After six years of successfully offering 41 Impact Awards in countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia/Pacific (not including the 2013 Award recipients, who will be announced in December) Stars Foundation has now opened the 2014 Awards to organisations across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
The Stars Impact Awards recognise and reward effective, well-managed local organisations working to improve child health, education, protection and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) across the globe. Each Award comprises:
- Up to US$100,000 in unrestricted funding (ie it can be spent on anything – as long as it’s charitable of course!)
- Up to US$20,000 to build the organisation’s capacity
- Media training and PR opportunities
Stars’ funding model is based on the importance of responding to the local needs in each community and is guided by UNICEF’s list of countries’ under-five mortality rates. In expanding into LAC, Stars has now reached its target of making the Impact Awards available to organisations in the 100 countries in which under-five mortality is most prevalent. But it’s not all about the targets…
Why is funding being withdrawn from LAC?
In order to spread the word about Stars’ expansion into LAC, I have been talking to several people who work in the sector, several of whom have pointed out an interesting trend towards a gradual withdrawal of UK-based funding from the region.
Perhaps this is due to the region’s increasing stability: after all, of the 48 Least Developed Countries only one (Haiti) can be found in LAC. Some people will therefore argue that aid should be focused on sub-Saharan Africa, which contains 33 of these LDCs. Others may believe that the increase in South-South cooperation will take care of any regional issues.
A few facts to straighten things out
As for me, I am unsure of the reasons behind this trend; I can only speculate. But we must remember that data relating to the region’s development and poverty are skewed by the wealth of its minority.
- LAC is home to the highest levels of inequality in the world, with approximately 80 million people in the region still live in extreme poverty, and an additional 40% at risk of the same fate.
- LAC remains one of the most insecure in the world, with a homicide rate of in excess of 100,000 people per year.
- San Pedro Sula for example, Honduras’ second city, has recently topped the list of the world’s most violent places, with 2012 seeing an average of 20 murders a day.
- LAC contains over 50 million street children.
- There are 14 million child workers in the region.
- The region witnesses 23,000 maternal deaths per year.
- There is a serious lack of women’s and indigenous rights.
- For young people in Brazil, the homicide rate has increased 346 per cent in the past 3 decades to 13.8 per 100,000 for those under 19 years of age.
I hardly dare to imagine the utter lack of hope for a young person in Brazil: why would a young person concentrate on their education if they don’t think they’ll ever see their 19th birthday?
Why is Stars Foundation moving into LAC?
There is so much to be done. But abundant corruption and difficult political situations do not create an environment conducive to implementing the necessary improvements.
I do not believe that Latin America and the Caribbean should be neglected in funding and development agenda; nor do I believe in the sole panacea of south-south governmental cooperation. I do believe, however, that these issues can be tackled at a local level by well-managed organisations that have been given the flexibility to decide how to respond to the needs of children in their care.
And in my opinion, the needs of children in Latin America and the Caribbean are very clear.
So if you know of any local non-profits working with children in the LAC region, please do point them towards Stars Foundation’s website.
And if you could tell them to ensure they’re eligible before applying, that’d be even better!
The application process for the 2014 Awards is already open; the deadline is 1pm GMT on Wednesday 8 January 2014.
Sarah Johnstone is programme officer for Latin America-Caribbean at Stars Foundation.