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Absence of government officials irk Treasury

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The low turnout of senior government officials at the launch of Malawi Child Poverty and the State of the World’s Children Reports in Lilongwe angered Secretary to the Treasury (ST), Ronald Mangani, who described the conduct as regrettable.

Mangani officially launched the report, whose study, the United Nations Children’s Education (Unicef) had conducted in partnership with government. The report found that poverty remains entrenched among the country’s children and threatens the gains made.

A government official who attended the launch confided in us that even though about eight Principal Secretaries (PSs) were invited to the launch, none had turned up. Instead, they had sent junior officers.

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And before going into the details of his speech, Mangani said the day would go down in his history as one of the saddest following the absence of most government officials who are crucial in issues to do with the welfare of children.

“Is this what we should be doing on a report of this significance; on a report that has a huge reflection on how we are moving forward as a country? I don’t know whether it is how we organised the launch.

“I don’t know why we have such low representation at the launch of such an important report but I would like to put it on record that I am personally disappointed. I am hoping that we will find a way of securing an assurance, especially on our part, that the recommendations in the report are going to attract the attention that they deserve,” Mangani said.

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The ST said it is unacceptable that about 63 percent of children in Malawi are multi-dimensionally poor, a percentage that is higher than the child monetary poverty rate of 43 percent.

“But together with our partners, we are doing all we can to reverse the situation. For instance, the nutrition programmes for children are part of the interventions. We don’t have a choice but to continue working towards improving the welfare of our children,” Mangani said.

Unicef Representative in Malawi, Johannes Wedenig, said it was more worrying that rates of child poverty in rural areas are even much higher.

“What all these statistics tell us is that interventions that exclusively target monetary poverty will exclude children who remain vulnerable as a result of the absence of basic needs,” Wedenig said.

He added: “There are a lot inequalities among children in Malawi and without decisive steps to break the cycle of poverty, we will continue to deny millions of children a fair chance in life and fuel intergenerational cycles of disadvantage.”

The child poverty study is aimed at strengthening the profile of children at the national policy table, influencing the economic and social policies that affect resource allocations, and to make children a priority in national programmes.

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