Poorer countries treating children better

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The reports of the just released ‘African child welfare’ conducted in 52 African countries by an independent advocacy agency called African Child Policy Forum, has shown that the children of poorer countries are treated better and enjoy a better welfare on the average in comparison to children from richer countries.

This analysis was based on the amount of money a country spends on children’s health and education, government laws and policies to protect children’s rights, as well as the proportion of a country’s budget allocated to nutrition, water, sanitation and military resources.

The Ethiopian based independent pan-African advocacy organization, found that some of the poorest countries score surprisingly well in child welfare as a whole. According to Sir Richard Jolly, a former official at the UN children’s agency Unicef, ‘Governments that have come out well have put in place laws to protect children from abuse and exploitation, and they’ve targeted resources at children through better health and education.’

In the rankings, Malawi and Namibia were amongst the top ten countries, and they did much better than richer countries like Sudan and Angola. Mauritius was top and Guinea-Bissau bottom was at the bottom of the table.

Malawi which ranks first in its budgetary commitment to children, has the 45th lowest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Africa while Equatorial Guinea which ranks 44th in its budgetary commitment has one of the highest GDPs per capita in Africa.

The rankings revealed that Eritrea, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Chad were considered to be among the least child-friendly countries. The reports also revealed that 18 African countries do not offer any protection to children faced with child trafficking, and about 12 other countries have not outlawed female genital mutilation.

According to the African Child Policy Forum reports, when it comes to protecting children from harm and exploitation, Kenya comes out top. Kenya has laws against harmful traditional practices, trafficking and sexual exploitation, and is one of the few countries where corporal punishment is banned in schools and prisons.

Dr Assefa Bequele, the Executive Director of African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) said ‘The idea is to encourage countries to become more child-centred by showing how they compare to their neighbors and because this report has been compiled by an African organisation for Africa, it may have more traction across the continent.

It will be repeated every two years to monitor progress. Its authors expect countries that do focus on their children to develop faster than those which do not. The countries that invest in children will have a more productive work-force and the foundation of a more peaceful and democratic country. The investment will certainly pay off.’

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