Sweden’s IKEA gives $48 mn to help India’s poor

February 24th, 2009 - 11:06 am ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Feb 24 (IANS) The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) initiatives supporting some of the poorest people in India, particularly women and children, are set to receive a $48 million boost from Swedish retail giant IKEA.
The donation from the IKEA Social Initiative will go towards projects aimed at improving the health and survival of millions of women and children in some of India’s most deprived areas, the agency announced Monday, coinciding with the day of International Corporate Philanthropy.

In India, one woman dies every seven minutes from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and nearly one million newborn babies die every year, Unicef said in a news release announcing the donation.

The agency noted that India is home to almost 40 percent of all malnourished children worldwide, with a record 25 million children under five years old suffering from wasting and 61 million children stunted due to malnutrition.

The donation from the IKEA Social Initiative will allow Unicef to support local and national government-led health, nutrition, clean water and sanitation projects, including those providing infants with immunisations and vitamin A supplements, as well as programmes advocating breastfeeding and the importance of nutritious food for children under the age of 24 months.

Unicef, IKEA and the Indian government created a partnership in 2000 to tackle the root causes of child labour in the carpet belt of India, including debt, poverty, the lack of access to education, disability and ill health.

As a result, some 80,000 children in Uttar Pradesh who were unable to attend school have been able to get an education, and around 140,000 children and 150,000 women have been immunised against infectious diseases.

Roughly 22,000 women have created their own employment opportunities through self-help groups supported by the partnership’s programmes.

The IKEA Social Initiative has become Unicef’s biggest corporate partner, with total commitments of more than $180 million from 2000 to 2015.

“The IKEA Social Initiative makes a serious corporate commitment toward improving the living conditions in countries where it is working,” said Saad Houry, Unicef Deputy Executive Director.

“IKEA’s investment in children’s well being, despite the downturn in the global economy, sets a high standard for corporate partnership,” added Houry.

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