‘Not even water?’ How Ramadan is more than just fasting – Islam’s contribution to international development

By Noor Umar

Perhaps, an oversimplified understanding of Ramadan is that of the month in which Muslims fast. This means no food or drink (yes, not even water!) is permitted from sunrise to sunset. A month more commonly known for this physical act of fasting, is more often than not, a lot more spiritual and enriching than its widespread conception. As we approach the halfway mark of this year’s Ramadan, I find myself having a lot of introspection. As I’ve grown older it has become clear to me that the month of Ramadan is an opportunity to grow your sense of empathy and compassion, to purify your heart and to realign your priorities. Let’s discuss what this means exactly.

In order to contextualise the importance of the month let’s go over the basic facts. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe it is in this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him; PBUH). During this month we take on more religious activities in an effort to grow our connection with God. We believe that fasting is an abstention at both a physical and spiritual level, hence its advantages are also both physical and spiritual. The practical benefits of fasting include increased discipline, self-restraint and the detoxification of health. However, for many Muslims this alone is not their motivation. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul from harmful impurities. Consequently, you may feel more connected to God, Islam, and in some senses, yourself. Amongst these I find that the most important lesson learnt from the month of Ramadan is that of gratitude. By establishing a verstehen for those living in poverty, areas of conflict or in famine, we gain an added sense of empathy for those less fortunate than ourselves. Let me tell you – it is very humbling. With over 690 million of the world’s population not having enough to eat, now is as good a time as any to feel compassion.

This theme of compassion is not exclusive to Ramadan. Islam places a heavy emphasis on the importance of charity and solidarity. Waqf (charity) can be thought of in two ways: Sadaqah (voluntary charity), and Zakat (obligatory charity). Sadaqah is not bound to financial or physical charity work but can also pertain to any and all acts of righteousness. For example, something as simple as smiling at a stranger or giving someone directions can be considered Sadaqah. Contrastingly, Zakat (directly translated as ‘almsgiving’), is the fifth and final pillar of Islam whereby Muslims are obligated to donate 2.5% of their savings to a worthy cause. The types of causes are detailed as follows: to those who are stranded with limited supplies, those in debt, those in bondage, the needy and poor, new Muslims and lastly, for the cause of Allah e.g. a Madrasah. It is due to these aspects of the faith that Muslims have become a vital contributor to international development.

Whilst Muslims are encouraged to give Sadaqah all year round, we take the opportunity to do more during the holy month for the sake of multiplied return. During Ramadan any and all good deeds are guaranteed to have a multiplied return in the hereafter. We are not told exactly by how much this reward is amplified, as ultimately this is at God’s discretion, but it can be imagined that rewards may be multiplied by tens, hundreds and even thousands. So, as you can imagine this becomes a huge motivation for Muslims to increase their participation in charitable causes. As stated before, these acts of charity do not have to be financial. Sadqah can be claimed in the simplest of things – helping the elderly cross the road, cleaning the mosque, even giving way to another car while driving. All of these simple tasks that we do on a daily basis and may not even register or account for, are considered in Islam as reward worthy good deeds. For myself, and I imagine for many other Muslims, there is an incredible comfort in knowing this. Knowing that our religion preaches and rewards us for being good, helpful and compassionate people whilst recognising that not everyone is able to make great big donations. 

Having established the non-financial charity undertaken by Muslims, let’s discuss Zakat and its effect on international development.  Whilst it is not necessary for Muslims to give Zakat during Ramadan, many Muslims take the opportunity in order to avail the multiplied good returns given during this holy month. In 2015, the World Bank estimated the annual global Zakat contribution was worth between £152 billion and £763 billion. To put that in context, the entire UK charity sector annual income is about £50 billion – and to think this Zakat alone, not including other optional charity! In 2016, UK Muslims were reported to have donated £100 million to charity – that is £36 per second. Granted this total is not entirely derived by the means of Zakat, this is still a staggering amount. More recently, in 2020, it’s been estimated that UK Muslims gave a record breaking £150 million and predictions for this year’s Ramadan predicting the  UK Muslim charity giving of zakat donations is likely to exceed £150m. These donations are given locally and globally to any of the causes mentioned above.

My own experiences have shown me the outpouring generosity shown during this month. For example, just last night I had a conversation with my father in which he shared about his recent trip to the mosque. He told me that in the last three nights alone, the mosque had raised £40,000 for their local homeless community, refugee families and humanitarian aid for Yemen. This is an example of one mosque and in one town, over the course of three nights. Hence, the contribution and the effect Muslims and ultimately the month of Ramadan has on international development is undeniable.

As I’ve mentioned, I find that this month is an opportunity for introspection. As I’ve grown older, the beauty of Ramadan has become clearer and clearer. So, when asked ‘not even water?,’ I often struggle to put into words just how much Ramadan means to me and to Muslims all around the globe. Ramadan serves as a reminder of a life unbound by greed, one that does not require constant consumption to experience satisfaction.

If you take one thing from this blog, I hope it is a heightened urge to go for those good deeds. Even for non-Muslims, I hope that Ramadan serves as a reminder that there is good in doing good and being good. Actions you can take this month – a donation to a current cause or your favourite charity, but beyond the financial contributions, as detailed in the blog there are everyday ways to give back to our communities. You can also do your part by emailing your MP on issues that you feel strongly about, signing that petition that’s been sitting in your mailbox, or spreading awareness on your social media about worthy causes. These campaigning methods that don’t cost a penny are equally worthy contributions to international development. We hope that with upcoming Results campaigns this year you can relate back to these teachings of Islam, and feel inspired to do your part however big or small. 

Why we must eradicate tuberculosis

A joint call this World TB Day 2022, by RESULTS Manchester and RESULTS Brighton

What is TB?

Tuberculosis (TB) is preventable, detectable and curable, but treating a TB infection is a lengthy, complex process.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection mainly affecting the lungs. It is spread between humans by coughing and sneezing; one can catch TB if they inhale droplets from an infected person. Symptoms include coughing, fever, weight loss and sweating at night, and occur if the immune system is unable to kill or contain the; this is known as active TB. When the bacteria are contained, the TB is latent, and no symptoms occur. According to the WHO, symptoms can be mild for several months, meaning an individual with active TB can pass on the disease to others at a rate of 5-15 people per year. 45% of infected HIV-negative people who have not received proper treatment die from the disease, and nearly all HIV-positive people who have not been treated properly die. This highlights the importance of recognising TB symptoms and ensuring everyone across the globe has access to treatment.

Laura: London, UK.
Laura was preparing for an “epic-six-month- adventure-around-the-world trip” when she was diagnosed with pulmonary TB in November. Like many, she thought TB was a Victorian disease that didn’t exist in the UK anymore. She’d had a cough since February and had been seen by six doctors over nine months, each dismissing her symptoms.//In retrospect, she thinks TB didn’t come to her doctors’ minds because as a white, healthy, 29- year-old woman living in London, she didn’t exactly fit the TB patient stereotype. Unlike many of those diagnosed with TB, she had access to treatment straight away.
She quarantined for three weeks and began a strict regime of nine pills a day. Thankfully, Laura responded well to treatment and after two months the cough subsided. She was able to go on her trip with a backpack full of medication.
Today her lungs retain scarring, but she is training to run a 10k race and wants people to know TB doesn’t have to ruin your life. Her story is a stark reminder that TB can infect any of us, no matter the privilege.
However, access to treatment remains a question of privilege.

TB Cases in 2020

Tuberculosis (TB) is the second leading infectious killer after covid-19 and the 13th leading cause of death in the world. The current pandemic has disrupted health services across the globe, decreasing access to care for TB patients. 2020 saw 1.5 million deaths from TB globally, more than in 2019. Approximately one quarter of the world population is infected with latent TB that is not yet transmissible. People with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes have a much higher risk of falling ill with TB.

While TB is present in all countries, in 2020 two thirds of all cases come from just eight countries: India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa. Furthermore, the top thirty countries with the highest incidence of TB account for 86% of world TB cases and over 95% of TB deaths are in developing countries. This shows how TB can disproportionally affect those living in low- and middle- income countries, as they also have a higher incidence of people living with HIV and malnutrition.

Mansi Khade: Mumbai, India
At only 19 years of age, Mansi Khade was diagnosed with Extensively Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
“I was a completely normal college kid living a normal life with normal routines. I was at the point in my life where I was beginning to pursue my dreams, but after going to the doctor for a routine thyroid test, I was diagnosed with TB.”
Mansi was told by the doctor that she only had six months to live. India has the highest burden of TB in the world, and Mansi had already watched her grandfather, uncle and father all suffer with the disease, making her fully aware of the social stigmas surrounding it.
There is a huge stigma against tuberculosis throughout India due to lack of awareness about the disease as well as lack of investment in research. This serves to exacerbate the spread and severity of the disease.
“I didn’t want my family to struggle even more because of me, so I tried not to show my pain. But people stopped coming to our house because I had TB, and they didn’t understand that it wasn’t my fault.”
Watching her father (who lost his eyesight to the disease) eventually beat TB, Mansi was inspired to ignore what the doctors had told her, and decided to undergo over 2 years of treatment and surgery to remove part of her lung.
Today she is cured and is fighting to finally put an end to the Tuberculosis epidemic.
I don’t want this to happen to future generations,” she says. “It’s very important, especially for women, to end the stigma surrounding TB. In India, particularly in rural areas, females receive less emotional support from family and friends, and have less access to nutrition and health services. We need to speak up.”

The Cure for TB

Since 2000, approximately 66 million lives have been saved through TB diagnosis and treatment. TB is a curable disease and can be treated through a standard six-month course of four antimicrobial drugs. This is often provided with the support of a health worker or trained volunteer. Without this professional support adherence to the treatment plan is made a whole lot more difficult.

This is further complicated by the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB that is a lot harder to treat and can leave patients without any further treatment options. Multidrug-resistant TB is a form of TB that is caused by bacteria that does not respond to the two most effective first-line anti TB drugs. This remains a public health crisis and health security threat. In 2020 only around one in three people with drug resistant TB were able to access treatment.

So, if TB is a curable disease, why is it still such a big problem in the 21st century? The answer: money. In order to hit UN-agreed global targets $13 billion is needed annually for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. The real issue here is that funding for TB in low- and middle-income countries falls too short of what is needed, while they make up 98% of global cases. In 2020, spending amounted to $5.3 billion which makes up only 41% of the global target. How are we supposed to eradicate TB when the funding does not go to the countries that need it the most?

What can be done?

The scale of investment needed to fund essential TB services and develop new TB innovations which can bring about an end to the disease, means that it’s cannot be down to individuals, but to governments. Yet individuals have a role to play in creating the political will to end TB.

In 2022, we have a real chance.

The last two years have brought infectious disease onto the agenda like never before in our lifetimes. We need to harness this momentum and ensure that commitment to ending new pandemics also translates into action and funding to end existing epidemics by 2030. 2022 is a crucial year because:

  • It’s the run-up to the 2023 United Nations High-Level meeting on TB, where UN leaders will making new commitments in the strategy to end TB.
  • It’s also the next replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria – a campaign to secure funding for the Global Fund’s work in 2023-2025 from governments around the world.

You can help build the political will to #EndTB by:

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how much can be done when politicians and the public are interested. We must see this same level of commitment to ending TB.

Sources:
Laura’s story: https://www.thetruthabouttb.org/tb-stories/laura/
Mansi Khade’s story: https://www.jnj.com/personal-stories/my-tb-story-meet-two-surprising-tuberculosis-survivors-who-could-be-you?_amp=true

Hunger is not just about food

Hunger kills more than AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined. 690 million of the world’s population do not have enough to eat. Malnutrition affects lifelong development and contributes to half of the world’s child deaths. 98% of the world’s undernourished live in low and middle-income countries. 

Hunger is the term used to define periods when populations experience severe food insecurity- meaning they go for entire days without eating. The threshold for food deprivation, or undernourishment, is fewer than 1,800 calories per day. Undernutrition goes beyond calories to deficiencies in protein, and/or essential vitamins and minerals. In 2015, world leaders charted a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The second of these is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030. 34 million people in 20 countries are teetering on the brink of famine. The world is not on track to achieve the SDG 2.1 Zero Hunger target by 2030. 

Hunger is inextricably linked to a network of other complex issues including health, women’s rights, economic opportunities, the environment, and education to name a few. Children need nutrients for their development. Hunger and malnutrition affect a child’s ability to concentrate, to take in and retain new information and to make progress in their learning. This is no surprise. Calories provide energy. Without energy, a child cannot thrive. An analysis by Save the Children, endorsed by major nutrition focused NGOs, suggests that pandemic-related increases in malnutrition could result in 4.4 million years in lost education. 

Hunger is not just biological, there is an immense psychological impact too. Brain development is impeded and children may become depressed and detached from life. A World Food Programme report describes the children of the Grand Sud of Madagascar. They ‘do not run around or play, they just sit and look through you. In their eyes is deep, deep sadness and sorrow. Women have nothing to feed their babies except the fruit of red cacti growing by the roadside’. Around 1.14 million people in the south of Madagascar are facing high levels of acute food insecurity. The crisis is a result of multiple factors, including deforestation and climate change. Children are the worst affected. Most have dropped out of school to beg for food in the streets. The situation is deteriorating fast and current support is not enough to offset the impact and the risk of famine. Only through a joint effort by UN agencies, partner governments and NGOs will the World Food Programme be able to save lives and ensure people in this part of Madagascar have better futures. 

Ending preventable child deaths will never be achieved if we ignore the role prolonged malnutrition plays in the development of a child and their future quality of life. However, the British government is set to spend 80% less on helping feed children in poorer nations than before the pandemic. This amounts to less than £26 million, a drop from £122 in 2019. Despite UN agencies calling for urgent action to avert famine in 20 countries including Yemen, South Sudan and northern Nigeria, the cuts will leave tens of thousands of children hungry and at risk of starvation. The UK is not recognising the scale of the problem, and the strength of its hand in the response. Aid and development is not a tap that can be turned off and on. The impact on the most marginalised communities around the world will be immediate, long-lasting and not quickly repaired. These cuts will cost lives. 

This all makes for grim reading. Nutrition issues are in danger of being carelessly disregarded, but there are solutions to this deeply-rooted problem that, if implemented, will make a critical difference to the futures of the world’s hungry. Education is key to fighting hunger. 

Education plays a vital role in breaking the cycles of poverty and hunger by eliminating social disparities, creating opportunities for people, and empowering entire communities. If a child arrives at school hungry, teachers say they lose one hour of learning time a day. If a child arrived at school hungry once a week they would lose 8.4 weeks of learning time (70% of a term) over the whole of their primary school life. But for millions, education is inaccessible. 20 million more secondary school girls could be permanently out of school due to the pandemic. When children receive education and women have access to healthcare and technology, they have the ability to build a better future for themselves and their communities. Bridging the gaps in access to these essential resources is a sustainable and critical step towards ending hunger and poverty. A child’s potential earnings increase by 8% with each individual year of school, that’s 50% over 6 years. 

Women who have suffered from malnutrition when they were children are more likely to give birth to malnourished babies, exacerbating the problem. It is therefore essential to help mothers and provide them with information and training. Ignorance stands in the way of development. 

Further solutions, including policies to reduce the cost of nutritious foods and ensure affordability of healthy diets, should start with reorientation of agricultural priorities towards more nutrition-sensitive food and agricultural production. We need policy decisions and investments to raise productivity, encourage diversification in food production and ensure that nutritious foods are made abundantly available. Policies aimed at reducing poverty and income inequality, while enhancing employment and income-generating activities, are key to raising people’s incomes and hence the affordability of healthy diets. 

Today, on World Hunger Day 2021, let’s celebrate these solutions to hunger and poverty and recognise that urgent action is needed, especially for the poorest in society, who face the greatest challenges. Countries must identify and implement critical policy and investment changes that will transform their current food systems to ensure everybody can afford healthy diets.

Everyone deserves to eat. The end of hunger and poverty is possible when people have the necessary tools and resources and when solutions are community-led by and for the people living in conditions of chronic hunger. Hunger is an entirely preventable pandemic and together we have the power to end it in our generation. 

Clean water changes everything; it’s a stepping-stone to development.

By Ioasia Radvan

Think about what your life would be like without access to clean water. 

We’re facing a global water crisis. Water is a human right. Yet every minute a newborn dies from infection caused by lack of safe water and an unclean environment. 

1 in 10 people worldwide do not have access to clean water (WHO, 2019).

Sustainable Development Goal target 6.1 calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030. Without a thorough understanding of water’s true value, and a plan to address the many complex challenges faced by so many as a result of a lack of access to safe water, we will be unable to secure this critical resource. 

The value of water is varied. It plays a part in almost every aspect of life: households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the environment. It’s value is immense. But a lack of access to clean water has catastrophic impacts on the livelihoods of so many. 

Globally, at least 2 billion people use drinking water contaminated with faeces (WHO, 2019). 

This contaminated water transmits diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Lack of adequate water and sanitation services exposes individuals to preventable health risks. Handwashing may not be a priority in places where water is scarce. This increases the likelihood of contracting diarrhoea and other diseases. The deaths of 297,000 children under 5 years could be avoided each year if these risk factors were addressed. 

Every $1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of $4 in increased productivity (WHO, 2012).

Improved water and sanitation boosts economic growth and contributes to poverty reduction. 206 million people have access to limited water services requiring a round trip of more than 30 minutes. Making safe water more accessible means that people can be productive in other ways. Safer water also reduces the likelihood of contracting debilitating diseases and enables people to remain economically productive. Children are at an increased risk of water-related diseases. Access to safe water results in better health and thus better school attendance. This in turn has positive long-term impacts on the lives of children globally. 

By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas (WHO, 2019).

Water availability will become more unreliable with increased climate variability. This will exasperate the situation in water-stressed regions.  Water related disasters will become more frequent and relentless. Food security, human health, urban and rural settlements, energy production, industrial development, economic growth, and thriving ecosystems are all water-dependent and thus vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This puts obtaining SDG 6 and most of the others at risk. We must adapt to climate change to alleviate this crisis. 

If everyone, everywhere had clean water, the number of diarrhoeal deaths would be cut by a third (Tropical Medicine and International Health, 2014). 

Slowly, progress is being made. It’s not possible to tackle the water crisis without decent toilets and good hygiene. Without decent toilets, water sources can become contaminated. And without clean water, we can’t have good hygiene practices that stop the spread of disease. Since 2000, 2.1 billion people have gained access to decent toilets. The World Bank says promoting good hygiene is one of the most cost effective health interventions (Disease Control Priorities, 2016). As the international authority on public health and water quality, WHO leads global efforts to prevent transmission of waterborne disease, advising governments on the development of health-based targets and regulations.

There’s nothing more essential to life on earth than water. We must recognise the importance of addressing the global water crisis. Access to clean water changes everything; it’s a stepping-stone to development.

Advocacy 101

Written By: Ellena Mouzouris

When people say they are an advocate or are interested in advocacy, often they are met with questions as to what exactly advocacy is. The literal definition of the term advocacy is ‘a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy’. For us, as members of the RESULTS grassroots network, this definition is very fitting. As part of RESULTS UK, we are a national network of individuals who support international development and aid. In practice, this is often in the form of campaigning for funding replenishment to supplement progress towards the SDG’s as well as having open discussions within the network that provides us with the knowledge and skillset that can influence parliamentarians to support positive aid contributions.
Advocates do not need to have a particular ‘image’ so-to-speak. Within the network, there is diversity in age, culture, ethnicity and political background. To be an advocate all you need is a genuine interest in the cause you are working towards and the will to help educate others.
At the time of writing, I have been a RESULTS advocate for just over a year. A year that began with normality which later led to a pandemic, lockdowns, and all kinds of madness. To follow on from our blog post Advocacy in the Era of COVID-19?, I wanted to compile a small toolkit of tips for new advocates or existing advocates to share!

Key things to Remember!
There is two pieces of advice I received when I first joined RESULTS that have stuck with me:
1. Your MPs work for you!
Sometimes, as an advocate or campaigner of any cause, it can feel like you are talking to a brick wall and as if your voice is not being heard. However, your MP is obliged to listen to your concerns and pass them on if you ask them to. If you initially receive a response that is negative be sure to follow-up with further facts and statistics and remind them that this is important to you, as their constituent. In your follow-up, it can be useful to request a phone-call or meeting as it is easier to engage in a proper discourse through an informal conversation.
2. Your MPs are people too!
This one may seem obvious but it often becomes my mantra in direct conversations with parliamentarians. The nerves you feel before a meeting or phone call are probably shared by your MP. They are going into these meeting to discuss important topics in which they have to adhere to their party guidelines, respect your argument and formulate a diplomatic response to decide how they will action what you are asking for. Therefore, building up a rapport with your MP can really help to break the ice and make everyone feel more comfortable and remember – it isn’t a business pitch, you don’t have to speak perfectly and formally to get your point across.

Play to your strengths!
Some people love writing so establishing a blog or facebook page to really get writing in-depth of key issues your group is passionate about can be a real asset. This being said, if someone hates writing at length but loves graphics and is good with captions then taking the lead on social media channels may be an area of interest for them. Whilst as a group our focus is upon letter writing and meetings, smaller acts of advocacy can easily be taken based on how much spare time you have. Similarly, if you or a fellow member is great at gathering people together for fundraisers (albeit over Zoom at the moment) then buddy-up with those also interested to help share information and develop further support for RESULTS. Referring to the RESULTS calendar of key events and days can assist in planning out who wants to take the lead on specific projects throughout the year. We are all not perfect at everything but have passions in different areas. The best part of being in an advocacy group is the diversity of backgrounds that allow each member to bring different skills.

Time!
Advocacy is voluntary and whilst being an advocate is something we should all take pride in, it does not have to be at the forefront of our lives all of the time. If your studies/workload are accumulating, communicate to your group that you may not be able to attend monthly meetings or may not be able to post on behalf of the group regularly that month. Group leaders can then help to delegate and make notes so that you don’t miss out. This tip goes beyond advocacy to the rest of our personal and work lives too, you must put yourself first and take a break from the screen or go for a walk if your brain and body need it. You are always your own priority and if you need a break your group will be ready and waiting to welcome you back when you have the capacity to engage. After all, advocacy should be interesting and ignite a passion for the cause but it can also work to fit around your life too. If you complete the action at the end of the month rather than the beginning or only manage one post for the group that month, you have still made an impact!

Look beyond the constituencies core of your group! Are there neighbouring counties that don’t have a RESULTS group? Expanding your reach not only gives your group an opportunity to foster new ideas from new people but also means you can access more MPs who may not be familiar with RESULTS’ work and ask for their support in maximising UK Aid. A great way to do this is by contacting Ruthie or Dela (at join@results.org.uk) about local universities to recruit students who may have their own networks of passionate people. Students also have the advantage of having the option of being registered to vote at multiple addresses. Therefore, by choosing to focus on the MP that may not be the one your group normally focuses on we can open up these conversations and develop even more relationships.

Stay up to date with policy and manifesto claims!
A great way to appeal directly to your MP is to hold them to policy claims. For example, the 2019 Conservative manifesto shows a clear focus on SDG4 and getting girls into education. Therefore, when writing to MPs such as Dominic Raab, as we are this month, it shows your clear intention to hold them accountable. Alternatively, when writing to non-Conservative parliamentarians, remind them of their need to hold the government accountable to these claims. If you have time to have a look through your MPs tweets and claims on their website you have a point of reference to back up your request. If your group has shared documents or a group chat be sure to share key quotes as they may be useful in future actions.

I hope these tips prove useful in the important actions we have lined up this year. Be sure to comment on this blog with any other tips/advice you have picked up along the way!

The Dangerous Narrative of the White Saviour Complex

Written by: Gurbir Matharu and Ellena MouzourisScreenshot 2020-09-07 at 13.48.06

Racism is not an issue of ignorance but rather an issue of power and power imbalances. The White Saviour Complex (WSC) is a power imbalance between the Western world and the African continent that needs to be disrupted. It is the embodiment of embedded white privilege and enables a false narrative that Black people are in need of white help. The complex has its foundations in British colonialism and still functions in a way that allows white people to hold coercive power over the African continent . Furthermore, the WSC perpetuates the oppression of Black people by assuming they require white Western help to function successfully socially, politically and economically, and fails to acknowledge the colonial history and damage that White people are responsible for throughout history. Although white people may think they are ‘helping’, what they often fail to acknowledge is the offense and patronising nature of their behaviour and attitudes towards Black people.  

White saviorism is also deeply embedded within our education system. For example, the novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ by Harper Lee tells the story of Atticus Finch, a white male, representing and defending a Black man, Tom Robinson. Not only does this perpetuate the WSC but it also perpetuates the false narrative of criminalising Black men. This novel has countless awards. But for what reason? With this novel being one of the core texts studied during GCSEs, its narrative is damaging to young people. Not only is the story centred around a white family, Attius and his two children Jem and Scout, it frames the Black character as helpless and in need of Atticus’ help. This novel perpetuates the idea that Black people are inferior, which is why it should not be celebrated.

Another novel that has been rightly critiqued for its narrative of Black maids structured around a white female, thus guilty of conjuring white saviorism, is The Help by Kathryn Stocket. Similar to many other novels that are centred around the Civil Rights Movement, The Help depicts the white female, who tells the stories of the Black maids, as a necessary voice for the liberation of Black people. This novel has also been widely criticised for its portrayal of the lack of danger and life-dependency Black people experienced during this era. The sheer simplification of Jim Crow damages and manipulates the harsh reality Black people went through, and incorrectly amplifies the role white people played in racism. Literature that shows white people as a saviour are historically inaccurate and are a fictional framing of the past, which ultimately causes damage to those affected. 

Initiatives have been set up by old and current students of the secondary schools of both of the authors of this post, in solidarity with many other students across the country, with the goal to decolonise our curriculum. In direct letters to headteachers, we conveyed the need for systemic racism to be addressed within their curriculum and the school itself alongside petitions with signatures from students past and present highlighting the urgency of the need for these changes. Methods to begin a dialogue for change included, but not limited to, studying BIPOC authors, history and music. This ensures that contributions made to literature by BIPOC are taught across all subjects. Thus, it avoids both direct and indirect enablement of The White Saviour complex to help expose and lift it from the modern-day colonial narrative. 

Meanwhile, the media is still actively portraying celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Ed Sheeran perpetrating the narrative, most likely without any conscious self-awareness. The idea that children in poorer areas of the world are somehow helpless and need white assistance is conveyed from a young age both in schools (as previously discussed) and through the media. Most commonly with celebrities posing alongside African children as a form of ‘accessory’ that entitles them to praise from the wider public for drawing light to the living conditions of said children. This is damaging as it not only infantilizes communities, but also creates a perception that they are helpless and only white money and initiative from the west can ‘save them’. This approach is often taken by celebrities for good press and charities when asking for donations however, it should not be considered acceptable. Alongside the long-awaited conscious awakening of society to its subconscious colonialism, these media tactics should not have a place in contemporary international development theory or practise.

Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 13.50.19

 

The organisation ‘No White Saviours’ (NWS) seeks to tackle this ideology by changing the way NGOs and individuals approach development to empower communities rather than degrade them. Much of the BLM movement has touched on this, encouraging white allies to read and research into Black voices too as they should be at the forefront of these campaigns. Simultaneously, white people must also take accountability for encouraging such a damaging narrative previously, whether that be consciously or not. One of the key members of the NWS team describes herself as a ‘white saviour in recovery’ because changing a prominent narrative in social culture begins with understanding why it is damaging and previous mistakes. This is not about seeking forgiveness for previous colonial-rooted conduct; it is about being accountable and standing up to admit that the previous approach taken by many was more damaging than it was empowering, whilst understanding how we should go about liberating BIPOC voices and fighting oppression from the ground up. 

 

RESULTS as an organisation recognises that they have not always been as pro-active in tackling this ideology as they should/could have been thus have put together a series of anti-oppression and anti-racist values, of which were heavily enforced and advertised during their international conference. RESULTS USA is leading the way on these values and thus RESULTS UK is following with an updated anti-oppression plan. Solidarity is at the heart of advocacy and thus we cannot be oppressive (on any level, whether it be conscious or unconscious) if we want to tackle poverty and the issues associated. We encourage individuals to ‘check themselves’ when discussing the topic of development and improving the infrastructure and economies of middle and low income countries to ensure that the language they are using is in no way demeaning or degrading. Steps like this are a good starting point for taking accountability and challenging the White Saviour Complex. 

 

Useful Links for More Info:

August 2020: A call to ensure UK support for global nutrition programmes.

Written by: Ioasia Ravdan

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Malnutrition is a cause of around half of all under-five deaths globally. In 2019, almost 3 million child deaths could have been prevented through improved nutrition. 144 million children under five are chronically undernourished. This will have serious consequences on their long term development. The situation could worsen significantly in 2020 due to COVID-19, with the economic and social impacts of the pandemic increasing food insecurity and hunger. Efforts to prevent and treat malnutrition are more important than ever. 

Investing in nutrition is critical in ending preventable child deaths, as well as strengthening global health and pandemic preparedness. In 2013, the UK hosted the first ever Nutrition for Growth Summit and galvanised international action to tackle malnutrition. This raised $23 billion over 7 years for nutrition programmes. Since 2015, 50.6 million women and girls have been reached through the UK’s nutrition programmes alone. But the money pledged in 2013 runs out at the end of 2020, and the world is still a long way from meeting global nutrition targets, even without the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unless new money is available in the next few months, nutrition programmes could have to be cut just when they are needed most. The UK government must therefore work with other leading donors and pledge new funding for nutrition programmes. At a time when Britain faces an economic downturn and our oversees aid budget will be reduced, it is vital that investments in nutrition are continued.

The UK can play a critical role in galvanising the international community ahead of the Nutrition for Growth Summit, hosted by Japan, which is now due to take place in December 2021. An early signal of UK support will demonstrate our leadership, help ensure a successful summit, and ensure that funding for nutrition doesn’t nose-dive after 2020. 

With the shortcomings of our current food, health and economic systems so nakedly on show, the COVID-19 crisis has given unexpected clarity on what the N4G agenda must address. If progress is to continue, it is vital that the UK once again takes the lead by pledging funds to at least the same level as has been the case since 2013 for the period 2021-2025. 

This month at RESULTS UK, we have been writing to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Secretary of State for International Development and Dominic Rabb, Foreign Secretary, who will shortly be taking over responsibility for the UK’s aid spending, urging them to make a financial pledge to support nutrition programmes post-2020, to maintain the current level of resourcing over the next 5 years. 

The 2020 Covidarity Festival

Written By: Ellena Mouzouris

We were lucky enough to be a part of the 2020 Covidarity Festival, organised to showcase the solidarity and creativity of the people of Brighton and give hope for a better post-COVID world. As part of our contribution, we put together a video discussing the importance of strengthening global health systems and our recent meetings with Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle and the support they have provided for us. After the video, the floor was opened up for conversations regarding what was discussed which gave valuable insight into other peoples experiences with advocacy and pioneering for social change. 

A key theme that arose from the discussion was around lobbying and the feeling that sometimes your voice is not being heard. With letters, and less personal communications (as has been most common due to COVID restrictions) there is a risk of reduced response. However, even if you are not met with the opportunity to have face-to-face calls to discuss specific issues it does not mean that your efforts are lost. Ensure your letters/e-mails are as concise and yet informative as possible with a sense of urgency. If over time, you do not receive a response then be sure to follow up, MPs often get many letters so be confident in seeking a follow up so that the issues are not overlooked. One of the most important things that we have learned, that we discussed, is to remember: not only do MPs work for you, but they are human too so building up rapport and frequent communications will be greatly beneficial to your cause. Perseverance is vital, and also admirable, it helps to reinforce the idea that your cause is worth the attention you are calling for. 

A great benefit of being a RESULTS advocate is that we receive training sessions throughout the year and are lucky enough to have monthly conference calls with keynote speakers. This keeps us updated on other campaigners efforts, for inspiration, and provides many ‘oh, I hadn’t thought of that!’ moments through hearing different perspectives/experiences of the speakers, often from all around the world. As we discuss in the video, (linked below) now, more than ever, we need to combat the pandemic of misinformation. This starts at the base level of communicating with friends and colleagues and spans all the way up the international news. Disparaging false information, even on a small scale, is vital to provide our peers with the knowledge toolkit to be aware of the ongoing Covid-19 situation and the confidence to stay safe themselves and help others. All of these smaller efforts add up and can create real social change through solidarity, which was a key theme of the festival itself. 

The festival also featured many other great artists and organisations who we are excited to collaborate with in the future (stay tuned!) as it reminded us, now more than ever, mutual aid and solidarity through collaboration is an incredible tool for change. It was amazing to have a feel for the sense of community that the people of Brighton (…and beyond) have and we are hopeful that this will continue far into the future.

Be sure to watch our video below and also check out the Covidarity Youtube channel and website for many more inspiring talks and pieces of art, expressed through a variety of mediums!

The Covidarity Festival: covidarityfestival.com

Watch our video here:

The Gavi Global Vaccine Summit 2020

Written By: Ellena Mouzouris

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a vital organisation that works alongside donor companies such as UKAID, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The World Bank, to name but a few, to provide life-saving vaccines in countries with weak healthcare systems.  Much of Gavi’s efforts are focused upon SDG3: Ending all preventable deaths by 2030,  working to mobilise donations from their donors by lowering the costs of life-saving vaccines and use big data processes to open up access to more remote, lower-income countries. So far, Gavi has already protected 760 million people against 18 of the worlds deadliest diseases. Right now, in the midst of another global pandemic, the health of our loved ones is a priority for most thus, it is imperative for us to come together as a global community and provide the necessary support for countries that do not have strong, existing healthcare networks. With the work of Gavi, the total number of lives saved is expected to exceed 7 million – of which will reap the economic benefits of $1billion USD by 2025 – arguably, a remarkable figure.

Source: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

The global vaccine summit is a conference that invites the 52 donor countries to make the pledges that fund Gavi, this year it was hosted right here, in London by PM Boris Johnson – online, of course! The image to the right, from the conference, provides a visualisation as to just how many world leaders were involved – a true sense of solidarity was evident. Without their pledges, Gavi would be unable to make anywhere near the amount of progress is has done and continues to do. Earlier in the year, many advocates of RESULTS UK partnered with ONE to lobby in parliament to encourage MPs to write to PM Boris Johnson to continue to provide the UK’s contribution. We were overwhelmed with the positive response we received from MPs, especially Caroline Lucas, of whom understood and encouraged the notion of supporting global health systems and protecting the most vulnerable to disease around the world. Read Hugh’s post about the day on the RESULTS UK blog here.

Since Gavis inception in 2000, the UK has been the biggest donor country, investing £4billion GBP so far. Thus, the increase of a further £1.65billion GBP is a great success for us at RESULTS as well as for Gavi as, in the words of Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, ‘The question is not whether we can afford to reach every child, it is whether we can afford not to do so’. Furthermore, the UK has set up a successful matching contribution programme. This sees 1:1 contributions of £25million GBP from the UK government mirroring contributions from private investors, such as Mastercard. Mastercard specifically have also aided in the implementation of new technologies that are able to improve the processing of vaccine data to improve the effective expansion of Gavi funded vaccines. This is a development that will be undoubtably invaluable to Gavi.

Bill and Melinda Gates have been at the heart of Gavi from its very inception thus, Bill provided some of the closing remarks for the summit. He made the poignant point that ‘if Gavi didn’t exist before, we would have to make it now’. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 60 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty, most significant increase in poverty since 1998. This will be exarcebated by a rise in

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Source: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

misinformation being spread around some of the most vulnerable countries, regarding vaccinating children. Over 13 million people have already missed out on the vaccines that will protect them against diseases such as TB and Malaria as a result of the ongoing pandemic creating public fear to attend health clinics. Furthermore, as TB is a respiratory disease, contraction of the disease only increases an individuals chance of having the most detrimental symptoms of COVID-19. Consequentially, Gavi is leading innovations in COVAX AMC, a clinic-based approach that can pool resources to spread more accurate information whilst offering COVID-19 vaccines at a minimised production cost to stop the spread in more remote areas. Once these vaccines are available, the COVAX AMC will be able to utilise the existing GAVI framework for outreach. the impacts of which will be life-changing as well as life-saving for so many communities around the world. 

The summit aimed to raise funds of $7.4billion USD but managed to far exceed this with a total of $8.8billion – an incredible feat. We are overwhelmingly grateful to the UK government to their support, as well as the other donor countries/organisations around the world. 

 


 

Links for More Info:

For more info about the UK’s contribution: https://icai.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/Gavi-ICAI-Information-Note.pdf

To watch the summit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zcoz_c8dYc

Gavi’s Website:

https://www.gavi.org/our-alliance/about

Gavi’s Post about the summit: 

https://www.gavi.org/news/media-room/world-leaders-make-historic-commitments-provide-equal-access-vaccines-all

The Global Threat of COVID-19

Written By: Ioasia Radvan

An international response to the COVID-19 crisis is important, and the fight against this pandemic must be part of our larger goal to eradicate poverty and disease.

The threat to humanity posed by COVID-19 demands a courageous and coordinated global response. The COVID-19 virus has spread across the globe. In the UK it has already had a devastating impact and we are now seeing rises in cases in countries with far weaker health systems than our own. This is a serious worry.

Against a backdrop of severe malnutrition, high burdens of other infectious diseases, overcrowding, poor access to clean water and sanitation, and with education for most children and much economic activity suspended around the world, COVID-19 creates a huge risk for millions of people.

As we all know too well, COVID-19 is a deadly disease, but it is also having a disastrous effect on other global health issues. The pandemic is preventing the diagnosis and treatment of other serious diseases, many of which have life threatening consequences, while also increasing vulnerability to the serious complications of COVID-19.

We must ensure that resources are not diverted away from other equally important causes. We must ensure the continuation of vaccination and malnutrition programmes, and life-saving treatments for diseases like Tuberculosis (TB). TB is the top infectious killer worldwide, claiming approximately 4400 lives per day. Currently, only around 6 million of the 10 million people who contract TB each year are ‘found’ and this figure is expected to fall further as the pandemic persists.

Additionally, losing focus on nutrition during the pandemic could prove more deadly than the disease itself, with an additional 5 million children’s lives potentially being put at risk. In Burkina Faso, the number of food-insecure people is set to triple to 2.1 million. Malnutrition weakens immune systems and increases the likelihood of people falling ill, being unable to recover and dying as a result.

Overcoming the current crisis must not come at the expense of the most vulnerable. International collaboration is vital to beat it. Alongside ensuring the safety of people within our own borders, the UK must also seize this opportunity to support the global COVID-19 response, investing in strengthening health systems and building collective resilience to disease outbreaks. We must not miss this vital opportunity to work together to ensure that health for all is a cornerstone of our resilience to pandemics and the fight against poverty, with a particular focus on the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised.