DECEMBER 8, 2009: Child Welfare Not Yet Good Enough

Child Welfare Not Yet Good Enough

SOURCE: New Vision



Kampala — THE African Report on Child Wellbeing 2008 has classified Uganda as a "fairly child-friendly" country and ranked it 21st among 52 African countries. According to the report, the child-friendliness index assesses the extent to which African governments respect and protect children and ensure their wellbeing.

The ranking and the report's assessment of Uganda being "fairly child-friendly" may be flattering but all those in authority and the civil society ought to recognise that a lot still needs to be done.

The Universal Primary and Secondary Education programmes are great but their implementation and student drop-out rate are still cause for concern. Defilement and child abuse dominate court cases in the country. Last year, a survey established that 40, 000 girls are defiled annually by their teachers and that is only an estimate based on known cases.

The situation could be worse Kampala is teeming with 'street children - some as young as two years, who have nowhere to sleep and forage for their survival from rubbish bins.

Reports on the state of the world and Uganda's population for 2009 published by the United Nations Population Fund and the Population Secretariat paint a grim picture.

Currently, Uganda's infant mortality rate stands at 76 deaths per 1,000 live births. Having many children still remains a status symbol, especially among the rural poor. But the more the children, the more the suffering due to the deprivation of human basic needs.

Girls in particular are affected. Abject poverty makes many parents and guardians turn their daughters into commodities.

Some parents negotiate with defilers to settle cases out of court. In addition, cases of children who have been ritually sacrificed have escalated in the last two years. Clearly, Uganda needs to improve its child-friendliness index by addressing the most salient issues concerning children's welfare.