69 Million Children Will Die by 2030 – UNICEF …..says 167 million will live in poverty
By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed about 69 million children under five years of age will die by 2030 from preventable diseases based on trends if the world refuses to focus more on the plight of its most disadvantaged children around the world.
UNICEF further disclosed that 167 million children will live in poverty, and 750 million women will have been married as children by 2030, the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals.
This was contained in the new UNICEF State of the World’s Children report made available to journalists in Kaduna by Rabiu Musa, Media and External Relations, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, which highlights inequalities around the world and the consequences for the world’s poorest children of which Nigeria is one of the most affected countries in terms of inequalities.
The State of the World’s Children, UNICEF’s annual flagship report, paints a stark picture of what is in store for the world’s poorest children if governments, donors, businesses and international organizations do not accelerate efforts to address their needs.
According to the report, “Denying hundreds of millions of children a fair chance in life does more than threaten their futures – by fueling intergenerational cycles of disadvantage, it imperils the future of their societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
“We have a choice: Invest in these children now or allow our world to become still more unequal and divided.”
“The report notes that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty. Global under-five mortality rates have been more than halved since 1990, boys and girls attend primary school in equal numbers in 129 countries, and the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide is almost half what it was in the 1990s.
“But this progress has been neither even nor fair, the report says. The poorest children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday and to be chronically malnourished than the richest.
“Across much of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children born to mothers with no education are almost 3 times more likely to die before they are 5 than those born to mothers with a secondary education. And girls from the poorest households are twice as likely to marry as children than girls from the wealthiest households.
“Nowhere is the outlook grimmer than in sub-Saharan Africa, where at least 247 million children – or 2 in 3 – live in multidimensional poverty, deprived of what they need to survive and develop, and where nearly 60 per cent of 20- to 24-year-olds from the poorest fifth of the population have had less than four years of schooling. At current trends, the report projects, by 2030, sub-Saharan Africa will account for.”
Nigeria has the largest absolute gap in the world in terms of mortality rates between the richest and poorest children. It is in the Top 5 most unequal countries in terms of access to education for the poorest and richest children. And it is in the Top 20 countries in terms of extreme poverty rates, with almost 54 per cent of the population living on less than $1.90 a day.
The report continue, “Although education plays a unique role in levelling the playing field for children, the number of children who do not attend school has increased since 2011, and a significant proportion of those who do go to school are not learning. About 124 million children today do not go to primary- and lower-secondary school, and almost 2 in 5 who do finish primary school have not learned how to read, write or do simple arithmetic.
“The report points to evidence that investing in the most vulnerable children can yield immediate and long-term benefits. Cash transfers, for example, have been shown to help children stay in school longer and advance to higher levels of education. On average, each additional year of education a child receives increases his or her adult earnings by about 10 per cent. And for each additional year of schooling completed, on average, by young adults in a country, that country’s poverty rates fall by 9 per cent.
“Inequity is neither inevitable, nor insurmountable, the report argues. Better data on the most vulnerable children, integrated solutions to the challenges children face, innovative ways to address old problems, more equitable investment and increased involvement by communities – all these measures can help level the playing field for children.”