Researcher Calls for Action On Child Poverty

A new report last week painted a gloomy picture or poverty among Uganda’s children.

Coming days before this year’s Day of the African Child, which is today, the report is a wakeup call to leaders to make and implement policies that protect the most vulnerable children. Tellingly, the report shows that children born to secondary-educated parents stand a better chance of being out of abject deprivation.

Titled Situation Analysis of Child Poverty and Deprivation in Uganda, the report was released by Unicef and the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. It found that 55 per cent of children between zero to four years in Uganda live in poverty.

One in five children live in extreme poverty, while 38 per cent of children aged six to 17 years live in poverty – with half of them living in extreme poverty. The report says child poverty rates are much higher in northern Uganda. Central and western regions have the lowest rates.

By region:

According to the report, a child is considered to live in poverty if they experienced deprivations in two or more dimensions which include access to education, nutrition, health, water, sanitation, shelter, and information. Almost three quarters of children in northern Uganda missed two or more of these. It is followed by the eastern region, with 58 per cent and 50 per cent for western and central regions.

The seven dimensions were adopted from the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“Children are concerned that not having enough to eat means that they must engage in child labour, and when they skip meals during the school day, it affects their ability to learn,” the report says.

And this is costing government. For instance, the report says, poor nutrition is estimated to cost Uganda Shs 1.8 trillion, equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually.

Education:

According to the report, children aged 0-4 years, who live in households where the head has no education, are five times more likely to be in extreme poverty than those whose household head has secondary education.

And households with more children are more likely to experience child poverty. Beyond the household, geographical and regional locations were also found to be significant factors.

Policy, action:

Dr Sarah Ssewanyana, the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) executive director, said politicians should pass laws that would help drive children out of poverty instead of pointing fingers at each other.

“It is good to pass and discuss the laws and also solicit for funds from development partners, but when we don’t put them into use then it is useless,” Ssewanyana said.

She added that in the next National Development Plan (NDP), child poverty measures should be included to ensure that the well-being of a child is captured, not just within sectors. Ssewanyana said service delivery towards hard-to-reach areas should also be improved as the country moves to understanding child poverty by sub-region.

Source : The Observer

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