World Vision fundraises amid US government cuts

At a time when foreign aid continues to be threatened by US government cuts and sequestration, World Vision is taking a bold step in the push to make life better for the world's next generation.

The Christian development organisation hopes to raise $500 million by the end of 2015 to impact 10 million people in poverty around the world through its For Every Child fundraising campaign.

The focus will be on key areas of development like clean water; fighting against diseases like malaria; providing loans so families can get a hand out of poverty; protecting children from trafficking; and support and partnering with local churches.

"This is the most far-reaching endeavour in World Vision's history. Our goals are ambitious and the impact we hope to make would transform the lives of a generation of children," said World Vision President Richard Stearns.

"This is not a fundraising campaign but a rescue mission for the children we help and also for the donors who step up to say this is worth the fight."

Under a sequestration cut of five percent, non-profit organisations estimate there will be 1.1 million fewer mosquito nets distributed, resulting in approximately 3,000 more malaria deaths. A cut of that size also means 303,000 fewer people will have access to clean water and improved sanitation, and two million fewer people will have either reduced access to food aid or be cut off altogether.

Like many organisations working with the poor, World Vision is concerned about what the government cuts will mean in terms of some of the most vulnerable around the world not getting the help they need.

"We know from past experience that when government funding is cut, it can have an impact on private donations because we aren't able to get the initial seed money to get projects off the ground and attract investors," said Robert Zachritz, Senior Director for Advocacy and Government Relations at World Vision.

"This initiative couldn't have come at a more important time to make sure we don't lose some of the major progress we've made in fighting childhood preventable disease."

The Millennium Development Goals have shown that a concerted push toward improvement in key areas can reduce unnecessary deaths and save lives.

The UNICEF/WHO estimates globally, the number of deaths of children under five years of age fell from 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011. However, we're now less than 1,000 days away from the end of MDGs and still there is much work to be done.

While the world has met the MDG in safe drinking water, halving the number of people without access to clean water, World Vision is hoping to push beyond that goal and reduce the number by as much as 65 per cent over the next five years in our targeted program areas. That will mean a scaling up.

In the past 25 years, World Vision has brought clean water to 11 million people in Africa. The organisation is hoping to expand that number by six million just in the next five years which would quadruple the number of beneficiaries we are able to reach per year.

"We've taken a hard look at the needs that exist today. They are great, but we refuse to believe that poverty is too big, too expensive, or too difficult to overcome, because for the millions of children living in poverty, the stakes couldn't be higher," Stearns said.