2010 has been a year that has seen many successes in the areas on which RESULTS campaigns. As the year draws to a close, and we look ahead to the challenges we face in 2011, we’d like to have a look back at those successes and to say thank you to our fantastic grassroots network and all the other individuals and organisations that have lent us their skills and expertise over the past 12 months.
March 24th was World TB Day and as a result of campaigning by us and a whole range of other world class organisations, the results that came out of the day were excellent. Firstly, the day received significant coverage in all the major national newspapers, websites and other channels, raising the public profile of the disease. The Financial Times included a special TB supplement, inserted into its pages, in part thanks to advocacy from RESULTS and our partners. We also witnessed statements committing to the fight against TB being issued by the leaders of all three of the UK’s major political parties, a move unheard of in previous years.
Further, 2010 saw the Department for International Development (DfID) agree funding for two excellent organisations fighting TB. Firstly £8 million pounds was pledged to Aeras, an organisation working on the development of a new TB vaccine, and £4million to the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development. The tools that we have been using the fight TB over the last decade are hopelessly out of date – for example the vaccine we currently use was invented 90 years ago and is not very effective – so this investment is a crucial step toward stopping the disease.
In June we helped to re-establish the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB (APPG). This has significantly raised the profile of TB amongst MPs and improved the number actively engaged in TB activity.
In October we hosted a week long advocacy tour on TB with TB advocates travelling to the UK from India and Malawi to engage a wide breadth of policy makers and civil society and to raise public awareness in key issues surrounding women and tuberculosis and TB-HIV co-infection. The trip took in meetings with the UK Coalition to Stop TB as well as representatives from maternal health organisations, MPs and DFID and successfully established a connection with both the Malawi and the Indian High Commission. A very strong message emerged about the importance of tackling TB and HIV along with other causes of maternal mortality, which is a key issue area for DFID going forward.
One of our major successes in 2010 came through some excellent work in conjunction with the Global Campaign for Education. In September we helped to organise an event in Parliament which saw Gary Lineker address a packed room with over 40 MPs present – an unprecedented number for an event of this type – about the importance of education for all. This led directly to the establishment in October of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group to provide support to MPs and Lords to take action in support of education for all.
The importance of an APPG cannot be underestimated as it firmly establishes education as a key priority amongst MPs and creates a mandated group to look at education collectively.
Also this year, we published a report on education and disability, highlighting the stark challenges to improving access to education for disabled people in the developing world; one third of all children who are excluded from school worldwide are estimated to have a disability. The report was titled ’DFID, disability and education: bridging the implementation gap.’
The report raised the profile of disability amongst key policy makers, leading to parliamentary questions being tabled by the Shadow Minister of State for International Development and the issue being included in the Conservative Party’s Green Paper on their international development policy.
In order to improve on the implementation of inclusive education policy in country offices, the Department for International Development (DfID) created a guidance note on disability and education in October which was used in bilateral aid reviews.
In the area of microfinance we also had some interesting successes. We re-established the APPG on microfinance following the election and were able to help encourage new MPs and Lords to join the group.
The new government has clearly stated that they plan to focus the aid programme more on wealth creation in the developing world, including the establishment of additional microfinance projects. Further, in response to a RESULTS grassroots action DfID Ministers have recently stated that they’re looking into how to support microinsurance in climate change policy. Microinsurance is a key element needed to support farmers in the developing world to be able to invest in their crops and withstand the effects of climate change, so this is a really exciting development. DfID have also launched a review into how microfinance helps the poor, a move that represents a really positive approach to appraising microfinance in the wider context of development.
There have been lots of exciting success stories amongst our grassroots this year and we want to say a massive thanks to all of you who have contributed to helping fight the fight against extreme poverty. Without you RESULTS wouldn’t be the same!
One good example of how grassroots action has really made a difference this year is our recent action on removing user fees for basic healthcare. Through our grassroots, 7 questions were asked in parliament by MPs, and numerous other MPs wrote to the Secretary of State for International Development about the issue. In response, DfID Ministers in the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat government for the first time unambiguously stated that they believe user fees are a barrier to poor people accessing healthcare and that they will support poor countries to remove them, laying out some concrete steps to do so.
The past 12 months have seen our group numbers increase by 40% from 10-14. We had an excellent national conference in March, our first for three years, which created substantial success on our ‘Lobby Day’, including productive meetings at DfID and a meeting with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which ultimately led to Bill Gates himself addressing Parliament under the banner of over 20 development-focussed APPGs. Our Executive Director, Aaron Oxley, shared the stage with Bill in what one MP described as the second best event he had been to in Parliament ever, behind only Nelson Mandela’s visit in 2005!
We also saw more letters in national newspapers under a RESULTS signature than we have for some time, and in addition our blog readership has increased by a factor of 20 times.
We also organised an excellent half marathon which saw keen RESULTS supporters raise over £7,000 to support our work.
We’d like to once again thank everyone who helped make 2010 into a very successful – perhaps even landmark – year for RESULTS. As we enter into our 25th year and Silver Jubilee in 2012, we know we still have a long way to go but we are making progress thanks to the efforts of our tireless and inspired grassroots and the strategic coordination of our staff.
Together, we have the power to end poverty.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!