Despite important strides in the fight against poverty over the past two decades with nearly 1.1 billion people escaping extreme poverty since 1990, child poverty remains widespread and persistent, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. From 23-25 October, policymakers, researchers and NGOs will come together to identify solutions for fighting child poverty and inequality in Africa at the Putting Children First conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
As children across the world are most likely to be poor, with 50% of extremely poor children living in sub-Saharan Africa the event aims to build on the momentum of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure that children remain at the centre of the agenda in Africa and other parts of the world.
Agnes Akosua Aidoo, African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), who will be presenting at the event said:
"Poverty affects children in lifelong ways, from malnutrition, poor health, lack of success in school, harmful labour and an overall poor quality of life. Not only is this extremely damaging for children and their families, but it has a lasting and detrimental impact on the prosperity and the wellbeing of their countries. Child poverty is everyone's problem, and national governments should make addressing it their absolute priority."
HE Ms Demitu Hambisa, the Gender Minister for the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ethiopia will also be speaking at the opening session, alongside Leila Pakkala, Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF.
This conference offers a platform for bridging divides across sectors, disciplines and policy, practice and research and an opportunity to share knowledge and experience. Keetie Roelen at Institute of Development Studies explained:
"Responses and solutions to child poverty are both available and affordable. The provision of social protection that has children at the heart, has now been widely tested and proven in many African countries. However, much room and urgency for improvement remains. Learning about what works and innovative solutions for children in poverty are needed, most of all, in places where there is instability, conflict and weak institutional capacity to deliver."
The meeting will be framed around four overarching themes:
- Setting the scene: Who and where are the poor children?
- Child sensitive social protection: Making social protection work for children
- Ensuring access to basic services for all: Reaching and linking the poorest and most marginalised
- Supporting secure transitions to adulthood
Co-hosted by a cross-section of policy, NGO and research organisations, this event will bring a diverse range of perspectives into the discussions:
- Ethiopian Centre for Child Research at Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI)
- Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP)
- ESRC-DFID Impact Initiative
- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
- Ethiopia Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA)
- Global Coalition to End Child Poverty (which includes the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), Institute of Development Studies, Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP), Save the Children, UNICEF and Young Lives)
This conference aims to bridge the gaps between policymakers, practitioners, civil society and researchers in recognition of the importance of and opportunity for using knowledge and evidence generated from well-focused research on children in poverty in Africa to inform the design of more effective and policies programmes - and to address the multi-dimensional and complex challenges of poverty.
Ultimately it aims to 'make evidence matter' for the poorest and most marginalised children. This is in order to inspire action and mobilise champions among policymakers, politicians, civil society and other key decision-makers throughout African societies.