Although Maldives has achieved remarkable economic growth and progression, the country continues to face many changes and challenges especially for children and youth; nurturing of a nascent democracy, withstanding and responding to the social and economic impact of the global economic crises, preparing for the impact of climate change, and adjusting to its recent graduation to a Middle Income Country status in 2011 among others. These challenges and opportunities also imply a strategic shift in the overall UN’s and in particular UNICEF’s cooperation to policy advocacy and guidance, access to knowledge, targeted technical support and a substantial scale-up in capacity development support. The following issues and its impact on children and young people are of particular concern to the Government and UNICEF:
- For a country with middle-income status, the poverty rate is significant, with 51% of the population falling below it in 2009-10.
- An estimated number of around 61,000 children are considered to be in the poverty threshold across the country
- Youth unemployment is much higher than the over-all unemployment. Young males, 15-19 years old in the atolls had the highest unemployment rate at 52.3 % according to statistics of years 2009-2010
- Stunting amongst children under 5 years of age is at 18.9%
- The proportion of children 5-14 years of age working has increased from 26.2% in 2001 to 34.2% in 2009
- The huge proportion of young age of drug users especially in the capital is significant with 48% of drug users between 15-19 years of age.
- A widening gap between the rich and the poor and its possible implications on child survival, development, protection and participation