Child poverty rate four times higher in north of Montenegro than in the central part of the country
ROZAJE, June 5 and BIJELO POLJE June 12, 2012 – UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks and Mayors of Northern Montenegrin cities Rozaje and Bijelo Polje, Nusret Kalac and Aleksandar Zuric presented first ever Child Poverty Study in Montenegro.
Child poverty is most heavily concentrated amongst children under five; those in large families, those whose parents have not finished secondary school and particularly children from the north of Montenegro and from rural areas.
The study shows that 10% of children and 6.1% of adults live in poverty in Montenegro with monthly expenditure below the poverty line, which is now 169.98 Euros per person.
"We cannot overcome the situation by only the engagement of local authority. The whole society must be changed and we understand that by changing the current situation and position of children and youth we will create better preconditions for development of wider social community," said Mayor of Rozaje Nusret Kalac.
Child poverty is unique because its impacts on child development are irreversible and will stay with the child throughout their entire lifecycle. Poor children are less likely to excel at school and more likely to suffer from ill health. They are more vulnerable to economic shocks, disasters and even exploitation and abuse. Child poverty is not just about income, it affects all aspects of childhood.
In both events in Rozaje and Bijelo Polje, UNICEF Social Policy Officer Slobodan Zivkovic presented key figures from the Child Poverty Study.
"Child Poverty Study confirmed expectations and showed that the concentration of poverty among the children is most pronounced in the north of Montenegro. Data shows that more than half of all poor children live in the north of Montenegro and that poverty is mostly present in the rural areas. Of all the poor children, even three quarters live in rural areas. The causes are numerous, but the unemployment of the family is one of the main causes,'' Zivkovic concluded.
During the presentation Zivkovic read out several statements made by children and parents published in Child Poverty Study.
“We have only one room. And the neighbours are always coming over. I can’t study until they leave,“ Zivkovic quoted a boy's statement included in the Study.
"When I look at this study and I read some of the comments made by children, all of our efforts look so tiny no matter the scale they are. We do know how much effort we are putting in to resolve each and every case that arrives to us. It looks like we are not doing enough, it looks like other institutions are not doing enough and we need to do more because the statements by these children are maybe best example for that and I am sure that we can all improve our work on this field,'' said Mayor of Bijelo Polje, Aleksandar Zuric.
Child poverty is a social problem which blights every country in the world, including the wealthiest and is a major challenge for governments, societies and communities everywhere.
''Poverty is more than just lack of income and expenditure; it results in poorer outcomes across all aspects of childhood. It prevents children from realising their full potential in terms of education and eventually perhaps entering labour market. And this is an asset loss for the growth and economic development of all of society. In addition to poorer health, education and social outcomes, children living in poverty are more likely to be abused and exploited, more likely to enter into to the labour market early, and drop out of school early,'' UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks concluded.
The findings of the first Child Poverty Study in Montenegro will contribute to on-going policy dialogue on how to address the situation of poor children and their families.