Child Poverty – Is there an end in sight?

  For the past few years in Nigeria, the poverty rate has increased continuously that we have managed to overtake India as the poverty capital of the world. This statistic is in many ways alarming and even though it affects all of us as citizens, you can’t help but feel the children whose parents live below the poverty line will be the ones most affected. Child poverty has been a great problem for many countries across the world and many specialists have tried to come up with various theories to help curb child poverty. Many of them believe that improving on the economic status of a country (economic growth and development) will lead to an improvement in the lives of poor families and their children. According to a report for Save the Children titled Child poverty – what drives it and what it means to children across the world, economic growth and development is unlikely to effectively curb child poverty. The report showed – which we agree with and Bethesda stands for – that for child poverty to be truly eradicated, policies and programmes need to directly and explicitly address their needs. The needs in this scenario doesn’t mean just one or more important needs like health and education but must look to encompass every need a child might have. The long-term benefit of better health and education will be overridden by other sustained needs they might have. Through research we have come to see that for us to be able to eradicate or reduce child poverty we must: –              Provide quality and accessible services particularly for the most deprived children – including in areas such as nutrition, education and health which represent their multidimensional poverty – and drive them to fulfill their potential and end the cycle of poverty. –              Support families and households to have a minimum income and ensure financial barriers don’t prevent children from reaching their potential. Supporting families and household to have a minimum income that will be enough to cater to their needs and not prevent their children from reaching their potential is of utmost importance. Lack of funds or financial barriers in poor families usually push parents to make their children engage in various forms of child labour so as to help improve the family’s finances. At Bethesda we not only provide free quality education for our children, we provide free health services in the communities where our schools are located and we ensure our children are mentored by seasoned professionals. We also follow up with our beneficiaries to ensure they are not forced to or engage in child labour that might derail them from focusing on their goals. In spite of the effort of Bethesda and other similar organizations, the menace of child poverty seems to be increasing. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as technological advancements through social media and real-time reportage has helped to create awareness of the plight of children living in poverty around the world. This has compelled governments, social development organizations and the private sector to roll up their sleeves, and get in the grind. Although some school of thought would posit that most people and organizations only take up highly publicized and sensationalized stories/case, the motive notwithstanding, what is important is that help is coming the way of a poor child/family. We believe that with a concerted effort by the public sector, non-profits and the private sector, an end to child poverty may be in sight.
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