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Setting Our Sights for the Future: The Sustainable Development Goals and COCO

It’s been an exciting time for international development charities like COCO over the past month! The United Nations has produced a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to be put into practice from the start of 2016. As well as providing firm targets for governments to work towards, NGOs and charities like COCO have welcomed the new goals for being much broader and for considering the root causes of poverty and human rights issues.

From 25-27 September 2015, New York hosted the United Nations summit for the adoption of a post-2015 sustainable development agenda. This agenda includes adopting an ambitious 17 Sustainable Development Goals which the UN aims to achieve by 2030, which are set out in the image below.

The Sustainable Development Goals

‘Sustainable Development’ is an incredibly broad concept, and, for this reason, it can be difficult to know where to state in order to encourage economic, social and environmental progress. However, the UN is confident that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals can transform our world by not only building on the former Millennium Development Goals, but by stimulating “action over the next fifteen years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet”.

COCO is part of this global movement which is working towards achieving these goals and ensuring that poverty is eradicated. So how exactly is COCO helping to meet these Sustainable Development Goals?

Sustainable Development Goal 1: End Poverty in All its Forms Everywhere

Poverty is a complex concept, and it can affect many different areas of a person’s life. Here at COCO, we focus on working with local communities in remote regions of the developing world to alleviate the poverty preventing children accessing education.

COCO has lent a helping hand to many schools in the developing world, particularly in Africa. Since 2013, COCO has been working with Mercy Primary School in Mbita, Western Kenya, to further improve access to quality education for children living in poverty in remote areas.

According to Julius Nyerere, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, “Education is not a way to escape poverty – It is a way of fighting it.” Improving access to education helps to break the cycle of poverty between generations.

Brillaint Akoth, student at Mercy Primary School

Brilliant Akoth, a 12 year old in class 4 at Mercy Primary School, is an excellent example of how accessing education can broaden the horizons of a child’s life. Brilliant says that if she was not able to go to school she would spend her days helping her parents. In the future, Brilliant wants to attend university to train to be a teacher so that she is able to help other children within the community. Accessing quality education is a powerful tool; it helps children to change their lives both in the present and in the future.

Achieving access to education for some of the world’s most vulnerable children is not a simple task, and often reveals underlying problems which desperately need addressing. COCO has been adopting a holistic approach towards eradicating poverty from the very beginning. For instance, since 2006, COCO has worked to improve secondary school provision and enrolment in an impoverished rural area outside Songea in southern Tanzania, first by sponsoring students and then by building Hoja Secondary School.

“Education is not a way to escape poverty - It is a way of fighting it."<br /> Julius Nyerere, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania

Although building the school was a huge success for the local children, spending time in the area revealed underlying problems in the community that desperately needed addressing. Absenteeism due to illness was a significant problem, particularly because of the prevalence of malaria in the area. So COCO has embarked on a mission to fundraise for and eventually build a dispensary at the school to be able to proactively prevent and treat the disease, and consequently knock down another barrier to education.

Look out for future blog posts, where we explore how COCO is helping to achieve more of the Sustainable Development Goals!

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