According to the United Nations and the World Health Organization, 16 000 children under the age of five died every day in 2015, and mostly from preventable causes. That’s 5.9 million children around the world. In emerging economies there is a lot of opportunity to turn these statistics around and fulfil the Fourth UN Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality. The question is – how can companies be a part of the solution?
In Colombia, Cemex’s combined approach involves multiple initiatives to tackle varying issues that affect people in our communities, such as infrastructure and affordable housing, supporting children in their earliest and most vulnerable years.
Our recent collaboration with the Presidential Council for Early Childhood seeks to combine technical, human and financial resources to develop infrastructure projects that support quality comprehensive care in early childhood. According to the World Bank, robust infrastructure makes “health facilities more accessible to poor families in rural areas, which allows for more frequent and less costly visits” for their children and for pregnant mothers, which helps to prevent infant deaths.
Through the Plan Padrino, or Godfather Plan, we are combining efforts to create safe and quality spaces, such as schools or hospitals, adequate for the comprehensive care of children under the age of five. This public-private collaboration brings companies together to use their individual expertise, provide information, make up a coordinating committee, work together in calling on local authorities and civil society for the development of infrastructure projects, and establish a work plan to meet the defined objectives.
Another important aspect of early childhood well-being is the existence of a safe and dignified home, since poor-quality housing can contribute to ill health, according to The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. However, this dream is oftentimes out of reach for children from families with lower resources. We joined forces with Compensar, a private, non-profit compensation fund in Colombia, to help improve the conditions of family homes in Bogotá and Soacha, Colombia.
With the launch of the “Renew Your Home" program, families that qualify receive a credit for purchasing construction materials as well as comprehensive advice from experts during the construction process. Carlos Puerto, Cemex Head of Social Business in Colombia, says that "these programs are important as they give people who do not have access to bank loans the opportunity to be able to improve their homes. The process is simple: once the family is approved, the materials are on site within 7 working days."
Through this program there is great potential to support families in vulnerable situations that wish to create safe homes to support the health and well-being of their children, but that previously did not have the resources to do so. Cemex has extensive and proven experience in this field through our programs Bloqueras Solidarias and Patrimonio Hoy in various countries. As of July of this year, these programs have benefited more than 85 000 people in Colombia.
Developing these programs in Colombia together the national government, NGOs, private companies and academia is important for enabling greater reach and sustainability. "In Compensar we found an important ally since they have significant resources that will be allocated, by way of loans, to families affiliated with this compensation fund that have a clear need to improve their homes," said Mariana Jaramillo, Cemex Corporate Affairs Vice President for the SCA&C region. The Patrimonio Hoyprogram will provide the necessary counseling so that people can carry out their projects with Compensar professionally and safely.
Through these and other programs, Cemex will continue to build a better future in Colombia benefitting the communities where we operate.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/the-americas/30082016/cemex-collaborates-local-institutions-colombia-162/
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