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Children’s budget continues to decline

NEGLECTED? — Children in Malawi

An analysis released on Monday by United Nations Children’s Fund indicates that the budget for child protection has continued to decline in recent years in Malawi.

For example, in the 2018/19 financial year K796 million was allocated for child protection but the allocation declined to K406 million in the 2019/20 fiscal year.

In per capita terms, this means the total visible allocation to child protection translates to approximately K23 ($0.03) per child per year.

“The reduction in the child protection budget might cause deterioration in services at a time cases of violence against children are high in the country,” notes the 2019/20 Social Welfare Budget Brief.

The allocation to primary child protection services under the Ministry of Gender, Child Development and Community Development has substantially declined by 95 percent from the previous year at a time the country is grappling with high rates of child marriage, violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.

“The government should prioritise child protection interventions during the fiscal year 2019/20 mid-year review and for the 2020/21 budget. Costing exercises to determine the minimum level needed to ensure that child protection interventions are carried out effectively should be considered,” reads part of the recommendations by the UN agency.

However, the UN agency notes that the Early Childhood Development budget substantially increased from K3.4 billion in the 2018/19 fiscal year to K10 billion in 2019/20 budget. This was largely driven by the World Bank ‘Investing in Early Years’ project.

Child rights activist, Jennifer Mkandawire, said the analysis is a true reflection of what is happening on the ground, saying limited resources could aggravate different forms of abuses children face in the country.

“It is sad to note in every sector of our society that resources towards children wellbeing are minimal,” he said.

According to the Population and Housing Census of 2018 done by the National Statistical Office there are about 8.9 million children in Malawi with child poverty stagnant at around 20.1 percent

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