Eradicating child poverty

Following on an international conference held in late May at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters in Abuja, a group of experts commissioned by ECOWAS, UNICEF and the ILO, launched an appeal urging West African political authorities to eradicate child poverty. Although progress has been made since the 2003 publication of the UNICEF global report on child poverty, the situation remains worrying in most countries in the region. A signatory to the statement, the UNICEF Regional Advisor for social policy, Gustavo Newbie, explained that addressing the issue requires not only reducing income poverty but also overcoming the hardships poor children in the region endure in the areas of education, health, nutrition, hygiene and access to information. While health crises like the Ebola epidemic, natural disasters and conflicts have contributed to maintaining a high level of child poverty, above all it is inequalities and social exclusion that sustain the phenomenon. This means that economic policies on employment, working conditions, wage levels and social protection can produce a significant structural effect in the fight against child poverty. Mamadou Traoré, ECOWAS Commissioner for macroeconomic policies, supported this approach by calling on countries of the region to develop a roadmap and policies for social protection and the eradication of child poverty.