Plan warns African leaders that rural parents are ‘giving up’ in the face of poverty and rising prices.

African leaders’ efforts to improve the lives of children across the continent are failing in rural areas, according to children.

Increased poverty
Children across rural Africa who took part in a Plan study said things were getting worse, not better, as families face increased levels of poverty and parents struggle to cope with rising prices and high levels of unemployment.

Children have their say
Plan asked 1,000 children across 30 African countries how their lives have changed as a result of the African Union’s 2001 initiative to make Africa Fit for Children.

The results were presented to African Union ministers and development experts at the second Pan-African Forum on Children in Cairo chaired by Suzanne Mubarek, First Lady of Egypt.

Parents “giving up”
Children talked of poorer health and education services as well as lower incomes. They also spoke of their parents’ apathy and of them “giving up” as a result of the increasing hardship.

Rural children were particularly concerned that there were too few schools capable of educating disabled young people and that state schools were vastly inferior to private schools attended by children from well-off families. All the children surveyed identified the continent’s economic difficulties as a major cause of increased child labor and trafficking.

Legislation failing
Legislation intended to strengthen children’s rights has been passed in most countries but children said this has so far had little impact on their lives.

Addressing the forum’s opening sessions, Tom Miller, Plan’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “This is a wake up call for Africa — children tell us they are being left behind. Despite the efforts of African Union governments a large number of children have not seen any benefit in their lives. Worse still, many feel things are going backward. The message is clear; we can’t expect to improve the lives of children if we don’t involve the children themselves.”

Read the report "Africa fit for children" {pdf, 1MB}

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Rural Africa not fit for children

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