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UNICEF calls for increased investment in the children of Mozambique

UNICEF Moçambique
© UNICEF Mozambique/2011/ H. Ruiz
Universal Children's Day takes place on November 20 annually. It was also chosen as the day to celebrate childhood.

MAPUTO, Mozambique 18 November 2011 - On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day, celebrated worldwide on November 20 each year, UNICEF Mozambique Representative Jesper Morch is calling for increased investment in the children of Mozambique. Such investments could take the form of continued expansion of social protection programs provided by the Government or the initiation of other efforts in both the public and the private sector to improve the well-being of children. Social protection involves the transfer of funds from the state budget to vulnerable households, in order to build their resilience in dealing with economic hardship and chronic poverty and, ultimately, to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

“Social protection, broadly speaking, is an instrument or a mechanism to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable groups, such as poor families and children, which helps protect them from economic hardship and starvation by providing a subsidy that comes from the state budget,” says Jesper Morch, UNICEF Mozambique Representative. Such subsidies are common in developed countries, but less common in poor countries, although countries like Brazil, Mexico and South Africa all have implemented successful social protection programs, often linked to specific conditionality, such as school attendance, birth attendance or pre-natal care attendance.

“According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have a right to welfare and wellbeing, which includes the right to health, nutrition, education, protection and a decent standard of living,” says Mr. Morch.

“These rights come with a cost, and it is possible to define and calculate the unit cost or the price tag for the welfare and wellbeing of every Mozambican child. This price tag can be used to calculate the amount of resources that need to be invested to provide social protection for Mozambican children and other vulnerable groups,” continues Mr. Morch.

“It is important that the Government continues to fund social protection programs over the state budget and that international donors continue to support such efforts, which will help Mozambican children and ultimately the entire country,” says Mr. Morch.

“We, as UNICEF, have been very impressed by the systematic and progressive steps taken by the Government of Mozambique to expand basic social protection programs for vulnerable households, to improve the efficiency of such programs and to coordinate and harmonize different programs,” says Mr. Morch. “It is important that this positive momentum is maintained as we go forward.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that Mozambique's natural resources have the potential to generate vast income and revenues for the country.

“It follows logically from the Convention on the Rights of the Child that part of those revenues could be invested in the immediate, medium-term and long-term well-being and welfare of Mozambique's current and future generations of children,” says the UNICEF Representative.

“A very practical way of achieving this and ensuring a just redistribution of income is to apply a Child Welfare Tax of, for example, USD 3 per ton of coal extracted and exported from Mozambique. The mining companies enjoy enormous profits accruing from their operations in Mozambique, so a USD 3 tax on a ton of coal that sells for USD 120 is a reasonable form of redistribution,” says Jesper Morch.

Mr. Morch stresses the fact that human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, only become important when they take on concrete meaning for the individual child, the child’s family and his or her community. What is important is to have a holistic and integrated approach that aims to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Introducing a Child Welfare Tax on the extractive industries would be a significant contribution to this objective.

“International conventions on human rights and on child rights specifically must be perceived to make a real difference in the child’s life. The issue of rights must move from something abstract to something concrete, something that is real and tangible. Our collective challenge, in other words, is to build a culture of child rights whereby rights have a practical and concrete meaning for all of us and affect us in our everyday life, whether we are children (rights holders) or entrusted with protecting children rights,” concludes the UNICEF Representative.

Universal Children's Day
Universal Children's Day takes place on November 20 annually. First proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, it was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world's children. It was also chosen as the day to celebrate childhood. November 20 is also the anniversary of the day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was then signed on the same day in 1989, which has since been ratified by 191 states, including Mozambique, which ratified the Convention in 1994.

For more information please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org

 

 

 

 

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