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Malawi, 17 August 2016: Children multi-dimensionally deprived – need for proper targeting to achieve equity

LILONGWE, Malawi, 17 August 2016 – Sixty-three per cent of Malawi’s children are deprived of basic needs such as education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation, shelter and information and the most vulnerable represent one third of all children, according to the first ever Malawi Child Poverty Report released by UNICEF today.

This is the first time in Malawi that child poverty has been measured beyond that of income poverty emphasizing that poverty is not only about money. The report, highlights child poverty based on deprivations of basic needs such as education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation, shelter and information as opposed to income poverty alone.

The impact of poverty during childhood has detrimental and irreversible effects on children, if not addressed early. These include higher risk of low birth weight and child mortality, poor nutrition and high levels of stunting, lower performance at school and lower levels of emotional and psychosocial well-being. Besides, poor children are at greater risk of becoming poor adults and consequently, poverty passes from one generation to another.

By adopting a multi-dimensional approach to measure child poverty, the report facilitates the effective identification, targeting and support of deprived children. Multidimensional child deprivation is the non-fulfillment of children’s rights in the main dimensions of survival, development, protection and participation based of five dimensions namely health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and housing for children below the age of five; and on seven dimensions: education, information, water, sanitation, protection, food security and housing for children aged 5 to 17.

The release of the Malawi Child Poverty Report findings also coincides with the local launch of State of the World’s Children (2016) report, which is promoting a fair chance for every child especially the most vulnerable.

“There are a lot of inequalities still existing among children in Malawi and without decisive steps to break the cycle of poverty, we will continue to deny millions of children a fair chance in life and fuel intergenerational cycles of disadvantage,” said Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Representative in Malawi.

The State of the World Children Report acknowledges that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty. Global under-five mortality rates have more than halved since 1990, boys and girls attend primary school in equal numbers in 129 countries, and the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide is almost half of what it was in the 1990s. The progress however, has been neither even nor fair.

The Malawi Child Poverty and State of the World’s Children reports’ offers us a chance to reflect whether the policies that are in place in Malawi to promote the well-being of children are holistic enough to tackle the issues raised.

“Currently, the country is developing the implementation framework for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. It is imperative that the next development strategy for the country incorporates integrated solutions to the challenges children face through innovative ways that will address old problems, more equitable investment and increased involvement by communities,” Wedenig added.

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