Why children should be the focus of development


A UNICEF-sponsored study by the University of Bristol and the London School of Economics concluded that over 1 billion children – more than half the children in developing countries – suffer from at least one form of severe deprivation. Such as:

  • One in every three children in the developing world – over 500 million children – has no access whatsoever to sanitation facilities; one in five has no access to safe water.
  • Over 140 million children in developing countries – 13 per cent of those aged 7 to 18 years – have never attended school. This rate is 32 per cent among girls in sub-Saharan Africa, where 27 per cent of boys also miss out on schooling, and 33 per cent among rural children in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • AIDS has killed one or both parents of an estimated 15 million children worldwide; 12 million of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of orphaned children is projected to exceed 25 million by the end of the decade.


Another important reason to focus on children is that The Millennium Development Goals set priorities for children. Though the Goals are for all humankind, they are primarily about children. Why:

  • Because six of the eight goals relate directly to children. Meeting the last two will also make critical improvements in their lives.
  • Because meeting the Goals is most critical for children. Children are most vulnerable when people lack essentials like food, water, sanitation and health care. They are the first to die when basic needs are not met.
  • Because children have rights. Each child is born with the right to survival, food and nutrition, health and shelter, an education, and to participation, equality and protection – rights agreed to, among others, in the 1989 international human rights treaty the Convention on the Rights of a Child. The Convention has been ratified by 192 states, every country in the world except two. The Millennium Development Goals must be met for these basic human rights to be realized.
  • Because reducing poverty starts with children. Helping children reach their full potential is also investing in the very progress of humanity. For it is in the crucial first years that interventions make the biggest difference in a child’s physical, intellectual and emotional development. And investing in children means achieving development goals faster, as children constitute a large percentage of the world’s poor.


Source: UNICEF