Child issues priority for Malawi government – Kalinde

Minister of Gender, Child and Community Development Anita Kalinde has emphasized on the need for proper handling of child issues with top priority in order to uplift children’s rights in the country.

Speaking when she launched the State of the World’s Children 2012 Report at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on Tuesday, the minister said children in the country are facing numerous challenges like poverty that remain unresolved.

The report was launched under the theme ‘Children in an Urban World.’

Kalinde: Child rights priority of President Banda government

“The living conditions of the children are not conducive especially in the urban areas. Children living in towns face a lot of hardships than those in rural areas. Some are being forced to beg while others are under the guard of criminal gangs.”

“High poverty levels hinder the livelihood of children. Most children are being forced to contribute to their family income. Other than begging, there are also big issues with child labour affecting them,” Kalinde said.

The minister also said lack education infrastructure, both in the rural and urban areas, is adversely contributing to poor child development, citing shortage of school blocks and hostels among other infrastructures.

She said it’s her ministry’s responsibility to see to it that children have access to good water and be able to attain feeding programs at school.

She said there are child centres across the country and national adoption, which she said should help children in need.

UNICEF representative, Carrie Auer, said the 2012 report addresses the conditions children living in urban areas face.

“An increasing number of children grow up in slams and shanty town yet poverty is becoming more and more. Children living in slums and informal settlements are excluded from vital services and robbed of chances to reach their full potential.”

“Cities offer children advantage of urban schools, clinics and heath facilities. Families infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth and children’s needs are not being met,” she said.

Auer called on the need to invest more in the provision of basic services in cities focusing greater attention on children’s greatest need.

“Priority should be given to the most disadvantaged children. Children rights cannot be fulfilled and protected unless local and national governments look beyond the broad averages of development statics and address the poverty and inequality that characterize the lives of so many children in cities,” said Auer.

The State of World’s Children Report is UNICEF flagship publication that closely examines key issues affecting children globally. It was inaugurated in 1996 and covers topics relevant to Malawi such as child labour, nutrition, and early childhood development.

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