Putting Children First conference calls for action to tackle child poverty

19 October 2017


Despite important strides in the fight against poverty over the past two decades with nearly 1.1 billion people escaping extreme poverty since 1990, child poverty remains widespread and persistent, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. From 23-25 October, policymakers, researchers and NGOs will come together to identify solutions for addressing child poverty and inequality in Africa at the Putting Children First conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

As children across the world are most likely to be poor, with 50 percent of extremely poor children living in sub-Saharan Africa, the event aims to build on the momentum of the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that children remain at the centre of the agenda in Africa and other parts of the world.

Agnes Akosua Aidoo of the African Child Policy Forum, who will be presenting at the event, said:

‘Poverty affects children in lifelong ways, from malnutrition, poor health, lack of success in school, harmful labour and an overall poor quality of life. Not only is this extremely damaging for children and their families, but it has a lasting and detrimental impact on the prosperity and the well-being of their countries. Child poverty is everyone’s problem, and national governments should make addressing it their absolute priority.’

Aidoo will be joined in discussions alongside other key players including representatives from the Ethiopia Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Leila Pakkala, Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF and Young Lives Director Professor Jo Boyden who will be deliver a keynote speech on supporting secure transitions to adulthood.

This conference offers a platform for bridging divides between policy, practice and research and presents a crucial opportunity to bring together experience and to share knowledge. Keetie Roelen of the Institute of Development Studies explained:

Responses and solutions to child poverty are both available and affordable. The provision of social protection that has children at the heart, has now been widely tested and proven in many African countries. However, much room and urgency for improvement remains. Learning about what works and innovative solutions for children in poverty are needed, most of all, in places where there is instability, conflict and weak institutional capacity to deliver.'

The conference will be framed around four overarching themes:

  • Setting the scene: who and where are poor children?
  • Child sensitive social protection: making social protection work for children
  • Ensuring access to basic services for all: reaching and linking the poorest and most marginalised
  • Supporting secure transitions to adulthood

Through a mix of discussion, presentations and in-depth workshops, these themes are chosen to bridge perspectives from policymakers, practitioners, civil society and researchers in recognition of the importance of - and opportunity for - using evidence-based research to design the most effective policies and programmes to reach children in poverty in Africa and so address the multi-dimensional and complex challenges of poverty.

In so doing, Putting Children First will look to ‘make evidence matter’ for the poorest and most marginalised children in order to inspire and facilitate action across the continent. Follow #PuttingChildrenFirst for updates, and read the first of a series of blogs from Young Lives on the work of the Coalition towards 'leaving no one behind'.