This month marks the occasions of the International Day for Eradication of Poverty (October 17) and World Food Day (October 16), with both days aimed to raise awareness of poverty and hunger across the globe. On these occasions, Dubai Cares highlights the role of education in putting an end to poverty and eliminating the hardship of children living in misery and deprivation across the world.
Dubai Cares' mandate to eradicate poverty through education lies at the very heart of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, which was recently launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, focusing on fighting poverty and illness; spreading knowledge and culture; empowering the community and driving innovation.
Commenting on the continuous guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to Dubai Cares , Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, said: "Arising from the vision and guidance of our founder His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who believes in the power education to eradicate poverty, and in line with his recently launched Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives which sets clear goals on all development fronts, Dubai Cares continues to invest in innovative education programs that tackle key global issues such as poverty and hunger."
The International Day for Eradication of Poverty this year is celebrated under the theme "Building a Sustainable Future: Coming Together to End Poverty and Discrimination". Poverty, defined as any individual living on less than AED 4.6 (USD1.25) a day, remains a tragic reality for far too many men, women and children across the world, equaling to a daily life of struggle, hunger, deprivation, disease and undermined human rights. Although much progress has been achieved in the past 15 years, there are still more than a billion people living in poverty. According to UNESCO, if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. This is equal to a 12% cut in global poverty. Moreover, one extra year of schooling increases an individual's earnings by up to 10%.
"Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty" has been chosen as the theme of this year's World Food Day, shedding light on the significance of securing food or means to buy food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, one in nine people worldwide live with chronic hunger, with the costs of hunger and malnutrition falling heavily on the most vulnerable. Moreover, almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year. The most effective investment for achieving long-term health benefits is educating girls and women. Girls' education is often the single most powerful factor affecting health outcomes such as infant and maternal mortality.
"The power of education cross-cuts every part of an individual's development. It is an enabler of economic progression as well as a tool that guides informed decision making. Educated children and youth are better versed to lift themselves out of poverty and avoid the drawbacks that can put them back into it. Similarly, educated parents are better informed on aspects of proper child nutrition and development," Al Gurg continues.
Dubai Cares is leading the way in identifying innovative solutions to ensure that children flourish and in turn, initiate long-lasting change in their communities. Over the past 8 years, the organization's programs have reached 14 million beneficiaries in 41 developing countries, helping combat poverty and malnutrition through education. The organization has launched school feeding programs particularly in countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana and Palestine.
In Bangladesh, Dubai Cares provided supplementary nutrition to children aged 5 to 11 years through government and NGO schools to ensure nutritious fortified food is available to vulnerable children in the country. In Ethiopia, Dubai Cares piloted a contemporary cost-effective, nationally-owned and sustainable school health and nutrition model, which aims to provide locally sourced school meals to feed vulnerable children by integrating existing government and cooperative structures, school health and nutrition information packs and capacity building programs, inclusive of deworming and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). Dubai Cares also provided food assistance for Somali refugees in Ethiopia as part of Dine out for Somalia campaign. In Ghana, Dubai Cares supported a government owned home grown school feeding program, which aims to support the local government's poverty reduction strategies, with a particular focus on education, food security and rural development. In Palestine, Dubai Cares worked to maintain enrolment rates of girls and boys in schools in Gaza at pre-crisis levels through school feeding coverage.
"Every person has the basic right to dignity, access to education and economic well-being. It is our duty, not just as an organization but as global citizens to show that we care and can contribute to eradicating extreme poverty, hunger and build a sustainable future through education," Al Gurg concluded.