The year 2011 was marked by the presidential elections held in June. Then-candidate Ollanta Humala won, with 51.4% of the votes, in a voting process unmarred by incidents, according to the National Election Board (Jurado Nacional de Elecciones – JNE) and international observers. The objectives of the new Government are a major challenge: the reduction of poverty, social inclusion, and access to social services. The goals posed for 2016 are focused on achieving universal social protection for health during early chilhood.
The new regional governments elected in 2010 placed an emphasis on children and adolescents from the very start of their administration in 2011. Governments such as those of Amazonas and Ayacucho have prioritised children in their agendas through 2014, in an effort to improve nutrition, health, education, and protection. With the change in the Government and the subsequent changing of authorities, access to some processes was delayed. For example, while the number of deaths during childbirth fell between 2010 and 2011 (from 452 to 436), they increased in certain provinces that were weakened by the change in their authorities.
It is also important to point out the role of the decentralisation process in the allocation of budgets. The Ministry of Economics and Finance strengthened the results-based budget program, allotting 46.6% of these budgets to programs that directly affect the lives of children and adolescents in the regions. It is now necessary to train authorities to better manage these budget allocations in an effort to improve spending related to children.
Peru is a multilingual and ethnically diverse country. Indigenous children account for 15.7% of the population. Of these children, 78% come from homes living in poverty, while 45% live in extreme poverty. Among this group, indigenous children whose first language is an Amazonian language have fewer resources and are at a greater disadvantage. A full 86% of them come from poor homes, while 49% live in extreme poverty (The State of Indigenous Children in Peru, 2009, UNICEF). They suffer higher levels of mortality, malnutrition, and anaemia. They also have more limited access to sources of safe water, education, and the timely registration of their births.
In 2011, positive trends continued in the key indicators for children. One example is that of chronic malnutrition, which dropped by 2.8% over 2010 in the rural Amazonian regions, and by 2.1% in the Andean regions. This improvement goes hand in hand with the higher percentages of exclusive maternal breastfeeding. However, the percentages of malnutrition in these zones remain high.
The newborn mortality rate has decreased significantly in rural areas since 2000, from 31 to 14 per thousand live births. All of this coincides with better access to institutional childbirth and prenatal care. Although the rates have improved, it is still necessary to reinforce education on basic care for newborns.
The indicators for access to education are revealing. Access to preschool education by children between the ages of 3 and 5 has grown by less than 5% since 2008. The gap between rural and urban areas continues to be quite significant: 13% higher in the case of the latter group. Repeating grades has a much greater effect on children in rural areas, and 27% of indigenous children are enrolled in grades below those corresponding to their age.
The percentage of children without a birth certificate has been reduced since 2010, but remains high among children from Amazonian regions (18%), and even higher among those who live in rural Amazonian regions (23%). In early 2011, the country was struck by natural disasters such as floods and low temperatures. There were also protests and demonstrations which affected access to some services in several regions. Due to flooding, various rural towns in the Amazonian regions postponed the start of classes for up to three months.