Polio eradication now in sight
But Rotary clubs still need funding
Matamata Rotary is again at the forefront of global fundraising efforts to rid the world of polio, raising more than $ 9000 for the campaign at last week’s Rural Urban charity dinner.
The local event, which was part of Rotary International’s World’s Greatest Meal campaign, saw hundreds of Rotary clubs around the globe fundraising for the cause and once again Matamata was one of the largest individual contributing events.
Rotary Club of Matamata Director Tony Wilding said he was blown away by the response from the local community.
‘‘We set ourselves modest targets from this event and are absolutely astounded by the generosity of the 200 guests who attended the dinner.
‘‘ More than $ 4500 was raised from the auction of desserts alone and with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matching our total contribution two to one, it means the local event has contributed a staggering $27,000 to the End Polio Now campaign,’’ Wilding said.
‘‘ Matamata has once again pulled together to show the true meaning of community.’’
In 2012, the Matamata community took the polio eradication message to heart when the Global Swimarathon in town netted $20,000 for Rotary International’s Polio Plus campaign – the single largest contribution in that event.
Wilding said Rotary International had been at the forefront of the polio eradication programme for nearly three decades.
‘‘There are now only three countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria – where polio is still endemic. We [Rotary International] are very close to the end goal of complete eradication but there is a need to continue fundraising until that aim is achieved.’’
Polio is a crippling, sometimes life-threatening disease, which can be transferred rapidly in areas where children have not been vaccinated.
The evening’s speaker Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Professor of Agribusiness at Waikato University, gave her perspective on the continuing battle to feed an ever-growing world population in a sustainable manner.
‘‘In the 1950s there were 3 billion people in the world and now we have more than 9 billion,’’ Rowarth said. ‘‘Agriculture is about feeding people sustainably so we can protect the environment’’.
Rowarth said that while the world faced the issue of sustainability, the driving force for consumers in the supermarket was price, not where or how the food is produced.
‘‘Our challenge is to get people to understand that the proportion of income spent on food is getting less. Last year the (food) spend was up by 0.6 per cent but wages rose on average 1.6 per cent.’’
Rowarth said it was vital that there was continued research into sustainable food production, given New Zealand government expectations that the value of exports to gross domestic product would rise to 40 per cent by 2025.
‘‘ We need government encouragement for participation in sciences at secondary and tertiary levels and to set resource management policies based on scientific research and evidence.
‘‘With this, New Zealand can play a leading role in sustainability in the global marketplace,’’ Rowarth said.
Informative: Dr Jacqueline Rowarth discusses sustainable agriculture.