Poverty, illiteracy and early deaths await world’s most disadvantaged children: UNICEF global report

Uganda needs to focus efforts in its poorest communities to achieve its Sustainable Development targets

Uganda needs to reduce its under-five mortality rate in poor communities by 6.8% per year to enable it to realize the 2030 target of 25 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to a UNICEF global report released today.

The State of the World’s Children 2016, UNICEF’s annual flagship report indicates that to fully realize the target in Uganda, the reduction rate for under five mortality in poorer communities will have greater impact than among rich communities, which needs to decrease by 2% less than in poor communities at 4.8% per year.

“Under-five mortality should continue to decline for all children. But in order to reach the child survival targets, mortality rates for children from the poorest households will have to fall much more rapidly than the rates for those from the wealthiest households,” the report reads in part.


Currently, the under-five mortality rate is 90 deaths per 1,000 live births while child poverty is at 55% for under-fives. Child poverty rates are much higher in Northern Uganda with the lowest rates in Central and Eastern Regions.

Based on current global trends, 69 million children will die from mostly preventable causes by 2030. In Uganda, every day, 52 children die of pneumonia, 42 from malaria and 33 from diarrhoea.

The report further reveals that 167 million children across the world will live in poverty, and 750 million women will have been married as children by 2030, the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals – unless the world focuses more on the plight of its most disadvantaged children.

To lift the world’s poorest children out of poverty, governments, donors, businesses and international organisations have been tasked to accelerate efforts to address the needs of the most disadvantaged children first so that no one is left behind.

UNICEF’s Representative in Uganda, Ms. Aida Girma said, “In many cases, the constraints on reaching these children are not technical. They are a matter of political commitment and collective will. They are a matter of resources. If we all join forces, we can address the inequity and inequality that hundreds of thousands of children across Uganda currently experience.”

The report states that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty globally, but highlights that this progress has been neither even nor fair.

At current trends, the report projects, by 2030, sub-Saharan Africa will account for:

Nearly half of the 69 million children who will die before their fifth birthday from mostly preventable causes;

More than half of the 60 million children of primary school age who will still be out of school; and 9 out of 10 children living in extreme poverty.

Although education plays a unique role in levelling the playing field for children, the number of children who do not attend school has increased since 2011, with a significant proportion of those who do go to school not adequately learning. About 124 million children today do not go to primary and lower-secondary school, and almost 2 in 5 who do finish primary school have not learned how to read, write or do simple arithmetic.

Addressing the challenges in education, especially quality education, requires interventions in early childhood. According to the report, there is evidence that early childhood education can prepare children from the most disadvantaged homes for greater success when they enter primary school.

In Uganda, an integrated Early Childhood Development policy was recently passed by Cabinet, early childhood development has been specified as a critical component of building Uganda’s future labour force in NDP 2, and it is a flagship programme of UNICEF’s 2016-2020 Country Programme of Cooperation with the Government.

“By investing in the most disadvantaged and marginalized children right from the moment of their conception, we know we can have a major impact on the future of millions of Ugandan children’s lives and, as a result, the achievement of Uganda’s Vision 2040,” Girma said.

Download the detailed report and other multimedia content at:

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