Here is the conclusion of the discussion, I began last week. I await your comments on this critical issue as it affects our dear children.
Published on its website (www.unicef.org), UNICEF on its Child Protection Information Sheet, titled, Child Protection, the MDGs and the Millennium declaration, submits as follows: ‘Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: Children who live in extreme poverty are often those who experience violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination. They easily become marginalized and are frequently denied such essential services as health care and education. In a self-perpetuating cycle, marginalization of children who are victims of violence and abuse decreases their likelihood of escaping poverty in the future. Child labour– both a cause and consequence of poverty – damages a child’s health, threatens education and leads to further exploitation and abuse.’
UNICEF concludes, ‘poverty is a root cause for trafficking. Without documents to prove birth registration, children and families often cannot access health, education and other social services, and States cannot plan poverty alleviation and social service programmes without accurate estimates of annual births. Poverty and exclusion can contribute to child abandonment and the separation of children from their families, as children are sent to work on the streets or parents are forced to migrate and leave their children behind. Children might end up in foster or institutional care arrangements which can lead to marginalization and decrease their chances of breaking the cycle of poverty. Armed conflict depletes physical, economic and human resources and leads to displacement of populations.’
I think it is important at this point to consider how the world has performed in achieving the Goal 1 of the MDGs as it relates to child protection in Africa, which is my core concern. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 stated among other things under Goal 1 as follows: ‘Despite this impressive achievement at the global level, 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost half the population live on less than $1.25 a day. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region that saw the number of people living in extreme poverty rise steadily, from 290 million in 1990 to 414 million in 2010, accounting for more than a third of people worldwide who are destitute. The report further reveals, ‘the World Bank projects that, by 2015, about 970 million people will still be living on less than $1.25 a day in countries classified as low- or middle-income in 1990. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia will each be home to about 40 per cent of the developing world population living in extreme poverty.’
In particular reference to Nigeria, the UNDP reports concerning Goal 1 on its website (www.ng.undp.org) states, ‘recent economic growth, particularly in agriculture, has markedly reduced the proportion of underweight children, from 35.7 per cent in 1990 to 23.1 per cent in 2008. However, growth has not generated enough jobs and its effect on poverty is not yet clear (the most recent data is from 2004). The available data and the current policy environment suggest that the target will be difficult to meet.’
Both the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 and the UNDP report give us the reason for the state of affairs with achieving Goal 1 of the MDGs. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 submits, ‘around the world, abject poverty is found in areas where poor health and lack of education deprive people of productive employment; environmental resources have been depleted or spoiled; and corruption, conflict and bad governance waste public resources and discourage private investment.’
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 challenges the international community thus, ‘the international community now needs to take the next steps to continue the fight against poverty at all these various levels.’ The UNDP reports give us a clue to how the international community can answer the call made by the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, ‘growth needs to be more equitable and broad-based. Developing agriculture and creating jobs will require the public sector to create an enabling environment for business, including building critical infrastructure, making regulatory services transparent and providing sustainable access to enterprise finance. Social protection and poverty eradication programmes need to be scaled-up and better coordinated.’
As it relates to the MDGs, particularly the Goal 1, which I focused on here, you will agree with me that there is still a lot to be done in terms of eradicating poverty and hunger in Africa. The farther the journey is, the dimmer is it for our children and their protection. Therefore it is time to exert pressure on our leaders to address the issues identified in the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 as the leading hindrances to achieving Goal 1 of the MDGs. It is also our responsibility as African to decide to contribute our quota to achieving the Goal 1 and other MDGs in the best interest of the African child.
I charge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think…Think the FUTURE…Do have an INSPIRED week.