Sharon Siwale-Fumbeshi

Sharon Siwale-Fumbeshi
Me, Myself and I

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

UNICEF appeals for $1.28 billion for its humanitarian operations to assist children in 2012

GENEVA, 27 January 2012 – UNICEF appealed today for US$1.28 billion to fund its humanitarian operations in 2012, assisting children in more than 25 countries globally. The list of countries includes many long standing or so-called “silent” emergencies, but the crisis in Somalia and in other countries in the Horn of Africa accounts for nearly one-third of the total amount.
“While much of the world’s attention focuses on the humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa, we must not forget those in the many long-standing emergencies around the globe, the silent emergencies,” said Rima Salah, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director (a.i.), at the launch of UNICEF’s 2012 Humanitarian Action for Children report in Geneva today. The report is accessible at
“In the Sahel, we are facing a nutrition crisis of a larger magnitude than usual. In addition, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic, to name just a few, are all emergencies requiring funding if their most vulnerable people, children and women, are to survive,” she added.
The UNICEF report describes the daily situation of some of the world’s most vulnerable children and women caught up in emergencies across the world and the funding required to meet their immediate and long-term needs, their right to healthy survival and development.
It highlights the massive humanitarian operation in the Horn of Africa where UNICEF activated its highest level of emergency response to run an operation to save the  lives of hundreds of thousands of children and women on the brink of survival in that region.
It also notes the needs of children and their families displaced by violence stemming from the November 2010 elections in Cote d’Ivoire and the independence of South Sudan from the Republic of the Sudan; the five million people affected by a second year of flooding in Pakistan and the operation to rebuild Haiti two years after an earthquake shattered the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
The report cites the wave of political turmoil and change in the Middle East and North Africa as creating humanitarian needs in the region especially in countries such as Yemen which is already affected by a long standing emergency crisis.
On long-term emergencies, the UNICEF reports says: “Throughout the world, millions of children are living amidst crises that persist for years. While some of these emergencies attract significant media and political attention, others never reach international awareness, and many become ‘silent emergencies’ in which deep humanitarian need, existing far from the public eye, is too easily and quickly overlooked.”
The report stresses the importance of emergency preparedness and building resilience as critical in reducing death and injury in emergency situations.
The conflict in the East and Northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to have a profound impact on millions of people over many years, according to the report.
As of June 2011, more than 1.5 million people, half of them children, were displaced. Millions of children in conflict-affected areas were out of school, and attacks involving mass sexual violence were common in some provinces, and measles and cholera epidemics threatened the lives of many millions of children.
In Haiti, UNICEF and its partners continue to assist survivors of the 2010 quake and take steps to increase the resilience of the most vulnerable Haitians. In 2011, UNICEF helped reunite 2,500 separated children with their families and established 193 temporary schools to serve nearly 86,000 children.
“We have achieved many positive results in emergency settings in 2011 but the urgent and long term needs of millions of children and their families will continue in 2012. UNICEF requires adequate funding in order to fulfill its commitments towards children.” Salah said. “They not only represent the future but are the most vulnerable, and deserve generous and consistent support from the donor community.”

Monday, 16 January 2012

DFID provides UNICEF with new funding to help Zambia reach health and environment MDGs with Equity

Three million people in rural areas to gain access to improved sanitation
LUSAKA, Zambia, 9 January 2012 - The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) is supporting the UNICEF sanitation and hygiene programme in Zambia with a contribution of almost US$30 million (152 trillion Zambian Kwacha) over a period of four years.
“Poor sanitation and hygiene currently present a massive health burden, especially to children under five and women,” said Mike Hammond, Head of the DFID office in Zambia. “With UK aid, Zambia should be able to meet the MDG target of halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation.” 
The DFID assistance will enable 3 million people in rural areas, including 500,000 school children, to access improved sanitation. It will also help to increase the number of households that will be able to wash their hands with a hand cleansing agent such as soap or ash.
“With this support, which is greatly appreciated, we will be able to work with the Government of the Republic of Zambia to accelerate progress towards meeting the sanitation MDGs, which will contribute significantly to saving the lives of millions of Zambian children from deadly waterborne diseases.” said UNICEF Zambia Representative Dr. Iyorlumun J. Uhaa
The funds will enable UNICEF to support the construction of latrines in 1,000 schools, strengthen the private sector to help households improve their existing latrines, and introduce a national campaign to promote good hygiene practices at the community level. The funds will also be used to scale-up Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), an innovative approach which aims to help local communities build simple, low-cost latrines rather than using communal open spaces.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Christmas Message to my readers

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my readers and subscribers, a Merry Christmas.
Christmas is a time of sharing and giving, being with your loved ones and the less fortunate.
I hope you're spending this holiday season with those dear to your heart and let's not forget the homeless and the orphans.
It's going to be my first time spending Christmas with my son as my husband is away, but you know what? I intend to put a smile on a child' face. I will spend my Christmas with my house helper and her family, Salome.She is in her late 50's, takes care of her three grandchildren.
Remember to always count your blessings and be thankful for everything you have.
Take some time to pause, reflect and share some love to the people that mean most to your life.
This year has been amazing, this blog is only 4 months and it has over 3,500 views. Good things are definitely coming.
Am busy working on ways to improve it, next year, will be an even better year.
Thanking you for your support.
Happy Holidays, till next year. My holiday begins now!!
Much Love
Sharon Siwale-Fumbeshi

Friday, 2 December 2011

Climate change also affects urban women

By Saeanna Chingamuka  
01 December 2011
It has been an exciting journey to be present at the COP 17 meeting currently underway in Durban. I have attended interesting meetings, with charismatic speakers like the one who kept saying that Africa is being forced to adapt to a situation that it did not create. Yes, we did not create the conditions that brought climate change, but since we are a global village, is it not fair for us to face our problems as a global family? Or do we have selective amnesia when it comes to what globalisation means?
The 1994 State of the Environment in Southern Africa points out that between 1991 and 1992, Southern Africa, excluding Namibia, experienced the worst drought in living memory. There were serious food and water shortages and livestock perished.
I lived in a densely populated township in Harare, Zimbabwe. Our household owned an old and massive Supersonic radio whose volume could not be reduced and was permanently on high. This is a radio that was well past its best before date, but being a low-income family, we somehow forced it to work. I remember this because 1991 was very traumatic for me and the messages from that radio were quite disturbing.
Reports on national radio, remember that the volume was very high, said that the country was facing serious food shortages and had to import yellow maize. Through the radio's frequent updates, we went on a journey with the trains that brought maize into the country. When the train got stuck, we would know that by the end of the week, if that goods train was not fixed, there would be no mealie-meal in the house.
Anyway, I want to write about a day in my mother's life during that period.
Firstly, there were the water shortages. We knew back then that every 15 October we would have the first rains. By the time we got into the New Year, most dams would have filled to capacity. But things changed in 1991. We had erratic rainfall.
There were adverts on radio that people should save water, use buckets to water the gardens instead of hosepipes, and that the local municipality would start to ration water. Water rations became water scarcity; we would go without water for one day, then it became a week and then it even got to one month.
My mother had to wake up early in the morning before sunrise to fetch water from unprotected sources on the outskirts of the township. This water would be for the toilet, cleaning the house and washing the dishes, among other things. For drinking, we had two 25 litre containers and we had to use this water sparingly. If one container finished, my mother had to travel to the nearest suburb on foot to get clean water. She would then walk back with her container balanced on her head.
She also had to provide food for the family and our staple food in Zimbabwe is maize. Every day, we have to eat sadza or pap. We were not used to other alternatives like rice or pasta. So she had to go and queue at the local shopping centre several times in the week only to be lucky on one of the days and get a 10 kilogram bag of maize meal. How long would it last before she had to go to the shopping centre to join the queues again?
Climate change had already started knocking on our doors. We just didn't know it.
Being a young woman then, I felt for my mother. She had to provide food on the table, make sure we had clean water to drink, and water for other domestic purposes. My father would not worry about all those things. He would give my mother money to go and look for mealie-meal. The water in the house, he simply did not care.
I have remembered the period between 1991 and 1992 at this COP 17 meeting. Many discussions are around agro-ecology, climate jobs, gas emissions and adapting to climate change. When a presenter refers to women, chances are very high that it will be rural women.
We should not forget that climate change also affects urban women. Just because they are staying in urban areas does not mean that they are spared. The township we used to stay in in 1991 is still there. Taps have since dried up as the local council cannot provide clean water to residents. It is not their own making, but other factors including erratic rainfalls come to play. But residents still have to pay water bills every month end.
 Women have had to fetch water from unprotected sources. This exposes families to water borne diseases such as cholera. Discussions at COP 17 should not sideline women in urban areas. They are equally affected and strategies put in place by local government should take into consideration the differential impact of climate change on women and men.
 The burden of access to clean and safe water remains. We should therefore not forget during this years' Sixteen days of Activism that climate change also perpetuates violence against women. If women have to walk a few more kilometres to the closest clean water source, it exposes them to physical and sexual abuse. Service providers in local government should thus opt to sink boreholes in urban areas at central points that are safe and easily accessible for women.

Saeanna Chingamuka is the Gender and Media Diversity Centre Manager at Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service and African Woman and Child Feature Service special series for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence and COP 17 Conference.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Contraceptive Used in Africa May Double Risk of H.I.V.


Published: October 3, 2011
The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with H.I.V., according to a large study published Monday. And when it is used by H.I.V.-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception.  
The findings potentially present an alarming quandary for women in Africa. Hundreds of thousands of them suffer injuries, bleeding, infections and even death in childbirth from unintended pregnancies. Finding affordable and convenient contraceptives is a pressing goal for international health authorities.
But many countries where pregnancy rates are highest are also ravaged by H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. So the evidence suggesting that the injectable contraceptive has biological properties that may make women and men more vulnerable to H.I.V. infection is particularly troubling.
Injectable hormones are very popular. About 12 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 in sub-Saharan Africa, roughly 6 percent of all women in that age group, use them. In the United States, it is 1.2 million, or 3 percent of women using contraception. While the study involved only African women, scientists said biological effects would probably be the same for all women. But they emphasized that concern was greatest in Africa because the risk of H.I.V. transmission from heterosexual sex was so much higher there than elsewhere.
“The best contraception today is injectable hormonal contraception because you don’t need a doctor, it’s long-lasting, it enables women to control timing and spacing of birth without a lot of fuss and travel,” said Isobel Coleman, director of the women and foreign policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations. “If it is now proven that these contraceptions are helping spread the AIDS epidemic, we have a major health crisis on our hands.”
The study, which several experts said added significant heft to previous research while still having some limitations, has prompted the World Health Organization to convene a meeting in January to consider if evidence is now strong enough to advise women that the method may increase their risk of getting or transmitting H.I.V.
“We are going to be re-evaluating W.H.O.’s clinical recommendations on contraceptive use,” said Mary Lyn Gaffield, an epidemiologist in the World Health Organization’s department of reproductive health and research. Before the meeting, scientists will review research concerning hormonal contraceptives and women’s risk of acquiring H.I.V., transmitting it to men, and the possibility (not examined in the new study) that hormonal contraceptives accelerate H.I.V.’s severity in infected women.
“We want to make sure that we warn when there is a real need to warn, but at the same time we don’t want to come up with a hasty judgment that would have far-reaching severe consequences for the sexual and reproductive health of women,” she said. “This is a very difficult dilemma.”
The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, involved 3,800 couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In each couple, either the man or the woman was already infected with H.I.V. Researchers followed most couples for two years, had them report their contraception methods, and tracked whether the uninfected partner contracted H.I.V. from the infected partner, said Dr. Jared Baeten, an author and an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist.
The research was presented at an international AIDS conference this summer, but has now gained traction, scientists said, with publication in a major peer-reviewed journal.
 The manufacturer of the branded version of the injectable, Depo-Provera, is Pfizer, which declined to comment on the study, saying officials had not yet read it. The study’s authors said the injectables used by the African women were probably generic versions.
The study found that women using hormonal contraception became infected at a rate of 6.61 per 100 person-years, compared with 3.78 for those not using that method. Transmission of H.I.V. to men occurred at a rate of 2.61 per 100 person-years for women using hormonal contraception compared with 1.51 for those who did not.
While at least two other rigorous studies have found that injectable contraceptives increase the risk of women’s acquiring H.I.V., the new research has some strengths over previous work, said Charles Morrison, senior director of clinical sciences at FHI 360, a nonprofit organization whose work includes researching the intersection of family planning and H.I.V.
Those strengths include the fact that researchers followed couples and were therefore able to track transmission of H.I.V. to both men and women. Dr. Morrison said only one other less rigorous study had looked at whether hormonal contraception increased the risk of infected women’s transmitting the virus to men.
“This is a good study, and I think it does add some important evidence,” said Dr. Morrison, who wrote a commentary accompanying the Lancet article.
Although the study has limitations, including its use of data not originally intended to determine the link between contraceptive use and H.I.V., “I think this does raise the suspicion” that injectable contraceptives could increase transmission risk, he said.
Why that would occur is unclear. The researchers recorded condom use, essentially excluding the possibility that increased infection occurred because couples using contraceptives were less likely to use condoms.
The progestin in injectable contraceptives appears to have a physiological effect, scientists said. Renee Heffron, an epidemiologist and co-author of the study, said research examining whether the hormone changes genital tissue or vaginal mucous had been inconclusive. Studies in macaques found that progestin thins vaginal tissue, she said, “but studies among women didn’t show the same amount of thinning.”
It could be that progestin causes “immunologic changes in the vagina and cervix” or could increase the H.I.V.’s “ability to replicate,” Dr. Morrison said.
At one point, the researchers measured the concentration of H.I.V. in infected women’s genital fluid, finding “there was more H.I.V. in the genital fluid of those using hormonal contraception than those who aren’t,” Dr. Baeten said, a possible reason men might have increased risk of infection from hormonal contraceptive users. Those women “don’t have more H.I.V. in their blood,” he said.
The researchers also found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of H.I.V. infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said.
Previous research on the pill has been more mixed than with injectables, which could have a greater impact because they involve a strong dose meant to last for three months, Dr. Baeten said.
In another troubling finding, results from the same study, published separately, showed that pregnancy also doubled the risk of women’s contracting H.l.V. and of infected women’s transmitting it to men. That may partly be due to increased unprotected sex, but could also relate to hormones, researchers said.
But there are no simple solutions, the authors acknowledge. Any warning against such a popular contraceptive method may not only increase complications from pregnancy but increase H.I.V. transmission, too, since pregnancy itself may raise a woman’s risk of H.I.V. infection.
First, the researchers and others say, greater emphasis should be placed on condom use along with hormonal methods.
Some experts, like Dr. Morrison, favor a randomized controlled trial for more definitive proof, but others question how to “randomize women who may have strong preferences about their contraception,” he added.
Dr. Ludo Lavreys, an epidemiologist who led one of the first studies to link injectable contraceptives to increased H.I.V. risk, said intrauterine devices, implants and other methods should be explored and expanded. “Before you stop” recommending injectables, he said, “you have to offer them something else.”
The New York Times

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Zambian Divas talk HIV/AIDS

More than 34 million people in the world have HIV; over 22 million live in Africa. The disease is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa with approximately 3,600 people dying every day from AIDS. It costs around 40 cents a day for the 2 antiretroviral pills needed to help keep someone living with HIV alive and healthy. This is according to the UNAIDS 2010 Global report.
Held every year on 1st December, World AIDS Day is a date for people to think about and act upon the global HIV epidemic. HIV continues to have a devastating impact on millions of people around the world. Whilst this infection can be prevented, HIV transmission continues to occur. Although HIV can be treated, many people infected with HIV do not have access to life-saving drugs.
Three months ago at the start of this blog, I promised to feature Zambia’s celebrated women.
In commemorating World AIDS day, I thought of interviewing women who changed the entertainment industry, to a whole new level.
 Daputsa Nkata A.K.A ‘’Sister D’’,  is one of Zambia’s celebrated musicians, who needs no introduction. And who can forget, Lindiwe Bungane,2004 Pan-African Project Fame winner, who recently played a major role in the SA Dream Girls musical. And Song-bird Saboi Imboela one half of the celebrated female music group  Shatel.
 These women brought excitement to the music industry, they were fearless, they exiled in an industry that was dominated by men.
But what exactly are their views on HIV/AIDS and what are they doing as role models in helping combat the scourge?? Let’s find out.

This year’s theme is ‘’getting to Zero.”
 ‘’ Zero new infections.”
  ‘’Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths.’’
 How do you interpret the theme?
The theme gives renewed hope in the fight in that it provides a visionary direction and focus towards Zero new infections and related deaths. It is also a huge challenge to health providers, care givers and advocates who are faced with the huge question of “HOW’ to attain the goals set in the theme.
Daputsa Nkata a.ka. Sister D
  What is your stance so far on the efforts, been made in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS?
The current efforts are appreciated very much. However, more needs to be done especially at the very grass-root level where the approach should be simple and basic yet effective with emphasis on prevention of mother to child and multiple concurrent sexual partnerships. Strong negative cultural beliefs will have to be nipped in the bud which is going to prove to be a difficult task as culture is embedded in every African setting.
 Are you involved in any projects to combat HIV/AIDS?
I have been involved in several projects but I believe the power of advocacy lies in an individual. which I have done and still do in my years as an artiste and activist.
As a musician young women look up to you, what message do you have for them with regards to HIV/AIDS (As singing is not an easy career)?
First focus on what you want to achieve in life and career. When one is focused everything comes second. Like you say singing is not an easy career but it takes determination and self control.
 What’s your message to those who are already infected?
It’s not the end of the world and they could be a blessing in disguise because from their experiences, we are able to learn how to live positively or how not to be infected. I believe they are the best teachers and advocates in this fight. 
 They say” if you are not infected then you are affected.” What have been the effects of HIV/AIDS on your personal life?
I have lost a sister and a brother to HIV, my mother’s house was full of orphans and now that my mother is dead, we are the ones to take care of these children left behind by our relatives and it’s not only in our families. HIV has affected us in all sectors of life as the saying goes “if you are not infected you are affected.”
 Any message to the readers of the blog, to Zambia and your fans?
To the parents let us take care of ourselves so that we see our children grow in a way that we want them too. To my fans I always value your support no award in my collection can surpass the award which the people have awarded to me which is the acceptance of my work and my music.  One Love!


This year’s theme is ‘’getting to Zero.’’
 ‘’ Zero new infections.’’
  ‘’Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths.’’
How do you interpret the theme?

I interpret it as it is possible to have no new infections, no discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths if we all took the information available to us about the disease seriously.
Lindiwe Bungane
What is your take so far on the efforts, been made in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS?
I think a lot has been said and done but unfortunately maybe too much and the seriousness of the disease has now become old news and in a way the fight has taken a few steps back because we now have to find new ways to reinvent that awareness previously created.
 Are you involved in any projects to combat HIV/AIDS?
Not with an AIDS organisation but I am working with a community school back in Ndola.I hope to build a bigger school for them and offer free education, skills development and meals to the kids. I believe a lot of infections result from poverty and ignorance and if these kids can have a better education, freedom from desperation and a little hope they might carry their flames into the larger community.
As a musician young women look up to you, what message do you have for them with regards to HIV/AIDS (As singing is not an easy career)?
Like any career, there are temptations but I’ve always prided myself in working my way up. It might take longer and it will definitely be harder but at the end of the day, you can always hold your head up high and walk with dignity knowing you did it the right way, and let’s face it, a woman’s dignity is a fragile thing. There is always a deep satisfaction when you make the right choice despite the hardships and temptations to cheat your way to the top.
What’s your message to those who are already infected?
It’s happened and there’s no going back so you just make the best of what life has handed to you. Find a good support system with people who understand what you’re going through because I believe in any had situation the biggest battle is in the mind and once you have the right outlook on your circumstances everything else will begin to play out positively for you.
They say “if you are not infected then you are affected.” What have been the effects of HIV/AIDS on your personal life?
I have had friends and family die from it and it’s just given me more insight on how a positive mind can get you through the toughest situations.
 Any message to the readers of the blog? to Zambia and your fans?
Learn to fall in love with yourself and never let anyone tell you, you don’t deserve the best life has to offer. To my fans anyone in the Johannesburg area should follow me on facebook to know where I’m next performing and I thank everyone for the continuous love I get from them.


This year’s theme is ‘’getting to Zero.’’
 ‘’ Zero new infections.’’
  ‘’Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths.’’
How do you interpret the theme?

The theme talks of an ideal world where there would be no more new infections and where discrimination would be a thing of the past. It also means that a lot of opportunistic infections that have come up and are killing our people will be controlled and will no longer kill people as it is happening today.
Saboi Imboela
What is your stance so far on the efforts, been made in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS?
The efforts have been tremendous and it is no wonder we are hearing that there is now a reduction in the HIV infection rates in the country. People are more aware but of course a lot needs to be done to make sure that the rate keeps going down until we have zero new infections. When people learn more about AIDS it will also decrease the levels of discrimination and the people that are infected will be able to live normal, happy lives and not hide or fear to take medicine.
  Are you involved in any projects to combat HIV/AIDS?
I’m involved with charities that seek to better the lives of women and children and some of these concentrate on women or children that are HIV positive. For me I want to see a better future for these disadvantaged groups whether they are HIV positive or not and we talk to young girls to stay away from premarital sex and concentrate on school. Once we teach our young girls and women of their rights such as the sexual reproductive rights and the need for them to be in control of their sexuality, the abuse from men is minimised as they put a high value on themselves and their bodies. 
 As a musician young women look up to you, what message do you have for them with regards to HIV/AIDS (As singing is not an easy career)?
My advice to young girls and women is always to put high value on themselves. The Bible puts it best when it says that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and so we should treat them as such. The Bible also says unlike other sins sexual immorality is one sin that you commit against your own body so young girls should treasure, respect and highly value their own bodies because no one else will do it for them.
What’s your message to those who are already infected?
To the people that are infected, it is not the end of the world, you can live a long and healthy life for a very long time. I personally know a number of people that have been infected for a long time but are living positively and are very healthy. Sometimes what kills people is denial and so they do not get the proper medication, but once you test positive and accept that you can live a healthy, productive life even when you are HIV positive, you find that you really live a happy, prosperous and long life like everybody else.
They say “if you are not infected then you are affected.” What have been the effects of HIV/AIDS on your personal life?    
I have lost friends and relatives from the disease so we are all affected by HIV AIDS. I don’t think there is a single person in the country today who can say they have not lost a relative, friend or even church mate from AIDS- it has really hit Sub Saharan countries like Zambia badly and we need to work together to mitigate the scourge. 
Any message to the readers of the blog? to Zambia and your fans?
My message to Zambia and readers of the blog is what Nelson Mandela said “It always seems impossible until it is done”.  So looking at the HIV/AIDS rates today and this year’s theme some people might look at it as an impossible task. I personally believe it can be done and we can reach zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths if we all put our efforts together to eliminate HIV/AIDS from our societies. The only thing that is needed is you and me to work together to achieve it- NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

UNICEF study provides new insight into how poverty affects children

 Children in East Asia & Pacific region face multiple deprivations

BANGKOK, 22 November – A new UNICEF study analysing child poverty in East Asia and the Pacific emphasizes that poverty affects children in vastly different ways than adults. As a result, policy makers need to look beyond family income indicators to gain a more complete picture of poverty and the deprivations children face.

The study entitled “Child Poverty in East Asia and the Pacific: Deprivations and Disparities” noted that family poverty often affects children most directly through their access to shelter, food, water, sanitation, education, health and information. When a child is deprived of one or more of these essential services, their experience of poverty deepens.

Analysing the situation of children living in seven East Asia and Pacific countries with a child population over 93 million, the report found over 30 million suffered from at least one form of severe deprivation, such as the inability to go to school, or access basic health care, safe drinking water, a sanitary toilet or adequate nutrition – and more than 13 million suffered from two or more forms of severe deprivation.

“The study demonstrates that income gains, including in middle income countries in the region, have not necessarily translated into gains for all children,” said Mahesh Patel, UNICEF Regional Advisor for Social Policy. “Any national equity and disparity reduction policy must start with child poverty reduction at its centre.”

The report reviews child poverty studies carried out in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam from 2007 to 2010.

“The thorough analysis presented in these national studies will help countries target programmes and policies to better reach the most vulnerable in society and to use resources most efficiently,” said Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific.

The seven Asia-Pacific countries were among 53 worldwide that participated in UNICEF’s Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparity, which draws attention to the daily deprivations suffered by children and their negative impact on national development.

In Lao PDR, for example, while 38 per cent of children are assessed as income poor, as many as 75 per cent are assessed as living in poverty based on this broader – and increasingly recognized – measure of child poverty.

In Viet Nam, children from ethnic minority groups are 11 times more likely to suffer from multiple severe deprivations than children from ethnic majority groups - a pattern found in many other countries.

In Vanuatu, nearly one in five children suffers from severe health deprivation.

The report also underlines that much more needs to be done to reduce the disparities that impede the development of large numbers of children in East Asia and the Pacific. Inequity is rampant, with income inequality either remaining stagnant or increasing in all seven countries despite significant GDP growth over much of the last decade. Deprivations and disparities faced by children must feature prominently in national development and poverty alleviation plans in the region and inform how resources are allocated. Child-sensitive social protection policies that address the needs of the most vulnerable children will also be essential to reducing the deprivations children face in the region.

Gaps between rural and urban areas, different ethnic groups, geographic areas, and households headed by well-educated versus poorly educated adults were among the most notable disparities across the seven countries.

“Clearly the challenge now facing us in East Asia and the Pacific is to address the additional dimensions of child poverty revealed in this study, building on, but going beyond the foundation of economic growth in the region,” Rao Singh said.

The report also revealed the following trends:

Rural versus urban - child poverty was 30 per cent higher in rural Cambodia than in urban areas, 60 per cent higher in rural Thailand, 130 per cent higher in rural Philippines and 180 per cent higher in rural Viet Nam;

Geographic disparities – sub-national disparities within countries are, in some instances, more pronounced than the disparities between lower- and middle-income countries in the region– for example, the number of children suffering from severe deprivation in Viet Nam was over 6 times higher in the north-west region than the Red River Delta; and 50 per cent higher in southern Thailand than the North;

Disparities among ethnic minorities - disproportionately high levels of poverty and deprivation are evident among some ethnic minority children. This is an issue in almost all seven countries surveyed in the region. For example, the number of severely deprived ethnic minority children was about 60 per cent higher than the number of severely deprived children from dominant ethnic groups in both Lao PDR and Mongolia, 9 times as large in the Philippines and nearly 15 times larger in Thailand;

Education of household head- severe deprivation more than doubled in households where the household head had only a primary-school education or less, compared to households where the household head had secondary or higher education;

Family size - the incidence of severe deprivation in Mongolia and Viet Nam almost doubled in households with more than seven members, compared to those with four or fewer. In Thailand, the incidence more than tripled under these conditions