Protecting childhood from austerity is a global as well as a national responsibility. National and local governments need to demonstrate commitment and capacity to act upon child poverty.
The monitoring and analysis of national budgets from the perspective of their impact on children is a promising approach to promoting increased resource allocation for children and maximizing its effective use. Better targeting of education, health and social assistance services towards the poor, addressing government-related impediments to service quality and effectiveness, increasing community participation, and scaling up on the basis of successful programmes would help meet the good governance requirements of the Monterrey Consensus for developing countries
Substantial additional resources could be freed up, for example, by diverting expenditure on weapons and other military equipment. If even a fraction of this expenditure were diverted to health or education this would release millions - if not billions - of dollars.
Donors, too, are duty-bound to keep their word to children in developing countries. Promises made to children at the Special Session, and enshrined in ‘A World Fit for Children’ cannot be forgotten. Pledges made following the Monterrey Consensus in 2002 to increase official development assistance by around $18.5 billion a year until 2006 must also be realized. The quality of aid also requires enhancement through improved harmonization of donor policies with recipients’ priorities. Investment in essential goods, services and infrastructure that directly satisfy children’s rights is crucial: without it, none of the other international development agendas will be realized.
Reaching the Millennium Development Goals and acting on child poverty are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Many of the deprivations children face can be addressed by a positive change in their family income and better access to basic social services. This will require greater awareness, concepts that tackle child poverty as a multidimensional notion, better monitoring and sharing of lessons, and efforts to build a broad coalition of agents.
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