Children and Development

Published on 22nd February 2009

Children are the hardest hit by poverty; it easily ravages their bodies and psyche. The chain of poverty keeps revolving around. It therefore follows that any poverty reduction initiative should begin with children.

Children are the future of tomorrow and their wellbeing should be the yardstick utilized to measure the prosperity of every nation. The way we treat the poor and vulnerable should be our uppermost concern.

Poverty amongst children can be eradicated with political will. The strategies and techniques exist already.

According to statistics from the UNDP Human Development Reports (1998, 1999, 2000) the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined. 20% of the population in the developed nations consumes 86% of the world’s goods. In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% — in 1997, 74 times as much. An analysis of long-term trends shows the distance between the richest and poorest countries was about:

African children: Full of Hope
The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined income of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion.” Of all human rights failures today, those in economic and social areas affect by far the larger number and are the most widespread across the world’s nations and large numbers of people.  Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Africa Asia and the Pacific.

According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.  That is about 210,000 children each week or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year.( Progress of Nations 2000, UNICEF, 2000; Robert E. Black, Saul S Morris, Jennifer Bryce, Where and why are 10 million children dying every year?, The Lancet, Volume 361, Number 9376, 28 June 2003.)

Should World poverty not present us with pressing moral and political questions about responsibility towards those in need? Are the moral claims of the distant needy identical to those of people in need who are within our own personal circle of acquaintance or who belong to our own political community? These facts are alarming considering the fact that millions of dollars are spent by the world’s privileged people on niceties. Should we not then take into cognizance the suffering of the poor bearing in mind that nobody chooses which state or family to be born into? The world is a global village. We are interconnected despite the sovereignty of each state. Should we not then be concerned about the problems of the world and thus call for global justice?

There is a strong need to lift the world poor out of poverty. This must not necessarily be based on humanitarian ventures as earlier argued but rather must be followed with concrete actions. It must do more than raising minimum wages in the Nigerian context. Eradicating poverty must translate to every person having access to education, health creative and productive life and better standards of living.

Children bear the brunt of poverty; therefore, poverty reduction should begin with them.

By Idayat Hassan-Kadir



     


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