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Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis

Almost half of Mozambican children still live in poverty finds UN report

Maputo, 14 December 2006 – Despite impressive economic progress in Mozambique over the past decade, almost half of Mozambican children still suffer from two or more severe deprivations in terms of health, education, nutrition, shelter or other critical areas for their survival and development finds the new United Nations report Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis launched in Maputo today.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of the socio-economic situation of the ten million Mozambican children, especially with regard to childhood poverty. It combines the official consumption-based measure with a deprivations-based measure of childhood poverty, which examines children’s access to water, sanitation, shelter, education, health, nutrition and information.

“This report is important because it provides the most comprehensive picture of all Mozambican children – including the most vulnerable and isolated – and helps us understand how poverty affects children,” said the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa James Morris.

Mozambique shows promise of meeting several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets related to poverty reduction, child mortality and maternal health said Morris at the launch of the report.

However, poverty reduction efforts and other social advances have not benefited everyone equally the report shows. Child poverty is a pervasive and deep rooted problem, with about 49 per cent of children living in extreme poverty – meaning that they are deprived of two or more of their rights, according to the deprivations-based measure used in the report. The report finds that:

  • 49 per cent of children face severe water deprivation, which means that they only have access to surface water (e.g. rivers) for drinking or live in households where the nearest source of water is more than 30 minutes away.

  • 47 per cent of children face severe sanitation deprivation, which means that they have no access to a toilet of any kind in the vicinity of their dwelling, including communal toilets or latrines.

  • 39 per cent of children are facing severe information deprivation, which means that have no possession of and access to radio, television, telephone or newspapers at home.

  • 24 per cent of children between 7 and 18 years are severely deprived of education, which means that they have never been to school and are not currently attending school.

  • 17 per cent of children under five years are experiencing severe health deprivation, which means that theyhave never been immunised or that they have suffered from a severe episode of acute respiratory infection (ARI) that was not treated.

  • 6 per cent of children suffer from shelter deprivation, which means that they live in dwellings with more than five people per room (severe overcrowding).
© UNICEF/MOZA/E.Machiana
At the launch of the UN report, ‘Childhood Poverty in Mozambique’, two young journalists look at paintings produced by children on the ‘child-friendly schools’ theme.

According to the deprivations-based approach, the proportion of children living in poverty is greater in rural areas (63 per cent) than in urban areas (20 per cent). The report highlights significant differences between provinces, with three per cent of children in the capital Maputo living in absolute poverty compared to 75 per cent in the province of Zambezia in the north of the country.

The report finds that poor families often live alongside the non-poor and most inequality can be observed within districts. In families where the head of the household has no education, 68 per cent of children are living in absolute poverty, compared with 11 per cent in households where the head has secondary or higher education.

Inequalities are also gender-based shows the report. Female-headed households – which represent a third of all households in Mozambique – are poorer than families headed by men.
The report finds that the country’s 1.6 million orphans – of whom more than 380,000 have lost their parents to AIDS-related illnesses – are among the most vulnerable. Orphaned children face a number of vulnerabilities and risks, such as sexual exploitation and abuse, hazardous child labour, early sexual debut and marriage, dispossession of property, poor access to basic services, poor school attendance and performance and poor emotional and mental health. Children living in child-headed households are particularly vulnerable.

The HIV and AIDS pandemic is the greatest threat to Mozambique’s development. There are about 1.7 million people living with HIV and AIDS – 58 per cent are women. As parents continue to die, the number of orphaned children is predicted to rise to 626,000 in 2010. Life expectancy is also expected to fall from 37.1 years in 2006 to 35.9 years by 2010.

“The report shows that when combined with HIV and AIDS, poverty strikes at the most vulnerable. High malnutrition – affecting especially orphaned children – can be found in areas with severe food insecurity and high HIV prevalence,” said Morris.

The report concludes that concerted efforts are required from all those responsible for the reduction of childhood poverty – including Government, civil society and international development partners – in order both to reduce the incidence of childhood poverty and mitigate its impact, and also to ensure that specific strategies are in place to reach the most marginalised and excluded children.

For more information, please contact:

Thierry Delvigne-Jean, Communication, UNICEF Maputo,





Related publications

Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis (Summary)

Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis

A Pobreza na Infância em Moçambique: Uma Análise da Situação e das Tendências (Sumário)

A Pobreza na Infância em Moçambique: Uma Análise da Situação e das Tendências


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