Report Examines African Government Funding For Child Development

“Tanzania, Mozambique and Niger spend the most on child wellbeing in Africa – with Sudan, Angola and Burundi at the bottom of the table,” according to an African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) report, which was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday at the opening of the Fourth International Policy Conference on the African Child, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports (12/7).

“The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2011: Budgeting for Children reviewed the budget performance of 52 African governments between 2006-2008 focusing on spending in sectors that most directly impact on children,” according to an ACPF press release. Algeria, Cape Verde, Gabon, Senegal, the Seychelles, South Africa and Tunisia join Mozambique, Niger and Tanzania to “make up the category of best performers allocating the maximum of their available resources to children,” the release adds. “At the opposite end, the low performers identified in the Performance Index for Budgeting for Children developed by ACPF include Sudan, Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. These countries scored low due to lower levels of investment in sectors benefiting children, the decline of these allocations over the years and relatively high military expenditure.” 

The report also examined “the four key sectors affecting children in Africa … health, education, early childhood development and social protection,” according to the release. “Whilst the last ten years have witnessed encouraging improvements in child health in many African countries with increased immunisation coverage, improved nutritional status and reductions in infant mortality, Africa still has a relatively low level of investment. Most countries invested only between 4-6% of GDP in health in 2008, well below the commitment made at Abuja in 2001 to spend 15% of national budgets on health. Eight years on, only four countries have reached that target – Liberia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia” (12/7).

“The research clearly shows that the sheer wealth of a country does not determine the level of commitment to budgeting for children,” said David Mugawe, ACPF’s executive director, DPA/M&C writes. Mugawe added, “Rather, it is a case of political will being translated into action and prioritising children in national budgets.”

According to the report, the global economic downturn affected government funding for children, which resulted in “families skipping meals and reducing school enrolment, as well as an increase in child prostitution,” the news service writes (12/7). In addition, the report “highlights the challenges in monitoring governments’ budgets as in the majority of African countries the process lacks transparency with limited participation by the wider public, including children,” the press release states. This was one of three areas of discussion the report identified for the conference. The others include prioritizing children’s rights and wellbeing and investment in early childhood development (12/7).

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