Information and stories addressing children.

Human Trafficking in Peru
Peru is home to world-famous cultural sites, exquisite dishes and a vast array of bright-colored fabrics. However, beyond the nation’s appealing attractions and delectable meals, human trafficking in Peru is leading to the exploitation of the most vulnerable individuals in society.

Victims of Human Trafficking in Peru

Around 863,000 Venezuelans fled their country and entered Peru in order to seek refuge. Peruvian traffickers exploit refugees when traveling to Peru or shortly after their arrival. In 2019, 301 Venezuelan adults and children worked as prostitutes or engaged in forced labor.

Traffickers exploit adolescents due to their eagerness to work. When Peruvian schools close down from December to February for the holidays, many students seek employment to obtain extra pocket money. However, traffickers lure these individuals in with false promises of work and high financial compensation. Exploiters take the adolescent males to remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, like the Madre de Dios region, to engage in forced labor in the illegal extraction of gold. Additionally, traffickers obligate female teenagers to offer sex services to the adult miners in the area.

Lastly, exploiters target children due to their willingness to follow directions. However,  some Peruvians living in poverty willingly sell their children to human traffickers to receive financial compensation. The infamous terrorist group called The Shining Path steals children and trains them to become soldiers for its organization. Also, some children work as farmers, housekeepers, produce and transport drugs or engage in terrorism. Traffickers who do not belong to the terrorist group force young individuals to engage in panhandling, sell products in the streets, become housekeepers, produce and sell cocaine or other illegal activities.

Challenges with the Judicial System

Individuals found guilty of human trafficking in Peru spend eight to 15 years in prison for exploiting adults, 12 to 20 years for exploiting adolescents and at least 25 years for exploiting children according to Article 53 of the penal code. However, human traffickers almost never receive adequate punishment for their crimes. More often than not, criminals receive light sentences because judges find it difficult to prosecute more complicated crimes.

Solutions

The Peruvian government offered training and workshops on how to identify human trafficking to almost 1,000 government employees and regular citizens. Over 100 members of law enforcement learned how to better identify victims of human trafficking. Also, officials offered training to 22 regions of the country that receive a high amount of foreign visitors in order to reduce exploitation in the tourist sector. Lastly, the government provided support to initiatives that help raise awareness to students and children. These initiatives provide workshops, hand out flyers and engage in conversation with young individuals at transit stations. For example, since its establishment in 2017, A Theater Against Human Trafficking traveled to schools to promote awareness and advocate for the prevention of human trafficking in Peru.

With the in-kind support of the government, nonprofit organizations provided adequate training to 253 members of the judicial system on human trafficking, 821 lawyers and almost 1,000 shelters on how to deal with trafficking victims. They also taught classes to members of law enforcement on how to approach victims. One of the main organizations receiving help from the government is Capital Humano y Social Alternativo. Since its establishment in 2004, CHS Alternativo protected the rights of human trafficking victims and reached more than 1,400 victims.

The Catholic Relief Services in Peru provide shelter and protection to individuals who escaped their traffickers. CRS came to Peru in 1950 and impacted the lives of 15,224 victims. Social workers who work for these organizations go to areas that human trafficking most affects, like Madre de Dios, to provide counseling services to victims. Also, social workers go to local schools to provide workshops about trafficking to students.

Although human trafficking persists in Peru, the government and nonprofit organizations take serious efforts to raise awareness about the issue and to provide help for victims. With the increased efforts to stop human trafficking in Peru, the country can expect a decrease in the exploitation of vulnerable individuals.

– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in DjiboutiLocated on the Horn of Africa along the Bab el-Mandeb, an important maritime chokepoint is the small African nation of Djibouti. With a population of one million but high levels of poverty and limited funding for social welfare programs, child labor in Djibouti has been widespread historically. However, efforts from the government and international actors over recent years have started to reverse this phenomenon.

The Nation of Djibouti

According to Humanium, an NGO focused on protecting children’s rights across the globe, 42% of Djibouti’s population lives in extreme poverty. Child labor is primarily caused by extreme poverty, as parents force their children to work so that they can survive. Therefore, Djibouti’s children are some of the most vulnerable to child labor due to poverty throughout the nation.

As a result of their families’ financial situation, over 12% of children ages 5-14 work. Working can isolate children socially or prevent them from having the time to pursue their academic interests. Only 60-65% of children complete primary education in Djibouti. With many children unable to obtain an education due to work or other circumstances, child labor in Djibouti perpetuates the cycle of poverty generation after generation.

Government Efforts Toward Child Labor

Djibouti’s government has taken an active role over the past decade in reducing child labor. The active role is shown through establishing workgroups and various programs focused on identifying the contributing factors of child labor. One of the main projects is the Anti-Trafficking Working Group, which has improved cross-agency government collaboration to counteract human trafficking. The Prime Minister leads the National Council for Children in its efforts to secure birth certificates for immigrants, ensure education for refugees and reunify separated migrant families. Furthermore, the Council successfully established a temporary shelter for children living on the street in 2018. Therefore, it made these at-risk kids less likely to be coerced into child labor. The government established the National Family Solidarity program to decrease child labor. They supported Djiboutian households in extreme poverty via cash transfers. These programs represent a start to ending child labor in Djibouti, something that future leaders of Djibouti can continue to prioritize.

Despite the government’s efforts, various legal loopholes remain that benefit those who exploit child labor. Many of the statutes only apply to children working in the formal business sector. Therefore, Djibouti’s laws are less comprehensive than international standards. This is especially problematic because most child labor cases occur in the informal business sector. Some examples are working in small shops, selling items on the street and working in family-owned businesses in rural communities. Without true legislative changes, Djibouti’s laws will continue to fail in identifying and eliminating most child labor cases.

Additionally, there were only five labor law inspectors in Djibouti as of 2018. This means that Djibouti’s labor force of almost 300,000 has approximately one labor law inspector for every 60,000 workers. Without the resources or personnel necessary to expose and eradicate child labor, child labor will continue. This brings harm to Djibouti’s long-run humanitarian situation, living conditions and economic growth.

International Support

Yet, despite the shortcomings so far to end child labor in Djibouti, UN-sponsored efforts and aid from various countries/NGOs, present an optimistic future. UNICEF currently works with the government of Djibouti, the United States and the Humanitarian Action for Children Project to increase access to education for the most vulnerable Djiboutian children (orphans and those in poorer areas). This program has helped over 4,500 children obtain pre-primary, primary or secondary education in Djibouti. The U.S. government has also funded a $500,000 program to train law enforcement and expand communication capabilities between the private and public sectors, regarding ending forced labor/human trafficking. Finally, the World Bank oversees numerous programs that deal with the root causes of poverty and child labor in Djibouti by promoting human capital development and education.

Cooperation and a Promising Future

Going forward, it will be pivotal for the government to continue focusing on lowering the extreme poverty rate. Reforming legislation to meet international standards, then enforcing it as well as protecting children of all ages and backgrounds, is the next step in Djibouti’s fight against child labor. Improving human rights means better access to education. This will likely help the economic situation of Djibouti by breaking the cycle of poverty. However, the international community plays a crucial role in helping Djibouti. Some of the most successful initiatives have come from international partnerships and UN-sponsored programs. Cooperation is critical in Djibouti, whereas complacency will be catastrophic.

– Alex Berman
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Guatemala
Guatemala, with an ever-growing population of almost 18 million, is the most populous country in all of Central America. After 36 years of civil war, the country struggles to rebuild and combat poverty. Poverty is a prevalent and persistent issue in the land of the Maya. Unfortunately, Guatemala ranks in the top 50 poorest countries in the world with 56% of the population living below the poverty line. By and large, this disproportionately affects Guatemalan children, and specifically native children of the Maya, Garifuna and Xinca. Combined, these Native groups comprise over half of the entire population. Thus, aboriginal kids are the primary victims of extreme Guatemalan child poverty. Furthermore, it is important to understand what contributes to this cycle of child poverty in Guatemala, its effects and what the global community is doing to eradicate it.

Facts About Guatemalan Child Poverty

The consequences of child poverty in Guatemala are heavy. The cycle of poverty begins when a child is born and statistically follows them into adulthood. These facts demonstrate the effects of child poverty in Guatemala:

  • About 28% of Guatemalan children do not attend school and must work to help contribute to their family’s income. As a result, Guatemala has one of the highest child labor rates in the Americas.
  • Due to such scarcity in resources and money, almost one-half of young Guatemalan children are continuously undernourished.
  • Girls are especially vulnerable to the cycle of poverty due to their familial situations. This stems from child marriage and the overwhelming growth of families. Thus, the larger the family, the harder the struggle to stay above the poverty line.

With these facts in mind, it is important to note that many global forces are working to end Guatemalan child poverty and impoverishment as a whole in the country.

How to Help End Guatemalan Child Poverty

There are many ways to end child poverty in Guatemala. One of these is education. In fact, a study by the World Bank stated that “education plays a crucial role in combatting chronic poverty and preventing transmission of deprivation between generations.” Intervening in education is not only a vital need for individual children but also for their families and society at large. A leader in the fight against child poverty in Guatemala is Save the Children.

Save the Children

Since 1999, Save the Children has been a leading charity organization in Guatemala. The organization works to aid poor, indigenous families living in rural areas of the country by providing education, protection and peace-building programs.

The organization’s Literacy, Education and Nutrition for Sustainability (LENS) program provides the following:

  • Encourages and strengthens reading skills
  • Promotes healthy behaviors and best practices
  • Provides well-balanced school food programs
  • Improves school facilities
  • Focuses and educates communities on water and sanitation techniques
  • Teaches the skills necessary for livestock management and production

With the help of donations, volunteers and spreading awareness, Save the Children provides the necessary education and skills to help kids sustain a liveable income. In turn, results show that proper schooling enables access to better employment and higher wages.

Overall, the country has felt the organization’s impact. The nonprofit’s work to give Guatemalan children the opportunity to have a successful life through education, protection and overall aid has shown great progress. Save the Children has provided safety for 9,000 kids and helped more than 30,000 children in crisis. It has also provided help to overcome poverty to more than 65,000 kids.

By and large, the fight to end child poverty in Guatemala continues to progress. There are many avenues in which one can involve themself and help make a difference. One kind act such as a donation can change the lives of many.

– Sallie Blackmon
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Over 89,000,000 people live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), making it the 16th most populated nation. Located in southern Africa, the DRC is one of the world’s poorest nations with around 72% of the population living in poverty. Sadly, infants and children are the main victims of this poverty making the need for help vital. Significant efforts from many different organizations have helped to save thousands of lives. Here are five important facts about child poverty in the DRC.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in the DRC

  1. Mortality Rate: The DRC has an 84.8 under-5 mortality rate out of every 1,000 births. This means that for every 100 children born, eight of them will not reach the age of 6. However, this number has dropped exponentially in the past 20 years due to the work of agencies such as USAID which has invested $34,000,000 to the cause. In 2014, USAID began the Acting on the Call Report which uses data analysis to pinpoint where it needs to allocate its funding. Helping mothers both before and after birth with medical supplies has saved thousands of children because of this data analysis. In the six years since, the under-5 mortality rate has dropped by more than 15.
  2. Education: Providing quality learning opportunities in school is a crucial aspect of breaking the poverty cycle. Over 7,000,000 children in the DRC cannot receive an education because of poorly funded schools and a lack of supplies. Improvement is coming as the government in the DRC has stated that it will allocate 20% of its spending budget to education in 2018 and maintain it at that level until 2025. This increased funding has led to more children reading and writing as now the DRC posts an 85% literacy rate for all children ages 15-24. Still, young girls experience discrimination as only 79% between 15 and 24-years-old are literate, proving that more work is necessary.
  3. Clean Water: Access to clean water is important to anyone, regardless of age. In the DRC, only 43% of people have access to basic drinking water services. This lack of water has contributed to the high infant mortality rates and will impact the Congolese for their entire lives. Projects to bring clean water to all citizens are occurring but the government is unable to expedite the process. Reports have determined that donors provide nearly 99% of water sector financing in the DRC, making every contribution meaningful. From 2008 to 2017, 2.3 million DRC citizens gained access to clean water as a result of Global Waters and other water relief efforts.
  4. Malnutrition: Right from birth, children in the DRC are in a food shortage. UNICEF has created a system to detect potential malnourishment by collecting data on child nutrition and household food security through a network of 110 sites. This has helped make sure that children and their families who may need assistance are identified and provided food. Additionally, Actions Against Hunger helped nearly 200,000 Congolese in 2019 alone gain food security and nutrition.
  5. Play Time: War and violence have become a common occurrence in the DRC. This has created a dangerous environment for young children to play with friends. Hearing these stories motivated Bethany Frank to create a toy to help DRC’s youth deal with trauma. PlayGarden, as it is known, is a small sanctuary that can include spatial awareness games that can reduce the likelihood of relieving symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many times, the focus on poverty eradication efforts goes towards resources and neglects the fact that children need to play.

Child poverty in the DRC is challenging to combat. But advancements in clean water, food and education will help pave the road to better conditions. The work that some are doing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has not reached completion, but many children have benefitted from what they have accomplished so far.

Zachary Hardenstine
Photo: Flickr

Operation Christmas ChildFor most of the world, Christmas comes once a year. A day full of red bows and snow glistening in the December sun. Not so for Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit headquartered in North Carolina. For them, Christmas is not merely a holiday, but a lifestyle. Operation Christmas Child began as a mom and pop project in the United Kingdom. It quickly grew into a worldwide phenomenon under the umbrella of Samaritan’s Purse. Over 150 countries annually take part in the program. Every year volunteers fill shoeboxes with toys, basic care items and a message of hope for the eager hands of boys and girls living in underdeveloped countries.

Volunteers from around the world spend the months leading up to Christmas filling boxes to the brim. Schools, churches, community organizations and individuals all work to bring a glimmer of light to poverty-stricken countries. Last year, Samaritan’s Purse was able to collect 10.5 million shoeboxes to give to the world’s poor.

Operation Christmas Child in Madagascar

One country in particular that reaps from Operation Christmas Child’s generosity is Madagascar. Madagascar is an African island nearly 800 miles from the shoreline of Mozambique. It is home to exotic species, the deciduous baobab trees and unfortunately, overwhelming statistical poverty. According to The World Bank, 70.7% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2012. Three factors that play a role in the rise of poverty in Madagascar are political crises, climate shocks and a sharp increase in global food prices.

With all the compounding factors that exacerbate poverty, Madagascar is a perfect destination for Operation Christmas Child to focus its energy.

Students in Madagascar

It was the summer of 2017. Mary Patton Murphy, a rising high school junior, packed her bags for her first trip across the world. Murphy is one of around thirty students that was able to be a part of the competitive week-long student vision trip with Samaritan’s Purse in 2017.

For years, Murphy had packed shoeboxes in the months leading to Christmas and dropped them off during National Collection Week. One year, a child that received one of her boxes sent Murphy a letter thanking her. This personal experience made her fall deeply in love with the organization. Murphy’s trip to Madagascar allowed her to see the ins and outs of the organization.

“It is such a well-run process,” says Murphy, “[the organization] truly maximize[s] their resources.” Murphy witnessed this first-hand during her time spent in Madagascar. Volunteers visited two distribution centers a day where each shoebox is diligently cared for and searched to ensure the safety of the delivery.

Murphy illustrated the process, noting that it “is a long one.” She expounded adding that “the shoeboxes travel to a local collection center. Then they are consolidated into carton boxes and sent to a processing center to make sure there isn’t anything harmful in any of the shoeboxes like toothpaste because the kids will try to eat it. They might add to a box if it is low on supplies or toys. Then the shoeboxes are shipped across the world. Some of these kids have never received a present before.”

Wrapping Up

Volunteers of all ages are the driving forcing behind this operation from beginning to end. They all advocate to make a difference in the lives of impoverished children across the globe. For individuals who would like to advocate on behalf of these children, they should visit this website.

The leaves fade from various shades of red and yellow and the morning air turns crisp and cool. The collection of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child will soon be underway. Make an early start to the season of giving with a mere shoebox, a few toys and a heart for the world’s poor.

Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Iceland
Popular for its beautiful landmarks and picturesque views, Iceland is now facing an issue that highlights a much darker reality taking place on the nordic island. Iceland has been able to keep poverty at a relatively low percentage for much of its history. However, in the past decade, the country has experienced a drastic rise in poverty and child poverty in Iceland in particular. One can largely attribute this to the economic collapse that the country experienced a little over a decade ago.

The Situation

In 2008, Iceland’s banks defaulted as a result of loans that the country had taken out with many foreign banks. At the time, Icelandic banks were some of the most lucrative banks globally. The country accumulated a massive amount of debt following large loans and grand foreign investments. The intention was to further boost the economy and to take advantage of the financial prosperity taking place in the country at the time. The value of the Icelandic currency, the Krona, was at an all-time high with a 900% increase in value. The country experienced an economic boom, and citizens received encouragement to take part in the flourishing economy. As a result, many purchased expensive homes, took on multiple mortgages and invested in foreign companies. The country was, unfortunately, unable to pay these large sums back. The result was catastrophic. Banks defaulted on foreign loans leading to a massive national financial crisis. Iceland’s credit was tarnished and almost every business in the country had gone bankrupt. Citizens ended up with large bills with little or no way to pay them. What followed was an extreme rise in poverty.

The Consequences of the Crash

Healthcare expenses experienced a peak, and with mortgages nearly doubling in cost, the price of living increased exponentially. Many households were unable to afford the basic and vital services required for daily living. According to a report discussing the consequences of the crisis, unemployment rates rose to 7.6%. This was 5% higher than the annual unemployment rates prior to the economic downturn. Inflation was another result of the crash. Mortgage prices increased nearly doubling. With the national currency, the krona, experiencing a decrease in value, the price of many goods and services suffered an impact as well. Iceland saw a substantial rise in housing insecurity and homelessness. Citizens took to the streets to protest many of the issues taking place at the time, and to express their frustrations with the government’s reactions to the crisis. This resulted in a new left-leaning government that promised to offer support for its struggling citizens.

Child Poverty in Iceland and Government Aid

Child poverty saw a drastic rise during this time of economic downturn. In fact, child poverty increased from 11.2% to 31.6% between 2008 and 2012. Unemployment was on the rise, and families faced immense financial strife that greatly affected the home. Iceland’s government was able to provide its residents with support for regular access to vital resources such as food, housing and healthcare. Healthcare programs that Iceland put in place prior to the crash offered much-needed support to Icelandic citizens with healthcare services during the crash. The Icelandic government also provided support in many areas. This included welfare services for low-income households, along with a tax decrease for low-income earners and a tax increase for high-income earners. This ensured financial support for the most vulnerable during the crash. Low and mid-income-earning citizens received social benefits and debt relief. Wealth redistribution played a large role in the economic support provided for citizens during this time.

The Case of Child Poverty

The ways in which poverty can present itself differs from nation to nation. One can find many of the challenges most common amongst Icelandic children living in poverty in many nations across the globe. According to a report by Humanium.org, some of the key issues that impoverished Icelandic children face are varying health issues, emotional strife, sexual exploitation and labor exploitation.

Confronting Child Poverty

Throughout Iceland’s history, poverty rates have been well managed in comparison to other less developed Islands. Prior to the financial crisis, Iceland held a relatively low poverty rate. According to a Statistics Iceland report, a total of 9% of the population was at risk of living in poverty in comparison to 16% in other nordic islands and the estimated 23% in the United Kingdom.  While poverty existed in the country, it was certainly not as high as during or after the crisis. Iceland has done tremendous work to repair its economy. The programs that Iceland’s government implemented provided support for many low-income families while also helping to boost its then damaged economy. Unfortunately, citizens who plummeted into poverty as a result of the economic downturn have struggled to find a way out. To combat this, the Icelandic government has implemented many methods of support for citizens facing these challenges. This includes lower-cost healthcare services, debt relief for mortgage holders and social services for low income earning citizens. These policies have proven to provide much promise for a reduction in poverty overall in the country. The goal is that with a decrease in general poverty, the child poverty rates will also reduce in Iceland.

Imani A. Smikle
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Chile
Chile is one of the most economically advanced and prosperous countries in Latin America. However, large wage gaps and wealth distribution continue to be at the forefront of the nation’s problems. As a result, high rates of poverty prevail; approximately 14.4% of the population live below the poverty line with a high prevalence of child poverty in Chile as well.

Children, one of the country’s most vulnerable populations, are especially susceptible to the consequences that poverty causes. Those who come from poorer families are more likely to face spillover effects with regard to their education, as well as their overall health and well-being. Additionally, indigenous and migrant children face an added level of discrimination. Because of these issues, child poverty in Chile is a growing concern.

Education

Although school is mandatory for all children between the ages of 7 and 16, in rural areas, many children receive only limited schooling. There are an estimated 75,000 children who do not attend school. Oftentimes, children may abandon school in order to work and provide for their families.

The inequality with regard to access to education is even more evident in the higher education system, where enrollment costs are among the highest in the world. According to a survey released in 2017, 58% of Chileans believe that a lack of education leads to a lack of opportunities, further exacerbating overall poverty in Chile.

The good news is that UNICEF worked with the government in order to reduce child poverty in Chile by establishing laws and programs that provide additional protection for children’s right to education, like the development of the Inclusive Education Act and the New Public Education Act. UNICEF has also supported the Ministry of Education in developing strategies to train teachers, which emerged through a partnership with UNICEF and Fútbol Más, an organization that works to ensure the well-being of Chilean children.

Labor

Correlated to the lack of access to education, 6.6% of children between the ages of 5-17 are participants in child labor. Additionally, there are gender discrepancies within child labor; 9.5% of boys and 3.9% of girls engage in the workforce. Child labor is often a result of high unemployment rates; families expect and depend on their children to accrue revenue. The most common industries of work are commerce, hotel, restaurants, social services, agriculture and construction.

Moreover, the conditions of the workplace can have a negative impact on children’s overall health; approximately 70.6% of working children work at jobs that are dangerous. Those who work in agriculture are especially susceptible to perform unsafe tasks. The lack of public data available, including how much money goes toward inspection and the number of labor inspectors, further worsens how the country manages child labor.

Still, progress has occurred. In 2017, Chile developed a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, updating its list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children, as well as its inspector laws. The government also revised the Anti-Trafficking National Action Plan in 2019 and continues to support programs that address child labor, though commercial sexual exploitation and child labor are ongoing issues.

Abuse

Not only does violence occur within the workplace, but also within the confines of the home. Children who become victims of physical, sexual and psychological domestic violence will frequently turn to the streets in order to escape their alarming home environments. Many end up in cities, surviving day to day and not knowing what their next source of water or food will be. These “street children” lack proper education, as well as many other resources necessary for a developing child.

About 547 adolescents and children lived on the streets during 2018. Fundación Don Bosco is an organization that gives opportunities to both children and adults who live in the street. The organization offers food, housing, psychological and psychiatric assistance to children and their parents, with the hope of rebuilding familial ties and reintegration. As previously mentioned, family abuse, and thus division, is the main reason why children take to the streets. Because of this, Fundación Don Bosco followed and offered professional support to 191 street children and their families.

Native and Migrant Children

In addition to street children, native and migrant children are two more marginalized groups that are especially susceptible to child poverty in Chile. About 5% of Chile’s population comprises of indigenous people, primarily the Aymara and the Mapuche. These children do not have the same access to education and healthy lifestyles as other children, due to their family’s lower economic status. As a result, they are likely to engage in labor work, from the fields to the factories, in order to help support their families. All the while, they can experience discrimination or people may view them as inferior due to their indigenous status.

Migrant children also face discrimination, especially with regard to their education. As a result, in 2017, the Ministry of Education evaluated migrant children in the education system in order to better assess and understand their role within the system, as well as to help identify barriers related to overall school inclusion. This led to the creation of the program, Chile Recognizes, which assists in regularizing the identity situation and status of migrant children.

Despite the evident fact that there is child poverty in Chile, economic and social progress has occurred. In 2019, the National Prosecutor’s Office signed an agreement to help improve coordination in providing services to children in need, as well as ensure that both Chile’s standards and reality with regard to children’s rights and development align with those of international expectations and treaties.

Marielle Marlys
Photo: Flickr

 

Child Poverty in Tanzania
In the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, Tanzania is one of the leading nations in development and reform. Since 2010, Tanzania’s economic indicators have held steadily above the average numbers of the rest of the region, boasting a positive GDP growth between 5% and 7% in the last 10 years. According to the World Bank’s 2019 Tanzania Mainland Poverty Assessment, poverty decreased by 8% in 10 years. Still, the World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Bella Bird, urged the nation “to accelerate the pace of poverty reduction as the number of poor people remains high.” This article will assess child poverty in Tanzania and the efforts to eradicate it.

Better Planning, Better Counting

 In 2011, Tanzania committed itself to a series of national Five Year Development Plans (FYDP) to reach economic and human development goals by 2025. The Second Five Development Plan (FYDP II), 2016/17 – 2020/21, includes “poverty reduction” as a main focus. Tanzania’s overall positive economic performance results from a commitment to accurate assessment and careful planning that has welcomed newer and better ways to assess certain indicators, such as child poverty.

With the help of UNICEF, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published the Child Poverty in Tanzania report in 2019. This report assesses child poverty in Tanzania through the recently developed framework known as Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA), which “complements the traditional method of measuring poverty through the lens of a household’s aggregate income and consumption.” The report notes that MODA brings to focus the “importance in the wellbeing of a child during childhood” without losing sight of the monetary implications of poverty.

Multidimensional Child Poverty in Tanzania

The report defines “multidimensional child poverty” as a child who “suffers deprivation in three or more key dimensions of poverty: nutrition, health, protection, education, information, sanitation, water and housing.” The report further divides each dimension into indicators, thresholds and applicable ages. Using data from the 2014/15 National Panel Survey, this 2019 report provides an update on a previous report from 2016, and a clearer look at the issue of child poverty in Tanzania.

Below is a breakdown of each dimension, its indicators and the percentage of children (0-17 years old) deprived of each respective dimension.

  • Nutrition: The prevalence of stunting or wasting, body mass index (BMI) and dietary diversity – 30.1% of children deprived.
  • Health: Mother’s assisted delivery, antenatal care, support to a child with severe disability, malaria and diarrhea – 54.7% of children deprived.
  • Protection: Victim of crime, birth registration, early marriage and child labor – 86.4% of children deprived.
  • Water: Unimproved water and time to fetch water – 72.3% of children deprived.
  • Sanitation: Unsafe waste disposal, unsafe stool disposal and unimproved/shared sanitation – 91.1% of children deprived.
  • Housing: Inadequate floor/roof, overcrowding and solid cooking fuel – 88.8% of children deprived.
  • Education: Literacy, school enrolment, completed primary, pre-school enrolment and grade for age – 36.1% of children deprived.
  • Information: Communication device and access to information – 39.4% of children deprived.

The report concludes that a total of 88% of children in Tanzania are multidimensionally poor, meaning that they suffer from at least three deprivations above.

Higher Figures, Good or Bad?

According to the report, 19.5% of children live in monetary poverty, a much lower figure. Why, then, should Tanzania pay attention to the higher figure from the more complicated model? Working through the MODA methodology provides a more accurate look at the barriers that block Tanzanian children from participating in the semi-industrial future of their government’s goals.

Furthermore, this approach to understanding poverty highlights the importance of investing in programs that go beyond monetary solutions. While Tanzania has been successful in its cash-transfer programs, there may be a need to improve programs that tend to the non-monetary wellbeing of children should the country heed to Bird’s suggestions of speeding up the pace of progress.

USAID and Tanzania

Fortunately, Tanzania is not alone in the development and investment of such programs. USAID has recognized the need to empower the youth by increasing access to health care, water, nutrition and education, among other resources. Since the updated report in June 2019, USAID has developed two new programs that affect children directly: one in nutrition (30.1% of children deprived) and one in education (36.1% of children deprived).

Advancing Nutrition

Through the Advancing Nutrition activity, USAID works with Tanzanian authorities to support the implementation and further development of the National Multi-sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP), initially set up in 2016 and due for a second iteration after June 2021. According to the midterm NMNAP report, Tanzania is on track to meet most of its goals from 2016.

Between 2014 and 2018:

  • Acute malnutrition in children 5-years-old and under has dropped from 3.8% to 3.5%.
  • The prevalence of overweight children under 5-years-old has dropped from 3.5% to 2.8%.
  • The proportion of children aged 0-5 months who are exclusively breastfed rose from 41% to 58%.
  • The proportion of children aged 6-23 months who received a minimum acceptable diet increased from 20% to 30%.

Hesabu Na Elimu Jumuishi (“Arithmetic and Inclusive Education”)

The second program developed after June 2019 for children revolves around education. The Arithmetic and Inclusive Education activity expands math instruction for young children and “addresses the need for inclusive education for children with disabilities.” According to the UNICEF report, around 48% of children 5-13 years old experience deprivation in the education dimension. This USAID activity will work directly to improve this indicator of multidimensional in child poverty in Tanzania.

Looking Ahead

Tanzanian leaders and international groups understand the need to develop more aggressive plans to tackle poverty. As the USAID Tanzania Activity Briefer notes in the “Better Policies” activity description: “a reduction in poverty slower than the economic growth rate implies that growth has not sufficiently reached those who are the most vulnerable.”

In the next two years, Tanzania’s development (FYDP) and nutrition (NMNAP) plans will be re-discussed and re-planned. Many of USAID’s programs in Tanzania will also soon reach a conclusion, such as the “Water Resources Integration Development Initiative” (WARIDI), which improves sanitation and water management while creating jobs (72.3% of children experience deprivation in the water dimension).

Through this new look at indicators of poverty, namely multidimensional child poverty, such programs along with the government now have a better understanding of how to allocate resources purposefully to address more directly the issue of child poverty in Tanzania.

– Luis Gonzalez Kompalic
Photo: Flickr

How Child Care Initiatives Improve Poverty in Canada
Although poverty in Canada has significantly improved in the last decade, the problem as a whole still exists. For many, this way of living begins when a person is still a child in early stages of their development and growth. Parents of these children often do not make enough money, which is a cause of generational poverty. Because of this, many families struggle to complete both money-making and child care tasks properly. Thus, extreme poverty may not be eradicated without accessible and affordable childcare. Here are several child care initiatives in Canada working to assist impoverished parents and children.

Canada Child Benefit

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a program created by the Canadian government to help relieve parents of some child care stress. By paying a tax-free fee every month, parents who need some extra support raising their children can benefit from this program. The CCB provides basic assistance such as supervision and proper medical care for children while their parents are away at work. It also accommodates for child care situations in which supervision is required for longer periods of time.

The amount of monetary assistance a parent may receive depends on a number of things. For example, how many children are present in a household or how much money a family makes. Just from the past two years, nearly 24 billion U.S. dollars have served over three and a half million Canadian families. CCB has led to a continuous decline in the number of children living in poverty in Canada, meaning families are able to strive towards a better future.

Child Care Now

Child Care Now is a non-profit organization aiming for quality child care throughout Canada. More than 700 delegates help advocate for Child Care Now. In addition, the non-profit has relieved the strain put on families to find adequate and affordable child care. From the start of Child Care Now, many areas in Canada have expanded their child care locations. In Ontario, around 100 spaces have opened with regulated care and in Manitoba, another 700 licensed spaces have opened. With its many locations, Child Care Now hopes to provide families with the affordable and quality child care they deserve.

Early Education and Child Care

Early Education and Child Care (ECEC) is a Canadian program that aims to benefit child development while children are in school. Education for young children is crucial for development because children absorb the most information at very young ages. Low-income families are provided with subsidies or sometimes even given free education for their children. According to the Conference Board of Canada, spending a dollar on education for children below five will help children gain six dollars in the future. This shows just how important it is for children to receive quality care and education.

How Child Care Initiatives Help Poverty in Canada

These initiatives are just a few that provide child care and resources to Canadian children and families in need. Investing in a low-income child’s future while they are young will only benefit their future. Without proper education for parents and children, it makes it extremely difficult for one to gain upward mobility without a resume or experience. Through child care initiatives, financially struggling families can improve their chances of economic mobility and lower rates of poverty in Canada simultaneously.

Karina Wong
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Israel
Poverty in Israel impacts 469,400 families with around 1.8 million Israeli citizens living below the poverty line. Children make up 841,000 of the Israeli citizens in poverty, ranking second-most severe, next to Turkey. Poverty in Israel rose from 19.4% in 2017 to 20.4% in 2018 while child poverty rose 2% in those years from 27.1% to 29.1%. Luckily, there are groups looking to reduce child poverty by providing aid to those experiencing hunger. Several non -governmental agencies are working to collect, preserve and distribute food in the country.

Nutrition Among Impoverished Children in Israel

Child poverty in Israel results in children not receiving proper nutrition and reaching their full potential. Welfare services are in place for children who live in extreme poverty in Israel. In 2018, there were 2,934,000 children in Israel. Of these children, poverty affected 14% or 400,000. Families with more children are more likely to experience poverty. In fact, families with an average of five children or more account for two-thirds of child poverty in Israel. Meanwhile, poverty affects 25% of single-family households in Israel. Families who have immigrated from other countries since 1990 account for 16% of all children who are on the welfare support system and about 57.8% of Arab children live in poverty.

State support for child poverty in Israel lacks the nutritional diversity necessary to sustain proper growth and development. About 76.3% of children receiving nutritional support receive only bread and condiments. Meanwhile, reports have determined that 54.5% of children in poverty in Israel have smaller meals than required for proper nutrition or have skipped meals altogether.

The Work of Latet

Latet, meaning “To Give,” works to eliminate child poverty in Israel. Latet has been working to restore dignity and feed families in Israel for more than 20 years.  Latet supervises 180 local organizations in Israel aimed at helping Israeli citizens sustain food supply via means of a food bank and other aid programs that attempt to reduce child poverty in Israel. Latet provides assistance to more than 60,000 families monthly by salvaging food that may have otherwise gone to waste. It collects food from grocery stores, food manufactures and food distributors before sending it to its distribution center. There, the organization sorts, packages and distributes the food to families in need. Latet owns a fleet of trucks for distribution, which occurs to preserve the dignity of families who are able to benefit from the organization’s services.

Latet maintains economic efficiency by maximizing benefits to families. For every one shekel that it attributes to costs of gathering and transporting food, it obtains and distributes nine shekels worth of food. About 19,100 volunteers have provided 452,000 hours of aid that assist child poverty in Israel. Latet has successfully salvaged $25,000,000 in food annually that would have otherwise gone to waste, and distributed it to families in need. Because of the strategic partnership that Latet has with food supply chains in Israel, it has been able to successfully supply much-needed food to help fight child poverty in Israel.

Non-governmental agencies such as Latet are continuing the fight against child poverty in Israel. It is striving to gain support and momentum both in Israel and abroad. The Alternative Poverty Report, which Latet distributes, keeps track of progress and provides different statistics to bring to light the severity of issues of poverty in Israel. The organization has thousands of volunteers and has large public displays to help raise awareness to provide aid to the issue of Israel’s child poverty.

– Carolyn Lyrenmann
Photo: Flickr