Let’s fight child poverty

Beaven Dhliwayo Features Writer

Yesterday, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The United Nations has designated October 17 every year to reflect on the inroads that have been made to end the scourge of poverty.

Recently, there has been a massive drop in global extreme poverty rates from 36 percent in 1990 to 8,6 percent in 2018, increasing the economic and social opportunities for so many across the world.

The right for every child to a standard of living plays a significant role in the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

Poverty in childhood negatively impacts on the children’s development and, subsequently, leads to lower income and health when they become adults.

If Zimbabwe starts recognising child poverty as a denial of children’s human rights, then relevant Government departments and the private sector will be legally entailed to promote, protect and fulfil children’s rights.

To this end, it is equally important to also address the specific discriminations experienced by the girl child.

The numbers of people living in abject poverty across the globe are sobering.

According to the World Bank, 10 percent of the world’s population (700 million people) live in conditions of extreme poverty, surviving on less than US$1,90 per day.

This means children are also among those living in extreme poverty both internationally and in Zimbabwe.

In the country, nearly one in five children grows up poor, and the economic inequality gap between the richest and poorest individuals in communities has reached alarming levels in the recent past.

This year’s theme, “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty,” should act as a reminder for the nation to collectively address poverty and inequality in Zimbabwe.

There is need for the country to have a well defined structure that responds, engages and acts with children, families and adults in various communities towards the eradication of poverty.

Research also suggests that children are ready and willing to participate in addressing poverty issues in their communities.

Engaging children will definitely improve their social relations which will in turn give them a sense of energy, discipline and a more positive attitude. This increases their chances of getting a job in adulthood.

Ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions is not a problem affecting Zimbabwe only, but is a global development challenge which needs to be given top priority by heads of state to promote equality for all.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that Zimbabwe has ascribed to resolves to free the human race from poverty.

Extreme poverty results in poor living conditions, low educational outcomes, high levels of malnutrition and often high risks of exposure to different forms of violence.

According to the UN, one in five children in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to grow up in extreme “monetary” poverty, meaning they live in families without adequate incomes to make basic ends meet.

The situation, if not addressed, has long-lasting consequences for children and the communities they live in.

Poverty is wreaking havoc on the immediate well-being of children both in rural and urban communities as well as their biological and cognitive development.

In the long run, this unexploited potential hinders economic and social progress in the country.

According to Keetie Roelen, Co-Director, Centre for Social Protection, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, the psychosocial side of poverty is also important for formulating policies that more adequately respond to children’s multifaceted needs and vulnerabilities.

In Zimbabwe, parents and teachers should continuously engage children in conversations of wealth and poverty which will act as a critical step of reducing stereotypic beliefs and develop a sense of critical consciousness and civic identity.

All children see poverty and inequality as unfair, and given the chance, they will do anything within their strength to correct the differences.

Access to quality social services in the country must be a priority, because a significant number of children lack social protection coverage.

In future, the country should establish a social protection floor that provides a set of basic social security sureties and ensure all in need have access to essential health care and to basic income security which together secure effective access to goods and services.

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