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Child Poverty and Disparities Studies Send Message that Investment in Children is the Smart Thing to Do

PORT VILA, 27 August, 2012 – “Put children first. Because children’s well-being is paramount to our country’s development, investment in children is the best investment we can make.”

The Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Mr. Moana Carcasses Kalosil made the above remarks today in launching two informative publications that focus on children - the Vanuatu Child Poverty and Disparities Study as well as Children in Vanuatu: 2011 An Atlas of Social Indicators.

Both reports provide useful information for Government and development partners to strengthen their policies, programmes and budgets for the benefit of children.

Information on the status of children in general and specifically in areas of education, health, sanitation, child protection and child development, as well as the hardship and disparities faced within the country are featured in the reports. 

Minister Kalosil reiterated that “children experience all forms of poverty more acutely than adults because of their vulnerability due to age and dependency. Lack of nutrition, education, health and protection has lifelong adverse impacts on children’s life and therefore on the country. These adverse impacts on children are irreversible at a later stage of  life.”

In congratulating the Government of Vanuatu for being the first country in the Pacific to undertake a Child Poverty Study, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Deputy Representative, Ms. Isabelle Austin said
“What stands out clearly from the two reports launched today is the issue of geographic disparities and the differences in living conditions of children in different parts and islands of the country.”

“Where a child is born determines to an extent whether or not that child survives to his or her fifth birthday, whether or not that child receives vaccinations, has access to adequate water and sanitation, will go to school and so forth,” she added.

Although progress has already been made in several areas such as the reduction in infant and under-five mortality rates over the past two decades because of improved public health programs, the passing of the Family Protection Act in 2008, which makes domestic violence a crime and establishes a system for the protection of girls and women, as well as the government introduced policy of ‘fee free’ primary education in 2010, there is still much to be done.

Ms. Austin raised the issue of scaling up and expanding coverage of existing programmes in health and education, strengthening national systems to protect children and women against violence, abuse and neglect, and exploring the introduction of additional social protection programmes for children and families experiencing 'hardships'.

The Vanuatu Child Poverty and Disparities study emphasizes that poverty affects children in vastly different ways than adults. As a result, policy makers need to look beyond family income indicators to gain a more complete picture of poverty and the deprivations children face. The report shows that nearly one in five children live below the basic needs poverty line.

Poverty hits children hardest, because it causes life-long and irreparable damage to their minds and bodies. A child’s life is a series of events for which there are no ‘second chances.’ Once missed, the window of opportunity is lost. We must therefore ensure that each and every child gets the best start in life so that they will thrive, survive and meet their fullest potential as possible.

The other report launched today titled Children in Vanuatu: 2011 An Atlas of Social Indicators is a snap shot on the situation of children in Vanuatu based on existing data and information. It covers progress made in fulfilling the child rights, while highlighting gaps and inequities.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

For more information, please contact Donna Hoerder, on telephone: 678 – 24655 or email:



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