The nation of Chad is a victim of extreme poverty with a national poverty rate of 42% as of 2018. The impact of poverty in Chad is widespread, leaving innocent children born into these unfortunate circumstances extremely vulnerable. This article will outline five key facts to know about child poverty in Chad.
5 Facts about Child Poverty in Chad
- Population: As of 2021, 46% of Chad’s population was aged between 0 and 14 years, making it one of the world’s youngest populations. While a young population can be an opportunity for economic growth because of a plentiful supply of potential workers for the future, there are also drawbacks. For one, a more youthful population means that a large proportion of the population has a high dependency on their elders. Many children rely on a few adults to provide for their needs. As an impoverished country, the little resources that are available are inadequate. Moreover, young children should be gaining their education but families cannot afford to not let the youth work. In addition, a younger population will result in a future population increase due to greater rates of procreation.
- Education: The PASEC 2014 found that the rate of illiteracy among the youth in Chad was approximately 70%. When looking at women aged 15-24, this number jumps to 77%. Furthermore, 34.3% of children aged 6-11 are out of school and more than 800,000 aged 9-14 do not go to school at all. These statistics are alarming as a lack of education limits the youth’s likelihood of future success and their chances of breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Humanitarian crises in Sudan, the Central African Republic and Nigeria impacted Chad’s failing education system, leading to over 600,000 refugee children also needing schooling in Chad. It is also important to acknowledge that three out of four pupils that do have access to schooling are supervised by teachers whose highest level of education does not go above secondary school because of Chad’s minimal access to higher education, technical education and professional training. However, there are projects that intend to rectify this problem. The Chad Improving Learning Outcomes Project aims to increase access to primary education. Its work seeks to simultaneously boost access to schooling while also increasing the quality of teaching in reading, writing and numeracy. The World Bank estimates that 2.8 million students enrolled in public primary schools will benefit from an increase of 31,500 teachers and staff. Roughly 3.2 million students overall will experience these benefits firsthand.
- Child Labor: The economic difficulties that families face in Chad mean that many children are forced to work to help provide for their families. Not only does this mean missing out on their right to an education, but these children are also subject to harsh conditions. The children of Chad often experience the worst forms of child labor such as cattle herding and domestic work, which sometimes leads to human trafficking and further exacerbates child poverty in Chad. They work long hours with little pay and no food while also facing threats of abuse, discrimination and prostitution. Organizations such as UNICEF continue to support child protection systems to try to prevent the violence, abuse and exploitation that many children face.
- Child Marriages: Chadian children are not only victims of the workforce but also subject to early marriage. In goal 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, Chad committed to eliminating child, early and forced marriage by 2030. The nation also adopted the co-sponsored 2015 Human Rights Council Resolution and the 2013 U.N. General Assembly Resolution on child marriage. However, these attempts have not yet eliminated the practice of marrying off young girls. The legal age of marriage is 15 for girls but in customary law, it is 13 years, which goes against the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the 2015 EDS MICS report, 70% of girls under 18 and 29% of girls under 15 are married. It comes as little surprise then that Chad has the third highest rate of child marriage in the world. Religion and displacement are at the center of child marriage in Chad. Preventing child marriage is also another benefit of boosting education in Chad because of the correlation between higher education levels and later marriage.
- Health Care: Access to health care in Chad poses one of the most substantial challenges to Chadians. According to UNICEF, 2.7 million children in Chad are currently facing malnutrition. This is largely a result of internal displacement and environmental conditions depleting crop harvests, leading to increased food shortages. Additionally, due to a lack of sanitation, drinking water and health care in rural areas, roughly 209 of every 1,000 children die annually. Diseases such as pneumonia are primary causes of child mortality, and work towards increasing the number of vaccinations is occurring. In 2021, the proportion of children who had received three doses of vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis increased to 58% – up from 50% in 2019.
Child poverty in Chad continues to run rampant with the youth facing harsh conditions, unfair lifestyles and limited health care. Child poverty is not only a breach of human rights but it also strips children of their innocence and forces them to grow up too quickly.
– Ruby Wallace