CAIRO: More than seven million children in Egypt are deprived of one or more of their rights, which include the right to nutrition, water and sanitation facilities, access to basic health care services, shelter, education, participation and protection, according to a study launched Tuesday.
Of these, five million children lack sufficient housing conditions including shelter, water and sanitation, the study, titled “Child Poverty and Disparities in Egypt: Building the Social Infrastructure for Egypt’s Future, said.
Conducted by the Center for Economic and Financial Research and Studies at Cairo University in collaboration with UNICEF, the study also revealed that 1.6 million children under five years old suffer health and food deprivation.
It is the first comprehensive study focusing on both poverty and childhood.
“Investment in children is extremely valuable, no country has developed without investment in children, said Minister of State for Family and Population Moshira Khattab at the launch in Cairo University.
“Children who represent one-third of Egypt’s citizens today should be explicitly considered in any poverty mapping or poverty reduction program, she added.
The study urges public policies to be designed with due consideration to their direct or indirect impact on children.
The study uses a rights-based framework to child poverty that defines poverty as multi-dimensional and not only a lack of income or low consumption. The eight dimensions of poverty studied are income, shelter, food, education, information, health, sanitation and water.
If a child is deprived of one of their rights, the study said, it is likely to affect their ability to exercise other rights.
Results also showed that child deprivation is a growing concern. The number of children living in poverty and extreme poverty is increasing: 23 percent of children under 15 years old are living in income poverty.
It was also found that children are most likely to work when they have parents who are not working.
During the declaration of the Second Decade for the Protection and Welfare of the Egyptian Child, 2000 to 2010, budget allocations for authorities benefiting children have grown at one third of the growth rate of budget allocations for other authorities.
“One in four children lives deprived of one or more of their rights to be children and enjoy their childhood, the study said.
However, it was also found that income poverty and deprivation measures are not synonymous, but it is children in income poor households that are more severely deprived.
Poverty in Egypt is also regional. The 2008/09 reported income poverty rates for households with children are 30.5 percent in rural areas compared to 12.6 percent in urban areas.
A mother’s education is a strong safeguard against poverty, as nearly one third of households with children whose mother did not attend school live in income poverty compared to 18.6 percent of mothers who have obtained a primary education and about 13.4 percent who received a secondary education or higher.
This study is one of nearly 50 country studies initiated by UNICEF and carried around the world.
“Despite the global progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, millions of children and women in the world are still being left behind. With the deadline of 2015 approaching, UNICEF has taken up a plan to leverage evidence, analysis, policy and partnerships to promote gender equality and deliver results for all children, said Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF’s regional director for Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Egypt is one of six countries in the MENA region to conduct the study. It is the second country to launch it following Djibouti. Other countries include Iran, Morocco, Palestine and Yemen.
“This study is a manifestation of the priority UNICEF is giving globally to address child poverty in an evidence-based and comprehensive manner, said Kaag.
The study states that both adults and children in Egypt believe that poverty exists because the government needs to do more.