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Annual Report 21: Pacific & International Programs in 2021

28 June 2022, Research and Reports

Promoting resilience across the Pacific 

International Programs: Pacific Cash Assistance Project 

After a crisis, cash assistance is proving to be an excellent way to help local communities get back on their feet. Families know what they need to recover, and cash is fast, safe and low cost to deliver. Most importantly, it gives people in crisis dignity and the choice to buy what they need most. In the Pacific region, Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) is being pioneered by Save the Children to support people affected by disasters and conflicts in ways that maintain human dignity, provide access to food and shelter, help rebuild and protect livelihoods, and keep local markets and economies functioning.    

In Fiji, CVA is being used as a response to severe financial hardship inflicted by the pandemic. Many areas of Fiji underwent vulnerability assessments to determine their need for assistance. This data allowed Save the Children to reach families in the most urgent need and develop a program in partnership with local councils to ensure those needs were met.  

2021 saw the largest-ever cash-based humanitarian assistance program to be implemented in the region. A total of 39,000 households — 20% of the Fijian population — received life-saving cash transfers of 100 Fijian Dollars (FJD) per month over four months. This helped families afford remote learning materials, home necessities, meals and essential bills.  

Cash and Voucher Assistance
Cash and Voucher Assistance improved children’s food security and access to remote learning materials. 
Photo: from video

The money I received has helped us a lot, [the] same day I went to pay our bill and bought some food. Then we went to a second-hand shop and bought some clothes for the kids.

One of our recipient

Early studies from the first phase of the project saw more than 83% of recipients report that CVA increased their children’s food security. The money spent in communities is helping children across the country. CVA is also being trialled across Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.  

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Improving food availability and nutrition in the Solomon Islands 

Save the Children’s Food and Livelihood project

Florence is a mother of three young children. They live together in a coastal village on a remote island in the Western province of the Solomon Islands.
 
Like many people in her community, Florence feeds her family from the land. “Most days I go fishing out on the reef in front of the bay. I also work in my garden when I am not fishing,” Florence says. “People from my community mostly sell fish and food crops at the local market or at Gizo market to earn an income. Access to fresh water is a problem in our community. We rely mostly on rainwater for drinking and cooking.” 


Through the provision of vegetable seeds and a water tank, Florence and her community have enjoyed increased food security. 
Photo: Collin Leafasia/Save the Children Solomon Islands

Florence says that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a reduction in cash flow for her and a lot of people in her community are finding it difficult to make an income. “It is quite difficult to get materials or seeds to plant vegetables and other food crops during this time”, she says. 

In 2021 Save the Children, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, provided vegetable seeds to Florence’s community to improve food availability and nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Florence says young people played an essential role in restoring the community’s food supply during this difficult time. 

“We gathered the youth in our community, and we built a nursery where we planted the seeds. When the seeds were old enough people from the community took them and planted them in their own gardens.” Florence says.  

The project also provided a water tank so the community can always have access to fresh, clean water. “Save the Children donated a water tank to our community, and we installed it at our church. We use the tank to water our nursery,” Florence says.  

I’m very thankful to Save the Children for the seeds and water tank. Young people in the community have also participated in looking after the nursery and have learnt a lot of new skills.

Florence says, proudly showcasing the vegetables grown with seeds provided by the project.

Save the Children’s Food and Livelihood project is funded by the Australian Government through Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP).   

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Adapting to the impacts of climate change 

Developing projects for the Green Climate Fund

In 2019, Save the Children Australia became the first development NGO in the world to be accredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF will allow us to partner with countries hardest hit by climate change and apply for funding from the US$10 billion fund to help generate transformational change in the way developing countries address climate change challenges.  

In 2021 we worked with interested governments developing project ideas to scale-up community-based climate adaptation projects. During the year, six project concepts and one full proposal were formally submitted to the GCF. A number of these projects will address the intersection of climate change and health, which is an underrepresented sector for the GCF. We expect the first GCF-funded project — supporting community-based climate adaptation in Vanuatu — to begin in mid-2022. This will be followed by projects in Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, and Lao PDR.  

Futures under threat: helping children adapt to a changing climate in the Solomon Islands

In 2021 Save the Children consulted with community members throughout Solomon Islands to better understand local perspectives on the effects of climate change. 23 enumerators travelled to 66 villages to learn how communities are impacted by and adapt to rising sea levels and more variable rainfall.  


Photo L: Mary paddling her dug out canoe. 
Photo R: When it rains, children in Mary’s village can’t go to school because the rivers flood.
Collin Leafasia/Save the Children Solomon Islands 

 

Mary Adam, a mother of five from a remote island in the country’s Western province told us: “My children and the other children in the village walk to the next village to attend primary school. They must cross two rivers to get to school. When it rains, they don’t go to school because the rivers are flooded and make it impossible to cross.” 

Climate change projections tell us that flood in the Solomon Islands will get worse in time making everyday activities such as children going to school more difficult and dangerous. 

With the support of QBE and the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children is developing a large-scale project for the Green Climate Fund in the Solomon Islands. The project will work directly with over 190,000 people like Mary and her children right across the country to help them build their knowledge about climate change and act to protect themselves and future generations from the impacts of climate change. 

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Keeping Pacific kids safe online 

How we’re helping children navigate their online world 

After two years of rolling lockdowns, the internet is more important than ever in helping us stay connected with the people we love.  
  
It’s no different in the Pacific, where scores of new subscribers are logging onto social media daily to message friends and family. However, access to the internet came late for these remote island nations. Many people don’t know how to protect their privacy and stay out of harm’s way online, and children are at greatest risk.   


Children learn how to protect their privacy and avoid bullying and harassment online at a school in PNG.
Photo: Lillian Keneqa/Save the Children PNG

 

In response, Save the Children has partnered with Meta to deliver a digital literacy and safety initiative in the Pacific. The ‘I am Digital’ campaign, first launched in February 2021, has now expanded to PNG, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Vanuatu.   
  

Empowering children with e-safety skills 

With the help of a group of PNG young people, the campaign has developed learning materials to help Pasifika people stay safe on the internet. The tip sheets, jingles and videos are shared online, in-person and via the radio. They empower children and parents to have safer, more positive experiences online and safeguard themselves from abuse and exploitation.  
  
Our Child Protection Coordinator in PNG, Owen Suanga, has been visiting local schools to make sure the materials get into the hands of every last child. He says the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and students are excited to learn about how to protect themselves online.  

So much done, so much more to do 

Mia Garlick, Meta’s Regional Director for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, says the progress has been impressive. ‘It’s excellent to see the campaign’s impact. Our partnership with Save the Children is so important to building the skills of young people, parents and educators in the Pacific, across the areas of digital literacy, online safety and critical thinking,’ she says. 
  
Based on the feedback and suggestions of young people, Save the Children is working with Meta to expand on the e-safety materials already developed and reach more young people across the Pacific, both offline and online.   

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Education couldn’t wait for children in Iraq 

Save the Children’s Educational Response to COVID-19 in Iraq 

The COVID-19 pandemic closed schools and interrupted learning for children around the world. In Iraq where children's education already faced massive challenges, it was critical to keep children engaged in learning in some way. To help adapt to the pandemic, Save the Children supported 6,237 children (2,964 girls and 3,273 boys) with educational materials, early childhood development classes, remedial education, teachers training, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) and improvements to the wash facilities in schools for refugees, returnees and host community children.  

As a result, these children remained engaged with the education despite school closures, and all 107 pre-primary children are now eligible for primary education. Out of the children who were at risk of dropping out of school and had completed our remedial courses, literacy skills had improved incredibly in the provinces of Dohuk (88%) and Kirkuk (78%). Numeracy skills also rose significantly in Dohuk (86%) and Kirkuk (53%).   

Mohammed, a six-year-old boy from Syria, lives with his three sisters and parents in a refugee camp in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI). When Save the Children started implementing an online education project as part of the COVID-19 humanitarian response in 2020, Mohammed had the opportunity to access the online activities.  


Mohammed received a table and was able to access online education where he learnt how to read and write.  
Photos: Duhok Education Team / Save the Children

His mother told us that “Mohammed received a tablet and enjoyed his time e-learning...He learned how to read and write letters, his name, and to count numbers. In addition, he made new friends of his age, actively engaged with his teachers and peers.” 

I love Miss Randa* because she teaches us new things every day and encourages us to participate... When I grow up, I want to be a Doctor to treat patients and help children.

Mohammed

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Ending violence against children in Cambodia 

Protecting Children Through System Strengthening and Evidence (PraCTiSE) in Cambodia  

Violence against children is a critical issue in Cambodia which causes profound developmental challenges for children and communities alike. To address this issue, Save the Children implemented the ‘Protecting Children through System Strengthening and Evidence’ (PraCTiSE) project with the support of DFAT and local partners. This project aimed to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. It ran from August 1, 2017 until July 31, 2021 in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia.


A child peeks through the tented wall in the floating village on the Tonle Sap lake, Cambodia
Save The Children / Hanna Adcock / Emma Price 

The project sought to increase knowledge, skills and attitudes of fathers, mothers and caregivers to 
change the harmful social and gender norms which contribute to violence against children.  
The project engaged all levels of the community to contribute to this change, such as Community Social Workers, Village Volunteers and Commune Committees for Women and Children.  

Research on the impact of the project found strong results in reducing both physical and psychological violence against children; improving the relationships between caregivers and children; changing caregivers’ beliefs around using violence to raise children; and improving positive parenting practices.  

These results are embodied in the case of Louklei Serie Youth, a 10-year-old boy who used to live in an abusive family in Prey Veng Province, near the Cambodia-Vietnam border. Youth and his two siblings had become disengaged from school because their family never encouraged them to study. Youth always skipped classes and his studies were poor.  

As part of the PraCTiSE project, Youth’s mother, Ms Seyha, was invited to join a parenting group, where she learned about raising children in a positive way as well as the impacts of domestic violence. 

In reflecting on the impact of the program, Youth told us: 

After my mother joined the positive parenting group, my mother has changed her behaviour, especially the way that she communicates with our family. My mother also shares what she has learned with my father so that he too can understand how to raise us positively... I want to see all parents in this community stop blaming and punishing their children because it affects their studies. In the future, I want to be a teacher.”

Youth

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