Global Day for Child Survival in Man

Since mid September we were busy with the preparation of the Global Day for Child Survival, a day organised by Save the Children around the world to raise public awareness to the need for health and nutrition for all children. Especially in Côte d’Ivoire, the situation is really urgent. Some shocking numbers. Out of 9 children, one dies before its fifth birthday. For the northern part of the country, even one in five children does not reach its fifth birthday! Main causes are malaria, malnutrition, respiratory infections and diarrhea, with poverty as important driver (about 63% of the population lives in poverty). Only 50.5% of the children (39.4 and 37.4% respectively for the western and northern region) are completely vaccinated according to the UMV program.

In Côte d’Ivoire, this day was organised on 23 October in Man by the Health & Nutrition team, together with the Ministry of Solidarity, Family, Women and Child, and a number of organisations who work with children. The original idea was that young children, between 11 and 13 year, would run a marathon in distances of 200 m, as a relay race. But after a lot of discussion, and due to the high temperatures and the limited space, we decided to decrease the distance to 2.88 km, in rounds of 120 m. Most important was finally the message which had to be sent to the authorities.

On the big day, the preparations started already very early. With some stressy moments, because the 400 T-shirts for the children were only finalized the night before and still had to be distributed. Around 8h30, more than 1100 enthusiastic children were present, eagerly waiting for the races. After the arrival of the authorities with fanfare music, including the Préfet de Région, the Meir of Man and the Country Director of Save the Children, the 5 participating organisations walked in front of the public in a colourful defile. Then the races could start.

Banner announcing the Global Day of Child Survival in Man

Defile of one of the participating organisations

Defile of one of the participating organisations

Fanfare playing when authorities arrive

Save The Children country director with the Préfet de Région

With a lot of singing, dancing and shouting of the public, 5 teams of 8 children of respectively 11, 12 and 13 years old ran with an advocacy message to invest more in children’s health and nutrition.

11-year old participant

11-year old children ready to start the race

Go!

Race of children of 12 year old

Race of children of 13 year old

After an intermezzo of a local dance group, three children read the messages to increase investments in children’s health and nutrition in front of the authorities. Quite an emotional moment! Afterwards, the three winning teams each received a cup, and the authorities delivered their speeches.

Reading of the advocacy messages in front of the authorities

The children representing the winning team with authorities

A proud sports teacher

Speech of the Préfet de Région

Watching

Finally, the event was a success. More than 1000 children had a fantastic day, running or supporting their teams, and a lot of authorities were present. There was quite some press coverage of the event. We even reached the national television (RTI-Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivorienne) news editions!