The Children in Belize
Most children living in Belize are born healthy and have access to basic social services, which include health and primary education services. However, access to early childhood education services and secondary education continues to be low for Belize. The Belizean government is making strides to improve this situation, and it is hoped that access to universal early childhood services will be achieved in the next decade. Children are also affected by the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the region as is seen by the rising number of children orphaned by it. About fifty percent of all children in Belize live below the poverty line and even these national averages disguise the socio-economic, ethnic and geographic disparities that exclude many children from life-saving and life-building services.
Poor and rural children, particularly those of indigenous descent, are among the most marginalized and vulnerable members of this country. It has been a challenge for them to gain access to services that can save their lives and help them to emerge from cycles of poverty in which their families have been trapped for generations. This cycle of poverty is also perpetuated by natural disasters, which strike Belize very frequently. Hurricanes and floods are increasing in number and strength in the region as governments work to improve preparedness and response strategies. Flooding and destroyed homes often require people to live in extremely close quarters with access to clean water and sanitary conditions severely compromised. Vulnerability to the spread of life-threatening waterborne diseases can skyrocket among children, who are the most likely to suffer the consequences.