MOSCOW, Russia — In January 2015, world leaders of the U.N. Member States created 17 Sustainable Development Goals intended to bring peace and prosperity, protect the planet and end poverty on a global scale. These goals, which more than 170 countries have implemented, provide a blueprint for global partnerships. They serve as a united call to action to promote a sustainable future for all. As countries are working towards achieving these goals by 2030, a Sustainable Development Report shows Russia is on the track to maintaining SDG achievement for goal one, which is to eradicate poverty in all forms. SOS Children’s Villages International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support for vulnerable families and children in Russia, is contributing to this goal.
Poverty in Russia
About 19.9 million Russians are still living below the poverty line in 2020 with a monthly income of 10,890 rubles, or $154 dollars. Several reasons account for this high poverty rate. First, the unequal distribution of wealth has affected Russian society for decades. Rural regions are often the poorest while urban regions are the richest. The fact that not all districts in rural areas of Russia have access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities has contributed to this division. Additionally, government officials also primarily implement modernization efforts in urban areas.
The second factor that accounts for the high poverty rate in Russia is increasing food prices. Significant Russian staples, such as sugar, buckwheat, tomatoes and garlic, have risen in price by a third. One reason behind this development is because the rise in oil prices in Russia’s stock market depreciated the ruble. Plus, the ruble has fallen in value further due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the Western embargo placed by Russians in 2014 is causing a rise in food prices. The embargo was a response to sanctions by Western countries. However, this embargo has made it hard for Russians to obtain certain staple needs, which has caused a rise in prices.
A third factor that accounts for the high poverty rate is the increasing number of Russian orphanages. More than 600,000 children in Russia do not have parental care. Since parents in Russia have fewer job opportunities, those who are unable to provide for their children abandon them. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty as the orphanages are typically overcrowded and lack access to basic sanitation facilities.
Initiatives to Protect Children
In order to address Sustainable Development Goal One, SOS Children’s Villages has taken several significant initiatives to support vulnerable families and children. Its first initiative is strengthening families who have experienced hardship and crisis. It does this by coaching parents in household management skills, providing family counseling services, training parents to earn an income at home and making sure that vulnerable families have access to healthcare and education.
The next initiative it has taken is safeguarding children who are suffering from abuse at home. SOS Children’s Villages works with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect children from vulnerable families. The Child Protection Policy that the nonprofit put in place focuses on four key action areas: awareness of signs of abuse, prevention of abuse, reporting abuse and responding to abuse.
Similarly, another initiative protects vulnerable children during humanitarian emergencies. The organization created emergency response teams and networked with other organizations to provide quality care. To prevent family separation during emergencies, SOS Children’s Villages International creates safe spaces. It provides food, shelter, clothing and water at the safe spaces depending on the need.
Focusing on Children’s Futures
SOS Children’s Villages’ fourth initiative is advocating for children’s rights, promoting sustainable futures and encouraging youth participation. This nonprofit ensures that children’s opinions are taken into consideration when decisions are made on their behalf. It also makes sure to give youth the opportunity to speak for their communities.
The fifth initiative involves ensuring that children from vulnerable families have access to education and employment opportunities in Russia. SOS uses a holistic approach to child-centered education by addressing children’s individual needs and creating inclusive learning environments.
Using these initiatives, SOS Children’s Villages in Russia is working towards ending the plight of vulnerable families and creating healthy communities around the country.
– Sudiksha Kochi