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Fighting child poverty

Developing countries share strategies on ending child poverty


Welcome to our online resource page for the International Symposium on Child Poverty and Development! This historic meeting in Beijing brought together some of the leading experts on child poverty from across the globe and China.

On this page you will find our in-depth article summarizing the main findings of the meeting. To the right you can find and download any of the fascinating presentations given at the Symposium. And at the bottom of the main article you will find helpful links on child poverty 

China's capital city was recently the setting for an important step forward in the international discourse on child poverty.

©UNICEF/China/2012/Jerry Liu
Traditional efforts to fight poverty have focused on income, while many “non-income” aspects of poverty leave life-long scars on children

Leading academics, policy makers and government officials from some twenty developing countries joined more than one hundred Chinese poverty alleviation officials and experts at the International Symposium on Child Poverty and Development in Beijing, 20-22 November 2012. 

Co-hosted by the State Council Leading Group Office on Poverty Alleviation and Development (LGOP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the symposium was described by Mr. Ou Qingping, a Senior Official of LGOP, as the "the most important conference on child poverty held in China."

The symposium was made possible with a generous grant from the Australian Agency for International Development.

Poverty is more than a line

Traditional efforts to reduce poverty have mainly focused on raising income and increasing employment. This has tended to obscure the "non-income" dimensions of poverty that have a deep and potentially life-long impact on children in households below and above the "poverty line."

Increasingly, experts agree on the need to understand poverty, especially as it affects children, as a multi-dimensional problem.

The International Symposium on Child Poverty and Development focused on the impact of poverty's "deprivations" – such as poor nutrition, inadequate sanitation and exposure to abuse and neglect – that often lead to unique and irreversible deficits in child development. Traditionally, these issues have not been systematically factored into mainstream poverty alleviation strategies.

In late 2007, UNICEF launched a seminal Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities in 52 countries in an effort to produce comparable data on the impact of limited access to adequate nutrition, safe drinking water, safe sanitation, health, shelter, education and information on child poverty.

In recent years, the Global Study has generated evidence, insights and networks that have influenced national development plans and fed into poverty reduction strategies. 

©UNICEF/China/012/Jerry Liu
Poverty is most acute in remote rural communities where many ethnic minorities live. Special efforts are required to ensure that the inter-generational cycle of poverty is broken.

According to Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF China's Representative, there is growing consensus that poverty alleviation efforts must address the full range of serious deprivations faced by the most vulnerable children.

"Specific programmes are needed to assist children without primary care-givers, children with disabilities, migrant children, children affected by AIDS, and children who are neglected, abused or exploited."

China targets child poverty

In 2011 the Government of China adopted a new rural poverty reduction strategy which included children as a special target group for the first time. China accounts for one out of every five children living in the developing world.

Despite its progress in bringing hundreds of millions out of poverty in recent decades, by the World Bank's US$2 per day household consumption measure, almost one hundred million children in China experience poverty.

Research suggests that nutrition, safe water, sanitation and housing constitute the most severe poverty deprivations for children in China.

The new focus on children in rural poverty suggests a growing consensus in the world's most populous country that child poverty differs from adult poverty, and that it has different causes and effects.

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