, marks the 24th World AIDS Day, and a time when we should all reflect upon the millions of lives that the disease threatens and take action to fight the pandemic.

Phot credit due to worldaidscampaign.org

What You Can Do

Provide Medicine to HIV infected Kenyans with our partner Slum Doctor Programme (SDP). In Kenya, the government provides those infected with HIV/AIDS certain medicines to help fight the disease, but not with all the treatments that are needed. With a gift of $30 you can provide an infected individual in Kenya with two weeks of HIV treatment, or 1 month for $60. With your gift, SDP’s Tumaini Clinic program will help give free antiretroviral therapy that the government does not provide to Kenyans living with HIV.

Based out of Bellingham, WA, SDP also works locally to educate kids in middle school and high school with education about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Give Care to HIV Infected Cambodian Children: Cambodia is home to the highest number of HIV/AIDS in Asia.  Our partner New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC) works with orphaned children who are infected with HIV and often are not adopted because of their infection. By giving just $75 to NHCC you can support the medical needs of one HIV infected child for 6 months.

Promote Health Awareness in Kenya through Soccer: Our nonprofit partner Village Volunteers hosts a Kick it With Kenya program in which you can sponsor one child’s opportunity to gain health knowledge while having fun. While attending the soccer program, the child you sponsor will receive a health and HIV screening along with medical care, room and board, and a chance to take part in the fun, community-oriented soccer event.

You can also give a donation to the National AIDS Trust, or start a fundraiser of your own on their website, or begin a campaign on ours. The projects above, along with World AIDS day and everyone working to fight the disease worldwide will also work to accomplish one of the UN’s Millenium Development Goals, which is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Take Action

Whatever you do, we invite you to take action with us here at Jolkona and our sponsors around the globe who are working to fight the disease both today and throughout the year. Don’t forget to wear red in support of World AIDS Day and the fight against the pandemic on December 1 and give back to one of our campaigns to show your support!

To get more information on AIDS/HIV and learn the facts about the disease and World AIDS day, visit Worldaidsday.org and take the “Are you HIV aware” online quiz.

Like Jolkona on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check us out on Pinterest to keep up with all of our ongoing projects.

On December 14, 1954 the United Nations’ General Assembly suggested each country adopt a Universal Children’s Day, and today, November 20, is the day that is now recognized as such.

The day also marks the date the UN’s Assembly enacted the Declaration of the Rights of a Child and the Convention on the rights of the Child, the former in 1959 and the latter in 1989.

In recognition of this day, on which great accomplishments have been made for the world’s youth, we would like to highlight some of our projects that work to give back to kids everywhere, everyday.

Support the Cause

Help Families Fleeing from Famine in Somalia-Somalia is in a declared state of famine, due to the drought in the African Horn, which is the worst the nation has seen in 60 years. Those fighting famine are more prone to dehydration and the contraction of diseases; children are especially susceptible. With your donation of $50, our partner MADRE will provide 5 health kits to a family. Through your gift you will not only be supporting kids on this year’s Universal Children’s Day, but the families that help provide for them.

Support an Orphan in Kenya: More than one million children have been orphaned in Kenya due to high mortality rates from HIV/AIDS, leaving them without many basic necessities. Your $30 donation will provide one child with an outfit, and you will receive a photo of them wearing the clothes you gave. Any gift you decide to give will be provided to our partner, Global Roots, and to the Baraka Orphanage, which has successfully worked to find homes for over 1,800 orphans in the area.

Provide Maternal and Child Healthcare in Guatemala: With a high infant mortality rate, women in Guatemala are in need of assistance in the execution of healthy deliveries and infant care—the country’s infancy mortality rate is 33 per 1,000 live births, and is even higher in rural areas. With your gift of $166 you can provide a mother and child with one week and pre- and post-delivery care. Our partners program, Project Concern International’s (PCI) Casa Materna (Mother’s House), focuses on preventing disease, improving community health, and promoting sustainable development. Help us and PCI support children and mothers in Guatemala through this great opportunity.

Give an Overnight Experience to Underserved Youth in USA: Inspire our country’ youth to learn: by providing $30 to the Ron McNair Camp-In, you will give one child a partial scholarship to attend an overnight event at the Pacific Science Center, our partner who works together with Blacks in Science to host the event. The child you sponsor will receive the partial scholarship along with three meals during the event, and your donation will help cover the costs of the workshops, educators and supplies for the children.

A Global Gift

In support of both the UN’s Universal Children’s Day and its eight Millennium Development goals, we hope that you will help us celebrate this year’s Children’s Day by giving back to the youth of the world it celebrates. According to UNICEF, children directly benefit from at least 6 of the 8 of the UN’s Millennium Development goals, and are indirectly helped by the remaining two. Take a second to look at any of our projects, which address at least one of the goals in some way, and give back to our kids however you would like.

Like Jolkona on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check us out on Pinterest to keep up with all of our ongoing projects.

As a recent college graduate, I understand how important proper employment training is. The US economy has created a dog-eat-dog competition style in the job market where every ounce of experience and knowledge is incredibly valuable.

That’s why I have created a campaign with the goal of assisting at least 10 students in getting a month’s worth of various employment education classes in order to help increase their chances of getting a job after graduation.

Students are constantly being reminded about how tough the job market will be for them after graduation by the press, educators, peers and parents. Action needs to be taken now to support students and lift them up in an economy threatening to tear them down.

What You Can Do

Prepare Kids in USA to Become Employable Adults–The poor job market and status of the United States’ economy is a highly debated topic that is not likely to disappear anytime soon. Regardless of one’s opinion on how to best turn the economy around, it is clear that too many Americans are out of work.

Soccer in the Streets, who has partnered with Jolkona since 2010, conducts a project titled School of Life, which teaches the country’s youth about resume building, employment preparation, community service and much more.

The organization started in 1989 and has since positively influenced the lives of over 125,000 people. It is a member of the United Soccer Collaborative in the United States, and streetfootballworld internationally.

By giving a gift of just $25 to Soccer in the Streets School of Life program, you will help one student gain the skills needed to become employable upon graduation. A month’s worth of supplies will be provided to the School of Life program in order to help teach these skills.

Do Even More

For $150, you can provide a student with six months of life skill training programs and empower their future.

To help further, your gift of $300 will be used to sponsor a student in life skills training programs for an entire year, after which you will receive a video from the student describing all of their successes.

Let’s make good jobs a reality in our youths’ futures, not a dream.

The Bigger Picture

Although there seems to be nothing more important to some Americans than landing a good job during this time of economic disarray, this project contributes to a larger cause: achieving the United Nation’s goal of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2015.

With your small gift, you can help the UN reach this huge end by making sure our youth has the means to support themselves in the future, while influencing younger generations to give back to their communities.

Learn more about Soccer in the Streets by checking out its website, following them on Twitter, or liking them on Facebook.

By learning and teaching others about this amazing program, we can work to lower future unemployment rates–without relying on empty campaign promises. Take action for tomorrow today, right now.

Help my campaign, Jolkona and the UN accomplish our goals of creating a better future by giving to our youth.

Like Jolkona on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check us out on Pinterest to keep up with all of our ongoing projects.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s introduction to the United Nations’ set of Millennium Development Goals, I would like to share more exciting Jolkona projects that tie in with the remaining missions. Remember, United Nations Week runs through this Friday, October 26th!

Millennium Development Goals by 2015

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

  1. Target 5A:Reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters
  2. Target 5B: Achieve universal access to reproductive healthcare

Provide Maternal and Child Healthcare in Guatemala through Jolkona by making a donation toward pre and post-delivery care. Project Concern International, a trusted partner of ours since April 2010, envisions a world devoid of preventable birth complications and health problems. To realize this dream, they have designed their Mother’s House program to ensure mothers and newborns in Guatemala receive excellent care.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDs, Malaria, and Other Diseases

  1.  Target 6A: Have HIV/AIDS halted and begin to reverse the spread
  2.  Target 6B: Achieve universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for who need it
  3.  Target 6C: Have incidences of malaria and other major disease halted

Give Care to HIV-Infected Cambodian Children by aligning yourself with New Hope for Cambodian Children. Their services are in extremely high demand; tens of thousands of children and their families are suffering from HIV/AIDs. The group’s ambitious project is the creation of “Our Village,” a miraculous 18 acre hub where orphaned or otherwise abandoned children may live, learn and receive desperately needed health services.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Plant Trees in Senegal in no time with the assistance of Trees for the Future. The benefits of planting new trees cannot be overstated. They are not only important for our future; they are part and parcel of any sustainable future — period. For about the cost of a latte you can get a whopping 50 trees planted. Trees for the Future’s agroforestry specimens grow quickly and live out long lives. Reduce your carbon footprint, contribute to land restoration in the region, and provide a struggling individual with an opportunity for income.

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Sponsor Your Fellows to Help Earthquake Victims and contribute to a new generation of Japanese entrepreneurs and philanthropists. iLEAP/ETIC’s Disaster Recovery Leadership Program is an awe-inspiring 3-12 month commitment for determined individuals in their 20s and 30s. Myriad disaster relief and community development projects in Japan are in need of immediate, passionate leadership. Sponsor a young adult in their effort to cultivate their own social consciousness and work out tangible, positive changes in their community.

Do (UN)to Others as You Would Have Done Unto You

The UN is a leading light in the international community for good will and stewardship. Jolkona is proud to stand behind their Millennium Development Goals as defining characteristics for the partners and projects we connect with. By learning about the crux of the UN’s mission and Jolkona’s related ambitions, philanthropists can become informed about the present and optimistic about the future.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest and keep up to date with all we are doing and the impact you are making.

I learned extensively about how the United Nations operates during my time in high school by participating in Model UN. Whether doing mock sessions in the classroom or attending multi-day conferences with fellow high schoolers, I devoted time to research, oratory skills and argument-building. My ability to think critically benefited greatly from this period in my life – but it is the diplomacy and goodwill that I experienced in the program which resonates with me most clearly to this day.

Show Your Support for Peacemaking

Today, October 24th, is United Nations Day, a moment to celebrate the UN’s impact, spread its mission, and build international support for its goals. Here at Jolkona, the United Nations’ Millennium Goals vitally inform the partners and projects we align ourselves with. They are a set of ambitious targets endorsed by all 193 member states in the UN. The breadth and depth of the goals serve to arm non-profits, governments, politicians, activists and citizens all over the world with a blueprint for change.

Jolkona’s projects below relate directly to the UN’s ongoing objectives. They are geared towards the health, education and empowerment of children, men, and women – among other exceptional missions!

United Nations Millennium Development Goals

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

  1. Target 1A: Halve the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day
  2. Target 1B: Achieve Decent Employment for Women, Men, and Young People
  3. Target 1C: Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Feed a Hungry Family in Nicaragua and contribute to long-lasting food development for families in Nicaragua. Through the help of MADRE, donations will provide seeds, farming supplies, and agricultural training to men and women in need. Sustainable models for saving people from poverty and hunger are achievable with nonprofits such as MADRE.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

  1. Target 2A: Ensure all children can complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015

Give Books and Education to Children in Myanmar by supporting Educational Empowerment, an organization Jolkona started partnering with in August 2012. Educational access and opportunity is their modus operandi; and with a simple $25 gift a library in Myanmar, Burma can be stocked with local books for elementary-age children. Do what you can to facilitate the UN’s goal to successfully provide primary education for all.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

  1. Target 3A: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015

Provide Business Opportunities for Peruvian Women through Awamaki, a non-profit based in Peru that works on economic development in rural communities in the area, where opportunities for education and entrepreneurship are scarce. Basket-weaving women from Quechua-speaking villages are presented with workshops and materials to improve the quality of their product – and even resources for ascertaining greater business independence. Give to Awamaki through Jolkona and empower women today.

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality Rates

  1. Target 4A: Between 1990 and 2015, reduce the rate of mortality for children under five by two-thirds.

Save a Young Child from Diarrhea in India with a gift of only $10. Calcutta Kids has been tirelessly aiding Indian children since 2004, providing access to and education on health care, nutrition, and medicine. Oral rehydration solution and Zinc Sulphate is administered from top Calcutta medical professionals to ensure children do not succumb to deathly dehydration. Calcutta Kids’ follow-up therapy and life-counseling is life-changing.

Check in tomorrow to learn about the UN’s four additional Millennium Development Goals, and celebrate United Nations week all week long with Jolkona.

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The gift of an education was the greatest thing anyone could have given me as a child and young adult. It’s what has allowed me to write this–and you to read it.

Here at Jolkona we know that learning leads to better lives and better communities, and have partnered with local, national and international projects working not only to make sure the youth of every country has primary education, but to take learning a few steps further wherever possible.

In recognition of UN week, we would like to highlight some of our partners that contribute to the accomplishment of at least one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals: to provide universal primary education by 2015.

What You Can Do to Help

Provide education to girls in Liberia: The More Than Me Foundation works to get girls in Liberia and West Africa into schools and helps to provide students with books, scholarships, and more. More than 61% of the most impoverished school aged girls in the Liberia are not receiving an education. The foundation has begun to help by already successfully putting more than 100 girls into schooling with full support.

You can give two girls a year of school supplies for only $25, or give four girls mandatory uniforms for only $50. If you want to take your generosity one step further, $100 will give a girl an education for a semester, and $250 will give the gift of education for an entire year.

Give books and education to children in Myanmar: Our non-profit partner Education Empowerment works to help provide kindergartens in rural areas with libraries full of books tailored towards the students’ reading levels. According to UNICEF, 70% of children in Myanmar who are able to attend primary school do not finish, and 33% never even begin.

Your small gift of $25 helps stock a library in Burma, and $50 will provide class materials for 50 Burmese students for 1 year. Either gift will give on for a lifetime.

Support Youth Led Journalism in the United States: Ashoka Youth Venture Seattle’s project, the Beat, tackles primary education with hands-on leadership by helping aspiring young reporters, photographers, illustrators and writers in the Issaquah area get published, and more importantly, noticed.  Through the Beat, teens publish a self-made page in the Issaquah Press.

Youth Venture is already inspiring young locals to get involved intellectually at the public level.

Through the course of extensive research required for writing about issues for the Beat, I hope to develop my own understanding, wrote Nitin Shyamkumar of Skyline High School in one of his articles for the Beat.

With $50, you can sponsor one student’s story and provide them with real-world working experience and understanding. For a $500 donation, you will sponsor an issue of The Beat and receive a digital copy, while helping the youth establish a more active voice in their community.

Help Educated Underserved Youth of Color in USA: Less than 25% of children of color in Washington State in the 8th grade receive a score of Proficient or higher on national math and science tests. The Technology Access Foundation is working to help increase that percentage by preparing underserved 6-12 graders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math for an on-track high school graduation and college beginning.

Your gift of just $30 will provide a student with headphones needed for Techstart, and for $35 you can provide headphones for language classes. You can also give an entire language arts class literature curriculum for a year for just $50, or help purchase robotics kits for students for the same amount.

Take Action

Give to these great projects or any of our other partners working to accomplish the UN’s goal today and help provide universal education to the youth across the globe. It may just be the best gift you give this holiday season.

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and check out our Pinterest to stay up to date with what’s happening all of our projects.

Global Partnership, MDG 8; Jolkona in Africa

Develop a global partnership for development

The final of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is developing a global partnership for development. This does sound a little recursive, but it is actually significant for the achievement of the other seven goals.

Targets

The UN identifies 6 targets as metrics for achieving goal 8.

  1. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system
  2. Address the special needs of the least developed countries
  3. Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing states
  4. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries
  5. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
  6. In cooperation with the private sector, make available new technologies, especially information and communications

Teamwork

At its heart, the focus of goal 8 is getting everyone on the “same page” when it comes to development work around the globe. This a solution to the fact that many of the problems faced by people in the developing world today are too big or complicated for a single actor–whether an NGO or a government–to take on alone. The aim of goal 8, then, is to demonstrate that organizations can better serve others when they can focus on one area of strength and find partners in other areas. One common disconnect for organizations is between donors and the field: many organizations excel at doing work in the field but struggle with how to connect with donors who can fund their projects.

Small donations having measurable impact

Part of what makes Jolkona so unique as a foundation is that ability to connect individual donors to the larger picture of progress being made on the Millennium Development Goals on many fronts. This is one MDG where Jolkona is directly involved in meeting the targets. By connecting donors and development organizations, not only is Jolkona funding important projects around the world, Jolkona is fostering partnerships.

How you can help

Since Jolkona is directly involved in building these essential partnerships, you can help achieve goal 8 by donating to the Kona fund. This is what keeps Jolkona operating, allows us to add new partners, and allows us to have staff, volunteers and interns working to achieve all of the MDGs.

  1. Donate to the Jolkona Kona fund
  2. Sponsor a volunteer meeting
  3. Add a new project to Jolkona.org

For more information on Jolkona and its mission (especially if you haven’t already!) take a look at our about us page.

Ensure environmental sustainability

As we near the end of our series on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and how they relate to Jolkona, we look this week at environmental sustainability.

Targets

There are four targets the UN sets for achievement of goal 7:

  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss
  3. Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
  4. By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Expansive scope

With the exception of the first goal of eliminating extreme hunger and poverty, perhaps no other goal is as broad reaching as goal 7. Any one of the targets of goal 7 could likely be a goal unto themselves. Sustainable development and the preservation of rain forests has a huge impact on environment and economics of the developing world. And there are in fact hundreds of millions of people living in slum conditions around the world today. But the target we will focus on today is that of clean drinking water and sanitation.

Clean water

What makes clean water so important? Quite simply, water is life. While it varies somewhat, the average human can only survive three days without water. Because water is so vital to life, many people are forced to drink unclean water because that is all they have available. The problem is a host of horrible diseases–like Cholera and Hepatitis, for example–can be contracted through consumption of dirty or polluted water.

On top of the risk of disease, a huge economic drain is created when people (most often women and children) are forced to walk long distances to acquire water, whether it is clean or not. This travel time is time spent out of school or work. Some estimates place the economic cost, for Africa alone, at $28 BILLION dollars per year.

The good news is that many organizations are doing a great job of drilling wells and working on other clean water projects. The bad news is that even as there are many organizations working on this, it remains a huge issue for billions of people around the globe.

How you can help

Here are a list of Jolkona projects supporting goal 7:

  1. Plant trees in Ethiopia
  2. Provide clean water in Kenya
  3. Provide ceramic water filters in Kenya

For more information about the issue of access to clean water, check out Charity: Water’s great “Why water” page.

End malaria now_bestdamntech

Combat HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases

Continuing our series on how the United Nations Millennium Development Goals relate to Jolkona, we look today at Goal 6.

One of the biggest challenges in development remains combatting the effects of pandemic, preventable disease. One UN report estimates that malaria alone saps up to 1.3% of the yearly economic growth of some African countries. That 1% might not sound like a lot, but when spread across an entire economy over several years, it could mean tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of lost economic productivity.

In part for this reason, the United Nations Millennium Development Goal #6 is fighting the effects of HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases.

Target metrics

mdg 6

The UN identifies three target metrics for fighting communicable disease.

  1. Have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDs by 2015
  2. Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDs
  3. Have halted and begun to reverse the incidence of Malaria and other major diseases by 2015

The fight against HIV/AIDs

Currently there are some 34 million people living in the world with HIV. While there is no cure, in the developed world HIV/AIDs rates among the general population remain low and there are treatment options available for managing the disease. In many developing countries however, rates of infection run much higher and few, if any, treatment options are available. Recognizing the role pandemic disease plays in slowing economic development the United Nations Development Programme is one of the agencies at the front of helping countries deal with HIV/AIDs.

Successes

While HIV/AIDs and Malaria continue to be huge problems in public health worldwide, it is important to remember that there have been successes in eradicating pandemic diseases before. Smallpox, which killed an estimated 300-500 million people during the 20th century was completely eradicated by 1979 thanks in part to efforts spearheaded by the World Health Organization. And while the fight against Malaria and HIV/AIDs can seem daunting, some hopeful estimates put Polio–another once pandemic disease–near eradication in the near future.

How you can help

Here are some current Jolkona projects working toward Goal 6.

  1. Supply medicine to children in Sierra Leone
  2. Give care to HIV-infected children in Cambodia
  3. Help build latrines in Haiti

Photo Credit: Drew Olanoff

Improve maternal health

Today we look at the fifth goal in our series on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Goal five is improving maternal health.

Two targets

In achieving goal 5, the UN has two metrics they use for measuring success.

  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive healthcare

Maternal mortality

Childbirth is one of the most dangerous activities for women in the developing world. Any number of things can go wrong in the birthing process that endanger not just the health and life of the child, but the mother as well. From hemorrhaging to breech births to infection, thousands of women die every year giving birth.

Just a quick glance at the statistics reveals how much a concern this is in development work. Compare countries like Chad, Somalia and Afghanistan—where over 1000 women die per 100,000 births—with a country like Germany—where just 7 women die per 100,000 births. (Statistics via the World Health Statistics 2011 report.)

Reproductive health

An important part of reducing the maternal mortality rate is making sure all women have access to reproductive healthcare. This ranges from family planning to skilled birthing assistants to clean, sterile birthing environments.

Family planning is one of the best and most certain ways of reducing maternal mortality–fewer births equal less risk for the mother. However, family planning is also a highly controversial topic in many countries where religious or cultural concerns over contraception and discussion of reproductive issues outside of the family is considered taboo.

Far less controversial is access to skilled birthing assistants, especially midwives and medical professionals. Having a trained birthing assistant with sterile medical equipment and a clean environment goes a long way toward eliminating the risk of infection for both the mother and child.

Take a look at this slideshow from the Gates Foundation for the story of a woman in Nepal and the difference access to a birthing assistant made for her.

How you can help

Here is a list of Jolkona projects that work to support the goal of improving maternal health.

  1. Provide medical supplies in Bangladesh
  2. Support safe births in Palestine
  3. Provide healthcare to Nepalese women
  4. Adopt a mother in India

Child health and mortality

Goal 4 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

What is child mortality?

Child mortality, in this case, is the number of deaths per 1000 children under the age of 5.

Statistics

According to UNICEF, “Most child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, pre-term delivery or lack of oxygen at birth.” Further, most of these deaths take place in the developing world. Modern public health efforts and medical technologies have largely eliminated the threats of disease and premature birth in the developed world.

This is abundantly clear when looking at the countries where child mortality is highest and lowest:

Bottom 5 –

  1. Chad – 209 deaths by age 5 per 1000 live births
  2. Afghanistan – 199 deaths
  3. Democratic Republic of the Congo – 199 deaths
  4. Guinea-Bissau – 193 deaths
  5. Sierra Leone – 192 deaths

Top 5 –

  1. Japan, Singapore, Cyprus, Finland, Iceland, Slovenia, and Sweden – 3 deaths
  2. Luxembourg and San Marino – 2

The average for countries in the America’s is 18, in Europe it is 13. In Africa, the country average number of child deaths by age 5 is 127!

(via World Health Statistics 2011 report)

What is being done

Fortunately progress is being made on several fronts to improve the health of children under 5 around the globe. Some of this progress is at a very structural level, increasing funding for hospitals and medical clinics to ensure emergency care is necessary in acute cases of illness. Some progress is also being made in vaccination programs, working to eliminate diseases like measles and polio through coordinated vaccine programs.

For more information, and a few laughs, take a look at Hans Rosling’s TEDxChange talk from September of 2010 about progress being made on Goal 4.

 

How you can help

Here are a list of Jolkona projects that are working toward achieving Goal 4

  1. Save a Young Child from Diarrhea in India
  2. Adopt a Mother in India
  3. Provide Maternal and Child Healthcare in Guatemala

The MDGs and Gender Equality

Promote gender equality and empower women

The third goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is “Promote gender equality and empower women.” This includes equality in education, labor rights, health care, and legal and political access.

Often in the development context, even in situations where all indicators point to progress, women and girls lag behind. For example, a 2008 UNESCO report found that out of an estimated 774million adults who lack basic literacy, 64% are women.

Importance of education

As is often the case in the long-term development context, education is the foundation for real progress. The stated target of goal 3 is, in fact, to eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education no later than 2015.

Girls who receive an education have a higher income earning potential than those who do not, between 10% and 20% more for every year of education they complete. With higher income comes a healthier family, as women can buy better food for their children. They can afford to keep their children in school longer, instead of keeping them home to work. Educated women are also more likely to participate in politics, not just by voting but also by running for public office.

Change now

While education is important in the long-term for women in developing countries, they face many pressing short-term issues as well.

Women, whether they have received an education or not, face great discrimination in the work place. They lack equal pay for equal work, lack maternity leave, face sexual harassment, or are not allowed to hold the same jobs or do the same kinds of work as men. A report from UNICEF in 2007 found that while women perform 66% of the world’s “work” and produce 50% of all food, they earn just 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property.

If women are to meet the short-term metrics of the MDGs, significant political and economic reform must take place in many developing countries. There is hope for change though. CGAP, an independent policy and research center housed at the World Bank, says the following about what happens when women are the focus of micro-finance development programs:

“Women often become more assertive and confident. In regions where women’s mobility is strictly regulated, women have often become more visible and are better able to negotiate the public sphere. Women involved in microfinance may also own assets, including land and housing, and play a stronger role in decision making. In some programs that have been active over many years, there are even reports of declining levels of violence against women.” (via CGAP.org)

 

Making change happen

How you can help

As I am sure you have noticed, Jolkona launched a new campaign with the Seattle International Foundation to provide grassroots leadership training to women from around the world. Though the Groupon deal that helped launch the campaign has ended, you can still contribute through the Jolkona project page.

Here are a list of additional projects Jolkona currently supports that are in line with the Millennium Development Goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women.

  1. Provide education to the females of Afghanistan
  2. Support women farmers in Sudan
  3. Ignite girls’ leadership in Pakistan

For more information on the work the United Nations is doing focused on goal 3, take a look at the UN Women MDG page.

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