The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating poverty by 2030 remains a distant reality with a new report showing at least 300 million or two-thirds of African children are poor.
The report by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) found that 43 per cent of all poor children in the world live in Africa.
Children were found to be more vulnerable to poverty both in terms of incidence and intensity than adults, with the highest rate for any age-group in 39 sub-Saharan countries found to be those under 18 years.
Even more worrying is that children aged below nine years are the poorest, the index shows.
“These figures are truly staggering,” says the OPHI of the data for Africa and South Asia, where the incidence of poverty among children is about 66 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, much higher than in any other part of the globe.
In South Sudan, Niger and Ethiopia, at least nine out of every 10 children were found to be poor.
“These new results are deeply disturbing as they show that children are disproportionally poor when the different dimensions of poverty are measured,” said Dr Sabina Alkire, the director of OPHI.
The UN recognises eradication of poverty in all its forms as the primary goal among the 17 SDGs to transform the world by 2030. According to the UN, one in five people in developing regions still live on less than $1.25 a day.
The findings complement a joint World Bank-UN Children’s Fund report released in October last year which showed that sub-Saharan Africa not only had the highest number of children living in extreme poverty at 49 per cent, but is also home to the largest share of the world’s extremely poor children at 51 per cent.
“It’s almost a double blow — firstly, that children are twice as likely as an adult to live in extreme poverty, but also that children are much less likely than an adult to cope with extreme poverty because of stunting, infant mortality and early childhood development,” said Unicef’s deputy executive director, Justin Forsyth.
Fred Nyabera, director of Arigatou International’s “End Child Poverty Initiative” said that in East Africa, poverty remains a challenge because most actors fail to address its multidimensional aspects.
In order to address the structural root causes of poverty, “ we must move beyond conventional social, political and economic approaches and also deal with the behavioural and attitudinal changes,” he said.