The Eastern and Southern Africa region is witnessing an historic demographic change. The child population of the 21 countries in the region is expected to expand by more than 50 per cent, from 260 million in 2020 to almost 400 million in 2050. Investing in children is essential both for the socio-economic development of the region and for its political stability.
Around two out of every three children are affected by multi-dimensional poverty.
Because of a rapidly expanding population, more children in the region are growing up in poverty than in 1990. Child poverty includes monetary and non-monetary dimensions – defined as deprivations of rights and access to essential social services, such as health, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, education, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), and child protection. Under the non-monetary lens, the latest child poverty reports (see below) indicate that approximately two out every three persons under the age of 18 in the region suffer from multiple deprivations.
The legacy of child poverty can last a lifetime.
Poverty in childhood can have life-long consequences, with the poorest children less likely to access health care or complete their education and more likely to suffer from poor nutrition or emotional and physical violence.
Children who do not reach their full potential cannot contribute fully to social, political and economic growth, and those who grow up in poverty are more likely to be poor when they are older, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and disadvantage.
It is in every government’s long-term interest to invest in children to prevent, manage and overcome the poverty that threatens their well-being as well as the economic potential of their countries.