Evangelical Christian humanitarian group World Vision has launched a $500 million initiative to help 10 million poor children globally with water, health services and child protection, at a time when foreign aid continues to be threatened by government cuts and sequestration.
Under a sequestration cut of five percent, non-profit organizations estimate there will be 1.1 million fewer mosquito nets distributed, resulting in approximately 3,000 more malaria deaths; 303,000 fewer people will have access to clean water and improved sanitation; and two million fewer people will have either reduced access to food aid or be cut off altogether, warns the organization, which aims to raise $500 million by the end of 2015 through its "For Every Child" fundraising campaign.
"This is the most far-reaching endeavor in World Vision's history," says the organization's president, Richard Stearns, in a statement. "Our goals are ambitious and the impact we hope to make would transform the lives of a generation of children. This is not a fundraising campaign but a rescue mission for the children we help and also for the donors who step up to say this is worth the fight."
The World Vision initiative will focus on clean water, fighting against communicable diseases like malaria, providing loans so families can get a hand out of poverty, protecting children from trafficking, and support and partnering with local churches.
Foreign aid funding cuts will also have a bearing on private donations.
"We know from past experience that when government funding is cut, it can have an impact on private donations because we aren't able to get the initial seed money to get projects off the ground and attract investors," says Robert Zachritz, Senior Director for Advocacy and Government Relations at World Vision. "This initiative couldn't have come at a more important time to make sure we don't lose some of the major progress we've made in fighting childhood preventable disease."
Although foreign aid is facing cuts, initiatives to tackle poverty around the world are needed even more now.
The Millennium Development Goals have shown that a concerted push toward improvement in key areas can reduce unnecessary deaths and save lives. For example, the number of deaths of children under five years of age fell from 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011, according to estimates. "However, we're now less than 1,000 days away from the end of MDGs and still there is much work to be done," the World Vision's statement notes.
While the world has met the MDG in safe drinking water, World Vision says it is hoping to push beyond that goal and reduce the number by as much as 65 percent over the next five years in its targeted program areas.
"We've taken a hard look at the needs that exist today. They are great, but we refuse to believe that poverty is too big, too expensive, or too difficult to overcome – because for the millions of children living in poverty, the stakes couldn't be higher," Stearns says.