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Milford Beacon
  • As teams from around the world face off in World Cup, how are their countries' poor faring?

  • As the world turns its eyes to the World Cup, some nonprofits are aiming to decrease poverty in the countries of competing football teams.
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  • The World Cup has taken the global stage as countries face off in the "pinnacle of soccer" that organizers say grabbed the attention of half the Earth's population during the last World Cup in 2010.Many nonprofit organizations are taking advantage of the popularity to draw attention to how poor families in the competing 32 countries are faring, far away from the field.Bread for the World, a global anti-hunger organization, will highlight poverty problems in competing countries on its blog as the countries play in the tournament."Poverty is still rampant in Brazil — its poor neighborhoods and favelas may not be seen during coverage of the games, but they are still there. But the country has already successfully met the first United Nations Millennium Development Goal, which is to cut poverty in half by 2030," according to the blog.While protesters in Brazil have opposed the World Cup for months because of poverty in the country, some are using soccer to do good."Soccer — or football, to most of the world — can be used as a tool for empowering young people in developing Brazil. One organization doing just that is Street Football World, which launched the Football for Development Project — a series of initiatives strengthening local Brazilian organizations promoting social change through soccer," wrote Robbie Couch for the Huffington Post."Bonding over the common interest in the sport, these initiatives hold regular meetings and look for opportunities to collaborate on projects involving youth leadership, gender equality, peace-building and health education," Couch wrote.To point fans to other developing countries in the competition, the ONE Campaign has teamed up with the GAVI Alliance, a global health partnership that works to increase access to immunization in poor countries.ONE and GAVI released a report "that analyzes the performance of each country participating in the World Cup (and a few others), highlighting their contributions to GAVI and what they need to do to step up the fight against preventable childhood deaths. It sets out a five point action plan for GAVI, donors and countries with high levels of disease that will make a huge impact on the health of the world’s children," according to ONE's website.The report states, "In 2012, an estimated 6.6 million children around the world died before reaching their fifth birthdays. Nearly all of these deaths were due to preventable causes — diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, which together kill more children each year than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined."The report reveals the successes and challenges each country faces in immunizing the poor.Take Nigeria, for example, whose team will play Iran on Monday. Only 15 percent of the country's population is vaccinated for diphtheria. Also, polio is still epidemic in Nigeria, and efforts for vaccination have met obstacles with mistrust of vaccines, the report says.Of the countries competing in the cup, GAVI donates to all that are low-income, including Nigeria, Honduras, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, and most of those countries have made strides to improve immunization rates. In Ghana, whose team will play the United States on Monday, officials rolled out two new vaccines not previously available in the last decade, and "access to immunization remains far more equitable in Ghana than in neighboring countries," the report says.
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