The Convention on the Rights of Children which started 25 years ago in 1989 charts the progress of children from infancy to childhood to adulthood and along the way there are so many challenges that can only be resolved when media, civil society, governments and all stakeholders address them collectively.
Unicef Namibia Chief of Health, Myo-Zin Nyunt was speaking when he presented the State of the World’s Children Overview of key issues affecting children in southern Africa during a two-day regional meeting of ‘Children and Media’ partners summit here on Friday.
The summit was hosted by MISA regional secretariat and supported by the Save the Children International.
Mr Myo-Zin explained that one of the strengths of Unicef is to collect data through its sister agencies which is published annually on key areas affecting children globally.
According to statistics from 1990 to 2012 to be published later this year, the number of children under five dying every year has reduced from 90 million to 6.5 million per year globally. Although there is still a lot of unfinished business in some areas such statistics on early marriages at 11 percent which indicate that the trend is not reducing.
Mr Myo-Zin said children need to be protected from exploitation and abuse. Zambia recorded the highest percentage at 41 percent of child labour in the region which was attributed to mining and agriculture. He implored the children, parents and civil society to speak on behalf of vulnerable children to push for better rights.
Although most countries in the region have attained the status of lower or middle income they are not faring well compared to countries in other regions, between 35 to 40 percent of children are stunted representing one in every 3.5 children.
As a result such children will not be productive adults economically in their respective countries.
Some countries have attained reasonable levels in the provision of water but are still lagging behind in issues of sanitation. People are forced to use the bush because they lack proper sanitation facilities which lead to the spread of diarrhea, malnutrition and child deaths.
He urged children to take advantage of youth parliaments and other initiatives to lobby their respective governments to have their voices heard by highlighting problems affecting them. He gave an example of how children in Uganda use mobile phones to report truant teachers, saying this could be replicated throughout the region to create awareness.
Mr. Myo-Zin said there was urgent need for children through their youth parliaments to hold leaders accountable by entering into social contracts with them to ensure that they perform once they are elected into office, as opposed to situations where most leaders do not fulfill their campaign promises.
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