5 Small Things that Have Meant Big Change for Kids
History shows that a seemingly small innovation can make a huge difference in children’s lives and that solutions don’t have to cost much or involve complicated technology. Consider these examples and find out more in the interactive The State of the World's Children 2015 report: Reimagine the future.
1. Oral rehydration salts
A little packet of salts and minerals became one of the most powerful weapons in the child survival revolution. Dehydration and acute diarrhea can take a child's life within hours, but when mixed with clean water, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) can quickly reverse the deadly loss of essential fluids. So many adults are alive today because ORS saved their lives as children.
2. A water pump designed by a self-taught Indian mechanic
After devastating water crises in India, UNICEF led the development of a locally manufactured hand pump, the India Mark II, in 1976. This durable, easy-to-maintain machine (commemorated in this stamp from the Central African Republic) has since provided fresh, clean water to millions of families and children, setting the standard for water pumps all over the world.
3. Lifesaving peanut paste
It's been called the "miracle food" for its power to bring a child back from the brink of starvation. This protein and vitamin-packed peanut paste comes ready to eat, does not need to be refrigerated or mixed with water, survives heat and cold and can be administered anywhere by anyone to help a malnourished child gain up to two pounds a week. The only thing hard to swallow is the name: ready-to-use therapeutic food or RUTF.
4. Buying power
As the world's largest buyer of vaccines—2.8 billion doses in 2013—UNICEF has the ability to buy at scale, move markets and drive down the price of children's vaccines. Small efficiencies quickly add up to lives saved. Here's one example: a projected $500 million in cost reductions on the new rotavirus vaccine will allow an additional 50 million children to be immunized against the second-biggest killer of children under five.
5. Convention on the Rights of the Child
A simple idea. Children are human beings with rights. Twenty-five years later, through the power of The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the world is a far better place for children to grow and thrive. A baby born in 2014 has a dramatically improved chance of living to see his or her fifth birthday. A child living today—girl or boy—is far more likely to go to school, far less likely to work in a factory or mine. CRC-inspired changes in laws and practices have improved the lives of children in every region of the world.