Government committed to addressing child poverty … Minister Skweyiya
30 May 2007 - The National Symposium on Child Poverty kicked off Child Protection Week 2007 under the lead of the Ministry for Social Development on 28 and 29 May 2007. The Symposium brought together high level government officials, researchers, policy makers, international development agencies, and grassroots representatives to debate and think through the challenges of addressing child poverty in South Africa.
The Minister for Social Development indicated that it was important to understand poverty as a multidimensional issue that requires a holistic and integrated approach. He further emphasised the importance of government’s strategies to address child poverty such as the child support grant. He also indicates that one of government’s priorities is to accelerate early childhood development for the current and succeeding periods.
UNICEF Regional Policy Advisor Prof Sudhanshu Handa’s presentation dealt with the emerging African model for cash transfers as observed in South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Uganda. He emphasised the social and economic case for early childhood development and summarized the evidence on the impact of early childhood deficits and later life outcomes, and outlined successful strategies to avoid the loss of developmental potential for young children in developing countries.
Ms Julianna Lindsey, UNICEF Deputy Representative in South Africa, urged delegates to develop forward looking scenarios to address child poverty in the country. She also stressed the importance of gathering evidence that can be used to demonstrate that programmes to alleviate child poverty truly have an impact and are worth funding.
The symposium created the opportunity to pull recommendations on addressing child poverty from its high level representation.
Deputy Minister for Social Development, Dr Jean Benjamin, summarized the recommendations for action. These recommendations will be reviewed by the Ministry and Department of Social Development. It is evident that recommendations focus on policy, resource mobilization, and practical solutions in addressing child poverty.
UNICEF wishes to express our appreciation to the Ministry for Social Development for initiating this important debate on solutions towards ending child poverty in South Africa. This symposium set an important milestone towards the country’s progress in achieving Millennium Development Goal 1 (Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger).