Child Poverty in Ghana

Theme:
  • Child Poverty
Pages: 59
Year of Publication: 2009
Country: Ghana

A human rights approach to development broadens the traditional economic definition of poverty based on income to encompass the powerlessness and deprivation of capabilities of people to assert their rights and claim their entitlements (UN 2002a). Poverty is the most pervasive root cause of such lack of power and deprivation for children and young people in terms of participation in decisions that affect their lives and access to the economic resources and social services of their country.

Poverty may be defined broadly in terms of structural deprivations that limit people’s ability to realize their human rights and meet their basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, shelter, healthcare, education and information. Extreme poverty places people, particularly children, in intolerable forms of severe deprivation, vulnerability and exclusion. This definition goes beyond the narrower view that usually gets more attention from policy makers and academics and which defines poverty as low income relative to the national average.

States as primary duty bearers have an obligation to ensure that children do not live in dehumanizing conditions of poverty. Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) requires that "States Par ties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. " When the world leaders and children met to review progress made in the implementation of children’s rights at the 27th Special Session of the United Nations on Children held in May 2002, there was consensus that despite some notable improvements, poverty remained the single biggest obstacle to meeting the needs and protecting the rights of children (UN 2002b: para 18). When poverty excludes children from enjoying their rights to quality health care and nutrition, education and protection, it locks them into a cycle that extends to the next generation.

In Africa, poverty undermines the strong social and cultural foundations which place children "in a privileged position at the centre of family and community life" as noted in the Preamble of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC, 1990). Poverty in childhood has long-term implications for the future of growing children in terms of their education, health and other outcomes including employment and earnings. It ultimately impacts on national development as persistent deprivation curtails the human potential and social capital of generations.

Progress has been made in the continent over the last decade in the struggle to reduce poverty. The numbers of children who attend and graduate from primary school have been increasing and more and more children are covered with essential child survival and development programmes. Most countries have passed laws to protect children from harm and exploitation (World Bank, 2008; African Union 2007). Ghana is no exception to this experience. The country has had considerable success in reducing overall poverty levels in the last 15 years. This has impacted positively on children. However, as elsewhere in the continent, the progress has been slow and uneven and is often thwarted by high rates of population growth, HIV/AIDS, inadequate resources and weak implementing institutions.

Language: English
Published by: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Author: Agnes Akosua Aidoo
Located in: Publications
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