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Canada announces more than $10M in funding to combat child marriage

In this Wednesday, April 24, 2013 file photo, Somali mothers and their babies wait in line for the babies to receive a five-in-one vaccine against several potentially fatal childhood diseases, at the Medina Maternal Child Health center in Mogadishu, Somalia.
In this Wednesday, April 24, 2013 file photo, Somali mothers and their babies wait in line for the babies to receive a five-in-one vaccine against several potentially fatal childhood diseases, at the Medina Maternal Child Health center in Mogadishu, Somalia. (Ben Curtis/AP Photo)

TORONTO – The Canadian government made two major funding announcements Wednesday to help worldwide efforts to help fight maternal and child malnutrition and child, early and forced marriage.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced the 11 Ontario-based NGOs and civil society groups that will share $180.3 million from 2015 to 2020 to carry out initiatives aimed at reducing maternal and child mortality in developing countries, while addressing issues like nutrition, sanitation and health worker training.

READ MORE: 5 made-in-Canada ideas helping women and babies around the world

Four NGOs based in British Columbia will share another $16.1 million in funding.

One of the NGOs receiving funding is World Vision, who received $41.5 million to lead a project aimed at improving nutrition in five countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar.

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“The key challenge that we face is around malnutrition,” said Elly Vandenberg, senior director with World Vision Canada. “It’s about trying to get kids and young mothers enough food and the right food.”

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The new funding follows the government’s $3.5-billion pledge to focus foreign aid between 2010-2015 on maternal, newborn and child health, known as the Muskoka Initiative. The government has set aside $420 million for NGO-run programs.

The 11-Ontario based NGOs that received funding include:

  • Action Against Hunger
  • Amref Health Africa in Canada
  • Christian Children’s Fund of Canada
  • CUSO International with the Canadian Association of Midwives
  • effect: hope – The Leprosy Mission Canada
  • GRID & NEA: Ghana Rural Integrated Development
  • Jane Goodall Institute of Canada
  • Plan International Canada
  • The Presbyterian Church in Canada
  • The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
  • World Vision Canada

The four B.C.-based NGOs are:

  • Global Aid Network
  • Geospatial/SALASAN Consulting Inc.
  • Tula Foundation
  • World Neighbours Canada

The announcement came on the same day as Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada will contribute more than $10 million to help fight child, early and forced marriage around the world.

READ MORE: Girls Not Brides: Ending child marriages

In a statement, Nicholson said Canada will invest more than $2.3 million to “promote secondary schooling and skills development training for girls and women in Commonwealth countries through open learning and distance education.”

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Another $8 million will be devoted over a two year period to support local community groups and governments, as well as NGOs and civil society groups, to combat child and forced marriages. The funding will be dispersed through Canadian embassies and high commissions.

According to the federal government there is an estimated 375 million women living in Commonwealth countries today who were married as children.