UNICEF conference rings alarm bells on child poverty in South AsiaRegional conference on child well-being and equity open today in Dhaka
Dhaka, Bangladesh 1 November 2009. New data presented by UNICEF here today shows that 300 million children are trapped in poverty in South Asia -almost half of the children in South Asia.
At the opening of a conference in Dhaka on Achieving Child Wellbeing and Equity in South Asia, UNICEF urged leaders of the region to seek new ways of addressing child poverty by addressing deprivation of children’s seven basic needs: food, education, health, information, shelter, water and sanitation.
The conference was opened by the Minister of Planning, Government of Bangladesh, A.K. Khandaker. Other delegates at the conference were the Minister for Women and Child Affairs, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary, Vice Chair of the Planning Commission of Nepal, Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada, Deputy Minister of Health and Family from the Maldives, Mariya Ali, Director Information of poverty alleviation, SAARC, Niranjan Basnyat, as well as government officials, academics, and other groups working to eliminate child poverty from the region, representatives from UNICEF and other UN agencies and NGO partners from across South Asia. The conference closes on Tuesday 3 November.
UNICEF is proposing that a shift in the definition of poverty needs to take place - away from a narrow measurement that addresses income exclusively to a definition that includes income poverty, deprivation and well-being. This approach can result in comprehensive policy responses that target a more holistic approach to achieving children’s well-being.
During this conference on ‘Achieving Child Wellbeing and Equity in South Asia’, Governments, UNICEF and civil society examined ways of using this new approach to pinpoint efforts to tackle child poverty.
Key interventions that require investment include scaling-up national programmes on nutrition and associated health interventions, including community-based management of acute malnutrition, newborn and maternal health initiatives and support to basic health services through childhood, youth and early adulthood for women, as well as improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene and education.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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