According to a survey done by Childhood Poverty Research in collaboration with Save the Children and other partners, it says that Over 600 million children world-wide live in absolute poverty - an estimated 1 in 4 children with the vast majority living in developing countries. There are still children who die every year from preventable diseases and will not celebrate their fifth birthday. We are not talking about hundreds but millions of children. With this in mind, the world still spends millions of dollars on high 'powered meetings' and conferences talking about 'MDGs' which were set by the 'exclusive club.'
We are in 2012 and even though there are reports that progress have been made in achieving MDGs, the process is painfully slow and commitment is fading away. It is understood that, the 'exclusive club' is changing brand MDGs into SDGs (sustainable development goals). As we are busy re-branding and coming up with more jargons in development, we are losing a generation.
Child poverty is real and its consequences are not only felt in developing countries but 'The big brothers' are also catching the cold. May I ask why London has recently seen increase in youth gangs and knife crimes? One doesn't need a high delegated conference to know the route course of all these.
Street children are piling up in streets of Nairobi. During rush hours, children as young as 3 are always seen begging and grabbing commuters' clothes asking for small change if not food. In Niger, child prostitution is rampant with clients being tourists and wealthy business men. In war torn areas, children are put in the front line fighting for rebels and made to commit gruesome atrocities like killing and raping family members. It is reported that in Rwanda, there are over 60,000 homes headed by children as a result of 1994 genocide. In some of these households, the age of the bread winner is only eleven years old and there may be as many as eight children in a family. In Uganda, Joseph Kony is still using children as soldiers, for sex and house slaves.
I totally appreciate the vision the 'International community' had in setting MDGs but with what has been happening around the world, it is very ill advised to stick to one model. The business community has learnt that 'strategic planning' does not really work and they are adopting 'trial and error' method. Why can't this happen in international development? The world will not achieve MDGs by 2015 and it is safe to say that some societies are finding life more challenging than it were in 2000 when the so called 'goals' were set.
The amounts of energy and resources that have been invested in fighting HIV and AIDS within the last 10 years have been incredible and this proves what can be achieved when energies, commitment and resources are brought together. Why can't the world use the same zeal and zest in fighting child poverty?
Investing in children's needs will help reduce stress communities are facing and will promote family empowerment. For instance, supporting early childhood centres in poor communities where women can live their children during the day and look for work will mitigate child labour, investing in schools and provision of adequate learning materials will improve quality and increase enrolment numbers. It is shocking that in this century, there are children still sitting on stones and learning under trees. They call that their class.
As one of the most powerless groups in society, children often bear the physical and emotional costs of poverty and they need to be protected. The world has enough resources to fight child poverty and make 'children be children,' what is needed is commitment.
Follow Kevin Mbewa Anyango on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mkevoh