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Study on the situation of Indigenous children in Peru was presented today

Study shows great inequalities among Peruvian children


78% of all indigenous children and adolescents live in poverty, compared to 40% of Spanish speaking children.  


Lima, 19 August 2010 –  This morning the UNICEF and the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) presented the study on the “Situation of Indigenous Children in Peru” which reports the existence of great inequalities among Peruvian children and adolescents in close correlation with their ethnic origin.


The results of the study show that indigenous children and adolescents – those who speak Quechua, Aymara or another Amazonian language at home – live in not as good conditions and have access to fewer opportunities for development than those whose mother tongue is Spanish. This disadvantage gets worse among the native groups in the Amazon forest, with most of the negative indicators for poverty, health, education and identity, which are the factors addressed in the study.


According to the results presented, Peru’s indigenous population is comprised of more than four million persons, of whom more than one million are children and adolescents.


The UNICEF Representative in Peru, Paul Martin, noted that "throughout Latin America, indigenous populations in general - and indigenous children, in particular - have less access to social services and, therefore, worse indicators than non-indigenous children. Peru has clearly made significant achievements in reducing infant mortality, maternal mortality and chronic malnutrition for the entire population, including indigenous peoples. This study shows, however, that significant gaps remain between the general population and the indigenous population, and are even more marked with respect to indigenous children living in the Amazonian region."


The study shows that 78% of the indigenous child population (between the ages of 3 and 17) live in poverty, as compared to 40% of those whose mother tongue is Spanish. This inequality is greater in the ethnic groups living in the Amazon basin, where almost half the children (49%) live in extreme poverty.


The greatest number of indigenous children and adolescents concentrates in regions with the highest poverty rates: Huancavelica (82% poverty), Apurímac (76%), Ayacucho (72%) y Puno (67%).


The presentation of the study was made by INEI Head Director Renán Quispe, UNICEF Representative in Peru Paul Martin and Canadian Ambassador Richard Lecoq.


Health findings


The study shows that there have been advances in the indigenous population with respect to health insurance (socal security) since 2007. In fact, there are more Quechua- and Amazonian-language-speaking indigenous children and adolescents in the health insurance (socal security) system than children and adolescents speaking Spanish and Aymara. For example, while 60% of non-indigenous children between ages 3 and 5 are affiliated with a health insurance programme, the figure for indigenous children the same age stands at 79%.


However, it should be clarified that while there is indeed an increase in health coverage among the indigenous population, ther problems remain in the lack of health professionals (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) for health establishments located in areas where indigenous children and adolescents live.


Maternity is more frequent among adolescent women (between the ages of 15 and 20) who speak native Amazonian languages, where 44% of Ashaninka adolescent women have already had at least one child during this period, than among Quechua-speaking adolescents (21%) and Aymara speakers (16%).


The 61% of indigenous adolescent girls between ages 15 and 19 have heard of HIV-AIDS, but less than 20% have information about other sexually transmitted diseases.


It is more difficult for the indigenous children population to find safe drinking water and sanitation services: less than 40% have access to safe water and not more than 20% have access to sanitary waste disposal.


Education and birth registration Findings


In terms of education, around 32% of the indigenous children population ages 3 to 5 attend pre-school, as compared to 55% of their non-indigenous peers.


Among children ages 6 to 11 the attendance rate is above 90% in all groups except the Ashaninkas (77%) and other forest ethnicities (76%). On the other hand, education coverage between ages 12 and 17 drops around 10 points in all the groups.


With respect to school dropout before the end of the school year, the greatest percentage is in schools with more indigenous than native Spanish-speaking students. Regarding infrastructure, 27% of all primary school classrooms serving mostly indigenous students need major repairs, and 25% need minor repairs.


As for birth registration, the greatest percentage of persons without identification documents is concentrated in the Amazonian indigenous population. Among the Ashaninka population, one-fourth of all children between 3 and 5 lack birth certificates, and 35% of youths between the ages of 18 and 20 in the Amazonian region do not have the National Identity Documents (DNI).



In addition:


  • The proportion of indigenous children living in rural areas declines as their ages increase.
  • In regions where more than 25% of the population is indigenous, the child chronic malnutrition rate is above 20%, and in far remote communities (Huancavelica) it stands at 43%.
  • 44% of children under one year of age in indigenous communities in the Amazon region lack birth certificates.
  • Only 11% of the indigenous population between 18 and 20 has access to higher education.
  • 43 Andean and Amazonian languages are spoken in Peru, grouped in 19 linguistic families.


The complete study is available in Spanish on UNICEF Peru’s Web site at www.unicef.org/peru




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