WHAT ARE THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS?
In 2015, world leaders from all 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A defining principle “is a shared promise by every country to work together to secure the rights and well-being of everyone on a healthy, thriving planet.” This plan’s bold and transformative steps seek to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path by 2030. These goals link together and balance the three areas of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequality
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life on Land
- Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
- Partnerships to achieve the Goal
HAS THERE BEEN ANY PROGRESS TOWARDS THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS?
Sadly, in anticipation of September 2023’s summit, the UN warns that ‘these promises are in peril,’ and that there needs to be a renewed commitment of solidarity and action if there’s to be any hope of the goals being realised. Progress has been too fragile and slow, exacerbated by complex world events.
The UN’s advance report states: “Under current trends, 575 million people will live in extreme poverty in 2030 – and only about one third of countries will meet the target to halve national poverty levels. Shockingly, the world is back at hunger levels not seen since 2005 – and food prices remain higher in more countries than in the period from 2015-2019.”
They go on to say that “the lack of SDG progress is universal, but it is abundantly clear that… the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are bearing the brunt of our collective failure. This is a direct result of global injustices that go back hundreds of years but are still playing out today.”
COMPASSION’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE SDGS
At Compassion, we agree that poverty is an injustice. In pursuit of our mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name, we work with local church partners in 29 UN member-state countries where our holistic child and youth development programmes equip and empower children and their families to overcome the barriers of poverty and gain access to opportunities that can transform their futures.
Our Vice President of Global Programme, Sidney Muisyo explains:
“Global poverty has increased because of [the] pandemic. This means that over 190 million more people have been pushed into economic desperation… [But] COVID-19 is not the only challenge our world has faced. Conflict, social unrest, and natural disasters continue to emerge in different regions of the world. These threaten the safety of children and families…
“We continue to support the efforts of our church partners to respond to emerging food and medical needs that have been occasioned by conflict [and other challenges]. I ask you to continue praying for these countries and communities.”
Goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 are the areas our work most closely addresses. The commitment of our staff and volunteers contributes to the realisation of these goals within their communities.
GOAL 1: NO POVERTY
This goal seeks to end extreme poverty of all kinds (those living on $2.15 per day or less) and to reduce the number of people living in poverty by half. We use the Poverty Probability Index (PPI) to help our local church partners reach the children with the most economic need.
Elevating children out of poverty requires a multi-faceted approach. Educational resources, emotional support for building resilience, nutritional and medical supplementation, vocational training, business assistance for families through finances or training… together, these provisions can equip and empower children, families and even whole communities. We strive to enable better health, increased skills and the confidence needed to take hold of opportunities and thrive.
For example, in Togo, youth aged 15-18 enrolled in a Compassion project were:
- 53% more likely to have participated in a formal technical and vocational education and training programme
- 97% more likely to have participated in a nonformal technical and vocational education and training programme
“I heard the voices of poverty telling me: you are not important,” shares Tony Beltran a Compassion Graduate who now heads up our programme in the Dominican Republic.
GOAL 2: ZERO HUNGER
The UN aims to end all forms of malnutrition, achieve food security, improve nutrition, double agricultural productivity and income of small-scale food producers, and bring resilience to agricultural practices and food production systems.
Compassion started tracking localised food security data in April 2022, and to date, an average of 93,000 additional people are becoming food insecure daily across all countries where Compassion serves. Our current long-term outlook is that if global conflicts continue steadily, then food insecurity rates will increase between five and 20 percent during the next year.
This is an area of intense need amongst the communities where our local church partners serve, and we’re so grateful to our supporters for their generosity towards our Food Crisis Appeal, which is seeking to address urgent need and provide long-term resilience. We have committed over $31 million to address food insecurity in the most-affected countries thanks to the dedicated generosity of supporters in our 12 fundraising countries.
- 1,946 of Compassion’s frontline church partners, serving 556,557 children, are located in areas where more than 30% of the population is food insecure.
- Every participant in Compassion’s programme receives an annual health check-up where they are monitored for malnutrition.
- Between July 2022 and July 2023, Compassion supported more than 1.13 million people in 13 countries through its distribution of food packs.
Find out more about how we are supporting families through the Global Food Crisis.
GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
With a focus on increasing life expectancy and reducing common child and maternal diseases, this goal promotes healthy living and well-being for all ages.
Good health and well-being are at the heart of Compassion’s vision. We value each individual as precious and made in God’s image, and we want to support every aspect of their health—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This means we’re not only looking at educational and economic empowerment, but also ensuring that the projects where children meet together are safe places to play and enjoy friendships.
We do this by starting early, supporting the health of mums and babies with our Child Survival Interventions and offering emergency health funds for those in need. We look after the nutritional needs of our participants and ensure that our projects are run by staff and volunteers who are well-trained in looking out for the holistic needs of children.
We seek to empower parents in their fundamental role as caregivers, and we work to ensure every child feels known, loved and protected thanks to the care and services offered to them through our projects.
One mother who enrolled onto our Child Survival Intervention was Adjowa in Togo. During the first seven months of her pregnancy, she didn’t have a single prenatal consultation. Unable to afford medical care she feared the worst for herself and her baby. “I thought my life was doomed, and that neither of us would survive the pregnancy because I was so undernourished.”
GOAL 4: QUALITY EDUCATION
The UN’s SDGs recognise the vital importance of bringing inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning. Education is fundamental for enabling people to overcome the barriers that poverty places in their way.
Through our child and youth development activities, we invest in the development and implementation of age-appropriate activities which support a child’s learning – these are run at our projects on Saturdays or midweek after school. We also help families overcome the barriers to accessing formal and informal training for their children, which might be by paying school fees, or for uniforms and study materials, or with additional literacy support, for example, if a child has missed a lot of school due to having to work or through ill-health.
In addition, caregivers and community members have opportunities to enrol in educational and vocational training programmes themselves, and to receive microloans to set-up or support business ventures.
To give a snapshot of the difference investment in education you can make, our programme evaluations have found that youth enrolled in a Compassion project were more likely to experience the following outcomes:
- 63% more likely to be taking computer classes in Ecuador
- 26% more likely to complete a higher level of education in Ethiopia
- 173% more likely to have all of the school supplies needed at the start of the school year in Ghana
- 49% more likely to be attending post-secondary education in Mexico
- 51% more likely to be currently attending post-secondary education in the Dominican Republic
GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
Access to safe water for drinking, and sanitation facilities, is vital for health. Most of our programme participants live in water-stressed regionsi. By enabling our local church partners to improve these circumstances, they and their communities are safer and healthier. This is why improving access to clean water and sanitation is a priority focus for all our national offices.
Eight-year-old Egodine was so excited when a borehole came to their village. “I didn’t know what it would look like but my friends and I all clapped and danced!”
Clean water projects like boreholes and wells need ongoing maintenance and have been known to fail within a few years due to lack of local ownership. However, studies show that 89% of Compassion’s sampled initiatives were still working after two years, and 79% of Compassion projects were able to repair their water projects without outside help. If problems should occur and outside help is needed, Compassion can call in specialists to fix the issues.
Compassion’s interventions are always initiated and implemented by our local church partners, ensuring a high level of local ownership so the benefit to the community will be felt for future generations.
GOAL 8: DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
The difficult reality of achieving decent work and economic growth is reflected in all countries in which we work. We strive to equip and empower our local church partners to provide young people with greater access to leadership, vocational and entrepreneurial training opportunities, preparing them for success in adulthood. Our young people receive careers guidance as they grow, helping them to consider what opportunities will be most fitting for their context and circumstances. Compassion graduates move into a diverse range of professions and vocations, from medical care to bus driving, shoe repairs to hairdressing, teaching to electrical engineering or weaving! The possibilities are endless!
Our programme evaluations have found that youth enrolled in a Compassion project were more likely to experience the following outcomes relating to work and economic self-sufficiency:
- 54% more likely to have an income-generating skill in Kenya
- 54% more likely to attend university or diploma programmes in Uganda
- 70% more likely to be currently attending a university in the Dominican Republic
- 81% more likely to attend vocational school in the Philippines
- 150% more likely to attend vocational school in Rwanda
We love to celebrate the incredible successes of our participants who embrace every opportunity given to them and who live with joy in the face of immense challenge. It is exciting to see Compassion graduates go on to become change-makers and advocates, committed to seeing positive change for future generations. The joy of watching a child progress and flourish into a confident, skilled, independent adult is the great privilege of sponsoring a child – because you get a front row seat in cheering them on throughout their journey.
“From not being expected to complete primary school, I now teach in one of the best schools in inner-city London.” Hear from graduates as they reflect on the difference sponsorship made to their lives.
SO, LET’S KEEP GOING!
In Matthew 21:22, Jesus encourages his followers with the promise that “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
As the UN calls for its global members to be even more ambitious and energetic in striving to attain their goals, will you join with us in praying for the work of our incredible local church partners who are there on the ground, dedicating themselves to bringing long-term progress for children and families within their communities?
And will you join with us by supporting our work? There are a number of ways you can give, either by sponsoring a child directly, or by supporting one our intervention initiatives. Together we can keep on supporting them as they grow in skill and confidence. Your support sparks hope in our participants for a brighter future and enables us to work towards a day when every child is released from poverty.
*Water stress refers to the quantitative or qualitative unavailability of clean water to meet demand. Approximately 12% of our projects are located in high to extremely-high water stress areas, approximately 22% are in medium-high or low-medium water stress areas, and approximately 66% of are located in low water stress areas, which nevertheless means some stress. These levels will vary depending on times of year and changing circumstances (connected to climate, social unrest, pollution etc).