Getting excited about the World Cup yet? Or at least very, very sick of the sound of those vuvuzela horns that seem a lot more fun to play than listen to? Well today things heat up with two titans of the game taking to the pitch: Honduras vs. Chile.
Okay, so they might not be the heavy-weights of the competition but it looks to be an exciting match none-the-less. This will be the fifth time the two teams have faced each other since 2000, with each team having won two of their previous encounters - so today’s game will see each side battling it out for national pride as much as points.
However, match scores aren’t the only interesting indicators tracked in recent years. Both Chile and Honduras have signed up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and as such have set concrete aims to improve standards of living for their citizens by 2015.
In 2009 in Honduras, boys play football in Tegucigalpa, the capital. The game is one of several activities organized for disadvantaged children by Tegucigalpa Sports and Development, a project supported by UNICEF and implemented by local NGOs. © UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1631/Giacomo Pirozzi
UNICEF supports the MDGs and has taken them on as part of its mandate. Over the course of the World Cup we’re looking at how well countries are scoring off the pitch with their progress on the MDGs.
So while Honduras and Chile battle it out for Latin American glory let’s look at how the two countries are doing at tackling MDG 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Both Honduras and Chile have committed to halving the percentage of people living on less than £1 a day between 1990 and 2015, as part of MDG 1, which also includes pledges to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all. Chile has scored early, reducing poverty rates from 2.2 per cent in 2000 to 1.1 per cent in 2006, already smashing their 2015 target of 1.8 per cent.
Honduras has also done well to reduce the number of people living on less than $1 a day from 24.6 per cent in 1999 to 14.9 per cent in 2003 however they still have a long way to go to meet their 2015 target of 12.7 per cent.
While poverty is still a serious problem for a large percentage of the Honduran population UNICEF is harnessing the power of football to ensure those living in poverty are supported and protected.
Fútbol Para la Vida (Football for life) was started in 2002 by ex-footballer Héctor Zelaya, (a man well acquainted with the World Cup having played for Honduras in 1982). The youth league engages children living in the poorest areas of the country, encouraging sport as an alternative to drugs and violent crime. It has improved the lives of more than 25,000 children over the past 8 years.
While steps have been made to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger worldwide, it’s not all over yet. The global economic crisis means that some 55 to 90 million more people will live in extreme poverty than had been predicted before the downturn. Similarly, recent increases in food prices mean that a further 1 billion people worldwide will go hungry, while another 2 billion will be undernourished.
UNICEF is working to combat the devastating effects of poverty and hunger suffered by billions around the world by supporting good nutrition, assisting in water and sanitation improvement, working to get more girls to school, amongst other things.
From next week, we will also be calling on David Cameron to attend the MDG summit in New York this September to ensure the UK Government helps achieve the goals and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 and create a fairer future for children around the world.
Maeve McClenaghan is Media Relations Assistant at UNICEF UK.