The Fight Against Child Poverty in Sudan
Sudan, a country in northeast Africa, is Africa’s third-largest country by area. After years of conflict and political instability, this vast country continues to suffer from underdevelopment and poverty despite its Human Development Index increasing by 52% from 1990 to 2017. One group that suffers the effects of poverty the most is Sudan’s children. Despite making recent gains in development, child poverty is still a major concern throughout Sudan because of its various humanitarian crises. Here are some important things to know about child poverty in Sudan.
Child Poverty Overview
According to UNICEF, 36% of Sudanese live under the poverty line. When children live in poverty in Sudan, they face violence, lack of schooling and health problems. In 2018, 1 million Sudanese children encountered global acute malnutrition because of food insecurity, poor health services and unclean water supply. The financial status of families often dictates access to resources. In Sudan’s poorest families, children have 2.1 times the risk of death in comparison to children in financially stable homes. To combat malnutrition, UNICEF has partnered with local farmers and communities to cultivate peanuts. Using peanuts, UNICEF creates Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a peanut paste that provides sufficient nutrients for malnourished children. UNICEF and partnering communities’ procurement of RUTF is making significant advances in addressing malnutrition.
Violence and conflict harm many Sudanese children. Over a single weekend in January 2021, an inter-communal conflict in Darfur, Sudan killed 83 people, including children, and forced many families into displacement. Often separated from their families, displaced children live in horrible conditions and do not have access to health services. Some Sudanese children, mainly boys, even participate in armed conflict.
Registration of Children
In Sudan, 33% of children 5 and under have not registered with civil authorities. Registering a child at birth means the child is eligible for schooling, health services and other government activities. Parents often find obtaining registration difficult because of registration fees and insufficient registration centers. Registration rates vary by state with the average rate of registration being 67%. The highest rate of registration is in the Northern state with 98.3% and the lowest rate is in Central Darfur with only 30.9% of children registered.
UNICEF works in Sudan to ensure Sudanese children have appropriate registration. In 2019, UNICEF registered over 175,000 children in states with low registration rates like East Darfur, Gedaref, North Darfur and White Nile.
Child Labor and Overwhelmed Schools
Past political instability in Sudan led to a struggling economy. Because of this, many families struggle financially causing children to leave school to support their families. The government banned child labor but often leaves the ban unenforced in the informal sector. About 25% of Sudanese children participate in child labor. Common jobs for children are trading and carpentry. In Khartoum, Sudan, children earn $1 to $1.50 per day.
Of all Sudanese children, aged 5-13, 3 million of them do not attend school. Although Sudanese law ensures free education, headmasters at schools often charge a fee meaning families cannot afford school to send their children to school.
In addition to children leaving school due to their families’ financial concerns, poverty overwhelmed Sudan’s school system. UNICEF’s Ministry of Education reported that Sudan built its school system to hold only 60% of the children which left 40% of children without the opportunity to receive an education. The government does not have the resources to accommodate all Sudanese children. Beginning in 2015, The African Development Bank (AfDB) implemented a project in Sudan that works to improve learning conditions by enhancing teaching capacity and developing technology training. AfDB plans to complete this project by the end of 2021.
Child Protection Programme
Within the past few decades, Sudan increased its Human Development Index and transitioned to a lower-middle-income country. While Sudan accomplished major developments, child poverty in Sudan continues to be an issue. UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme (CPP) in Sudan is making strides toward relieving child poverty in Sudan. CPP began in 2018 and plans to achieve results by the end of 2021. One way UNICEF accomplishes this is by working with national and state governments in Sudan to ensure that it appropriately meets the budgetary needs for children’s health, education and social protection. The program plans to ensure all children in Sudan have protection by offering care services and social support. Thus far, CPP provided services to over 1 million children.
UNICEF’s CPP utilizes the ‘whole child’ approach. The ‘whole child’ approach acknowledges that children need protection throughout their childhood, from infancy to teenagehood.
The ‘whole child’ approach recognizes that Sudanese teens face violence and danger because of the ongoing conflict. UNICEF’s CPP in Sudan intends to support Sudanese children who the armed conflict affected. In 2019, CPP provided 1,039,769 children with child protection services. CPP increased the number of social service workers in Sudan from eight to 12 per 100,000 children. Social service workers collaborate with the Ministries of Social Welfare and Justice to protect children from violence. In all, UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme works to form an environment free of violence and neglect, that supports all Sudanese children. Organizations, like UNICEF, continue to advance Sudan toward a country free of child poverty.
While child poverty in Sudan continues to evoke concern, the country has progressed and will continue to do so in the future as organizations, like UNICEF, address crucial problems affecting Sudan’s children.
– Bailey Lamb