The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today announced that the Ikea Foundation had contributed Euro 60 million to its programmes in India to improve the health, survival, education and protection of tens of millions of vulnerable children and women.
Nearly 40 per cent of India's estimated population of 1.2 billion are under the age of 18.
The Ikea Foundation
is UNICEF’s biggest corporate donor globally. Since 2002, UNICEF programmes funded by the Ikea Foundation have impacted the lives of over 74 million people living in 15 states in India, a press release from the UN agency said.
It said the expanded support announced today would enable UNICEF
to continue to assist the government of India’s efforts to improve the chances of survival, development and growth of all children.
"One grant of Euro 39.5 million will help infants and mothers to reduce mortality and malnutrition rates across 13 states. A second grant of Euro 20.7 million will enable children across 10 states to receive quality education and benefit from a government scheme that provides a safe environment for children living in difficult circumstances," it said.
Mr Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, welcomed the contribution.
“Five million infants and five million mothers in marginalized communities can receive better access to health, nutrition, water and sanitation services” he said. “And 7 million more children can stay in school and receive a quality education."
According to the release, India accounts for more than 20 per cent of the child deaths and 38 per cent of the chronically undernourished children in the world. This is largely due to a lack of access to good quality, essential health services, and insufficient nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene services for children under two and their mothers, it said.
In India, more than 80 million children drop out before completing eight years of schooling and over eight million children are out of school, the release said.
Mr Per Heggenes, Ikea Foundation CEO said: “IKEA Foundation believes all children deserve a quality education and a healthy start in life, so we are providing this significant grant of Euro 60million to UNICEF to help develop innovative models designed to improve education and access to vital health services for millions of children and their families in India.”
The contribution today brings Ikea Foundation’s total investment in UNICEF’s work in India to Euro 158 million and aims at achieving results for children by 2018, the release said.
The Foundation made its first donation in 2002 to a pioneering campaign to promote children’s rights in the carpet belt in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. In 2006, the partnership was extended to include projects to end child labour in the cotton-producing state of Andhra Pradesh. In 2008, with an aim to promote child rights, child survival, growth and development, the partnership expanded across 15 states of the country where more than 28 million children are engaged in child labour and an estimated 4,700 children under the age of five die every day.
The Ikea Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change.