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Opinion

If you ignore children, forget about achieving zero poverty

This post is written by Geeta Bandi-Phillips who works as External Relations Manager at World Vision UK. This post is based of the World Vision recommendations to the Open Working Group on child poverty.

The Post 2015 process is picking up pace and there seems to be a new energy and hype gripping the international development community. These are invigorating and exciting times as we can see the finishing line and want to cross it collectively with a better future plan for our people and the planet.

As far as the current Post 2015 process goes, the Open Working Group (OWG) is doing the most difficult job of shaping up the Sustainable Development Focus Areas while juggling the ever changing member state positions. As OWG does the balance act between the people, the planet and priorities for one last time, some of the most crucial issues have started to become obscure and are at the risk of falling off the list. One of them is child poverty.

World Vision UK believes that in further articulating the Focus Areas, the OWG could benefit from taking a lifecycle approach which recognises that there are key moments in life that determine whether children have the opportunity to thrive.  The first thousand days of each child’s life is the critical foundation on which their potential and that of their societies is built. If lost, it cannot be recovered. So the next development framework must attend to those moments (health, nutrition and protection in the first 1000 days, assuring functional literacy & numeracy, creating spaces for children to participate and be heard, livelihoods preparation and jobs) or it will not deliver sustainable development or eradicate absolute poverty.

The foundation for healthy, safe, sustainable and prosperous societies begins with healthy, safe, educated and cared for children. For the Post-2015 development agenda to pull the children out of poverty and to improve their wellbeing, it must build on the MDGs and go further to finish the job.

  • Poverty persists, and rising inequality has made it starker. As the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, the most vulnerable people are the worst affected. Children are particularly vulnerable and need specific and focussed attention. If we want to eradicate poverty then the development efforts driven by the new goals must transform the systems that keep children poor.
  • Of all the world’s children, the most vulnerable are those in fragile and conflict-affected states. Millions of them live in fear for their lives and safety, have no access to the most basic nutrition, health care and education, and face little hope of a better future. The MDGs failed these children, and we lost the chance to save a generation. If their lives are not transformed, we will fail to eradicate poverty again.

To avoid falling to the usual trap again, World Vision recommends:

  • The post-2015 framework should aim to get to zero in eliminating preventable deaths of children under 5 (including targets to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths) and eliminating hunger and malnutrition (with a target of <5% of stunted children).
  • The new set of goals must explicitly address peace, governance, inclusion and accountability in fragile and conflict affected contexts. They must be designed to deal with the most extreme inequality and vulnerability. The framework must prioritise targets for children in fragile contexts.
  • The new framework should commit to ending all forms of violence against children, with specific targets on protecting children affected by conflict; ending child marriage and the worst forms of child labour; and achieving universal birth registration.
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