12m children 'live in poverty'

MORE than 11million children in South Africa live in poverty. This shocking statistic was revealed yesterday at the Human Rights Commission's workshop on Equity in the Realisation of Children's Rights in South Africa.

Vincent Moago, spokesperson for the commission, said the workshop was aimed at highlighting challenges limiting efforts to realise the rights of children.

He said while progress had been made to accelerate the realisation of children's rights, the report revealed that black children in particular continued to live in poverty.

"The report revealed that 11,9million children live in poverty. It also revealed that a child growing up in deprived communities was two times less likely to have access to adequate sanitation and water, two times less likely to be exposed to early childhood development programmes, three times less likely to complete secondary education and 17 times more likely to experience hunger."

Moago said of the 49million people living in South Africa, 18million of them were children under the age of 18 and more than 60percent of them were African children living in hunger. "The report indicated that the majority of these children living in poverty were raised by single and unemployed mothers," he said.

"In addressing these challenges, we have called on the government to speedily develop policies that will target vulnerable groups which include children and women."

Lulu Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said the government had prioritised programmes that were aimed at alleviating poverty.

"The report on the Millennium Development Goals (2010) indicates that government's poverty alleviation programme increased dramatically between 1997 and 2010. The number of beneficiaries of income support programmes increased from 2,6million to 14million during this period," Xingwana said.

Lack of appropriate documentation prevented some children from accessing social grants, she said.

"Home Affairs has intensified efforts to increase ID registration. Now children are being registered at birth in hospitals, making it possible for them to access any grant immediately," she said, adding that a total of 10,5million children were receiving child support grants.

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