United Nations MDG Report 2011: The most vulnerable children are left behind


United Nations MDG Report 2011: The most vulnerable children are left behind

Global News 00:18

Aqual comforts her six-month-old grandson, whose height is being measured, at a UNICEF-supported malnutrition clinic in the town of Kuajok, capital of Warrap State in Southern Sudan. The boy and his twin sibling are among more than 300 malnourished children currently being treated at the clinic. The children and their grandmother, their sole caretaker, have come to Kuajok from Khartoum, the countrys capital. They are among some 14,700 people who were displaced during the civil war and have returned to the area following the January referendum. The twins, who each weighed only 4.7 kilogrammes when they first arrived in Kuajok, now each weigh 5.3 kilogrammes.  From 9 to 16 March 2011, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador (United Kingdom) Martin Bell visited Southern Sudan to raise awareness on issues affecting children and their families at this historic juncture. The visit comes two months after the landmark January 2011 referendum in Southern Sudan, which overwhelmingly endorsed the creation of an independent country for the region. The new nation is slated for creation on 9 July this year. The referendum was part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ending the civil war, which killed two million people, displaced four million, and decimated social services. The situation of children and women in the region remains critical: One of every seven children dies before age five, and one in six Southern Sudanese women dies from pregnancy-related causes. Only an estimated 10 per cent of children are fully vaccinated, and fewer than half of all children have completed five years of primary education. Millions of people continue to be affected by insecurity, including in Western Equatoria State, which borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From there, rebels from the Ugandan Lords Resistance Army (LRA) are continuing to attack, abduct and rape villagers on both sides of the border. Additionally, the Abyei area, which straddles disputed territory between northern and southern parts of Sudan, is also experiencing fighting. Ms. Farrow and Mr. Bell visited the Abyei area, where they met with children and women displaced by recent clashes. In Western Equatoria, they visited a transit centre for children rescued from the LRA, primary and maternal health care facilities and a support site for people affected by HIV/AIDS. In Warrap State, they also met with families who had been displaced during the civil war and were returning home. In Juba, capital of Southern Sudan, they met with government officials and representatives from UN, NGO and other partners.NEW YORK/ GENEVA/ HONG KONG, 7 July 2011 – Significant strides towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been made, yet reaching all the goals by the 2015 deadline remains challenging because the world’s poorest are being left behind, the United Nations MDG Report 2011 says.

The MDGs can only be achieved if all children, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, geographical location and household income, benefit from progress. The report shows however that the world’s poorest children are being left out.

While the number of deaths of children under the age of five declined from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009,the poorest children have made the slowest progress in terms of improved nutrition and survival.

In 2009, nearly a quarter of children in the developing world were underweight, with the poorest children most affected. Children from the poorest households in the developing world have more than twice the risk of dying before their fifth birthday as children in the richest households.

Some of the poorest countries have made the greatest strides in education. For example, Burundi, Madagascar, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo and Tanzania have achieved or are nearing the goal of universal primary education.

Whether a child has the opportunity to go to school depends, however, largely on their individual circumstances. The report finds that being poor, female or living in a conflict zone increases the probability that a child will be out of school. Worldwide, among children of primary school age not enrolled in school, 42 per cent – 28 million – live in poor countries affected by conflict.

An estimated 1.1 billion people in urban areas and 723 million people in rural areas gained access to an improved drinking water source over the period 1990-2008. Progress, however, has been uneven, the report notes. Despite major improvements, large gaps remain between and within countries, and efforts need to be intensified to achieve equitable access.

A teacher watches as a boy, at the head of a queue of small children, washes his hands with soap and chlorine-treated water at a hand-washing station at Ecole Joyeux Lutins in Port-au-Prince, the capital. A tent classroom is visible behind them. The school, with support from UNICEF, was rebuilt as a semi-permanent structure after the original building was destroyed in the earthquake. Nearly 130 quake-proof, semi-permanent schools (serving more than 30,000 children) have been built in the capital with UNICEF assistance.  From 7 to 8 June 2011, international golf star Rory McIlroy, in his first visit as a UNICEF National Ambassador for Ireland, travelled to Haiti to draw attention to the ongoing needs of children and families as a result the devastating January 2010 earthquake, and to view UNICEF-supported programmes. The quake killed 220,000 people and destroyed vital infrastructure; nearly 18 months after the disaster, over 810,000 people remain displaced. The situation is exacerbated by a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 5,000 people and sickened over 291,700. Mr. McIlroy met with quake-affected children and families and visited UNICEF-supported programme sites in and around Port-au-Prince, the capital. He visited a rebuilt school, where he participated in a hygiene education session on the importance of proper hand-washing to prevent the spread of cholera; a health and nutrition clinic providing cholera treatment services in addition to information on proper nutrition and feeding, health check-ups and growth-monitoring; and a child-friendly space providing a safe play environment for nearly 200 children. UNICEF supports more than 1,000 cholera prevention and treatment facilities throughout the country, and is rehabilitating water systems in Port-au-Prince and in vulnerable rural areas and distributing cholera prevention supplies in schools. UNICEF is also helping to build child-friendly, earthquake-proof schools; supporting over 350 child-friendly spaces providing safe play areas for more than 94,000 children daily; and is supporting nutrition screenings and other services for children and nutrition training for paediatric staff. A United Nations consolidated appeal for US $915.3 million, launched November 2010 to provide essential humanitarian assistance in the country, remains largely unfunded: Just 24 per cent of the requested funds have been received to date. UNICEFs portion of the appeal is US $124.8 million. Mr. McIlroy was appointed a UNICEF Ambassador in March of this year. On 4 May, a woman exits a shower stall at the Danane 2 camp for people displaced by the conflict, in Danane, a town in Dix-Huit Montagnes Region. An estimated 800 people continue to live in the camp because of continued insecurity in their home areas. The stalls bear the UNICEF logo.  By 5 May 2011 in Côte dIvoire, hundreds of thousands remain displaced by the violence that erupted after the 28 November 2010 presidential election. More than 320,000 people fled the country during the conflict, and many more were displaced within the country. Fighting abated after the 11 April arrest of former president Laurent Gbagbo, allowing international humanitarian operations to resume in many conflict-affected areas, and the security situation continues to improve. Still, lingering instability  including reports of increasing sexual violence and harassment by armed men  has delayed the return of many refugees and internally displaced people. Many hospitals and health facilities have been unable to operate properly, lacking essential drugs, equipment and staff, and millions lack access to sufficient food and water. On 16 April, for the first time since November, UNICEF was able to airlift 32 metric tonnes of medical, nutritional, educational, water and sanitation supplies into the country, and on 26 April, the Minister of Education ordered schools to reopen. With partners, UNICEF is also providing safe drinking water where needed; distributing fortified biscuits to children and pregnant and lactating women; screening children for malnutrition; conducting a back-to-school campaign aimed at a million children; conducting a polio vaccination campaign targeting 700,000 children; and conducting a measles vaccination campaign targeting 1.5 million children. UNICEF also continues to assist Ivorian refugees in surrounding countries. The Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for Côte dIvoire and neighbouring countries requires US$160 million, only 20 per cent of which has been funded to date. UNICEFs portion of the appeal is US$17 million.

Advances in sanitation, the report says, often bypass the poor and those living in rural areas More than 2.6 billion people still lack access to toilets or other forms of improved sanitation. And where progress has occurred, it has largely skipped the poor. In Southern Asia, for instance, sanitation coverage for the poorest 40 per cent of households has hardly increased between 1995 and 2008.

First agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000, the 8 MDGs set worldwide objectives for reducing extreme poverty and hunger, improving health and education, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.

Download full version of UN MDG Report 2011