By Sylvester Samba.
Sierra Leone Child Poverty Report has been launched in Freetown at the conference room of the Ministry of Finance. The launching ceremony was witnessed by prominent personalities from the following Ministries and international partners; Health and Sanitation, Education, Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Statistics Sierra Leone, UNICEF, United Nations, UN Food and Agricultural Organization and World Food Program.
According to the report, a child is poor if they are denied their basic rights to at least one of the following: nutrition, water, sanitation, health, housing, education and information. The report lamented that 77 percent of Sierra Leonean children are found to be poor. “Deprivation is most prevalent in the housing dimension, with 62 percent of children either living in a dwelling with five or more people per room…The incidence of child poverty is far greater in rural areas than in urban areas…In rural areas, 85 percent of children are found to be poor, while in urban areas 61 percent of children are poor”, the Sierra Leone Child Poverty Report noted.
The report further maintains that, the district with the highest level of child poverty is Pujehun, where 93 percent of children are found to be poor, is in the South. The report stated that, to improve the quality of education and to ensure every Sierra Leonean child has equal access, education policies must focus on expanding access, especially at the basic education level.
In the area of health, the report calls for an increased spending on health in line with the Abuja Declaration of 2001, which calls for 15 percent of total budget to be allocated to health, would go a long way in improving the situation of children.
“There is still a large gap in terms of inequalities between urban and rural communities about current access to safe water sources and sanitation…Providing information to children, particularly adolescents, at the age and time can positively influence their health practices and health-seeking behaviour…Poverty is an underlying factor in the nutrition challenges of children and adult”, the report added.