Home » Human Rights » Investing in Children Key to Development

CLEARLY, investing in children is not sloganeering by civil society, instead, there are g economic benefits for the Government to do so. Evidence suggests that each dollar, spent to improve a child’s nutrition, cognitive development, and social and physical environment is an investment in the future ‘human capital’, which is are more skilled, healthy, innovative and productive.

An investment in Children is an investment in the future! It is both a legal and moral responsibility of every Government, and hence should be at the centre of policy formulation including the allocation of a country’s financial resources.

It is worth noting that without adequate resources, commitments towards children’s rights will remain hollow and the children will not be able to meaningfully contribute to the future development of the country.

Prioritising the rights and needs of all children for today and for future generations, require increased investment for implementing relevant legislation and programmes that deliver results for children.

While progress has been made on legislation, a lot still needs to be done regarding resource allocation to children’s programmes.

For instance, Zimbabwe ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1999), among others, which oblige Governments to undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures to promote and protect the rights and welfare of the child.

These treaties recognise that children require full support to ensure full development of their personality, so that they can take charge of their future development. In addition, the Constitution of Zimbabwe makes special provision for the rights of the child in Section 81, including the right to: equal treatment before the law, be heard education and health care services, nutrition and shelter, among others.

While noting these commitments to children, there is high risk that without appropriate public spending, these treaties will remain empty promises, and children will continue to suffer deprivations. Although gains have been achieved, the overall situation of children in Zimbabwe remains somewhat worrisome, with 11 percent of children underweight 28 percent stunted 31 percent not fully immunised 58 percent net secondary school attendance ratio only 32 percent of under-fives having their birth registered (MICS, 2014). This makes a g call for authorities to consider increasing the transparency, size and quality of investment on children.

Recent debate among economists, government and development partners, alike has mainly focused on the need for Zimbabwe to create fiscal space for increased spending in growth-enhancing capital projects. The importance of addressing the country’s expenditure mix, wherein only 8 percent of the 2015 National Budget is earmarked for capital projects, with 92 percent being recurrent expenditures, is well acknowledged.

However, there is danger that concentrating on growth alone, will only serve to widen inequality and marginalisation, particularly among children. The investment case for children is often not clearly defined or tends to be subsumed under the broader objective of social development and cohesion. There is need to make sure that investments in children are recognised as a self-standing priority for creating the enabling environment for sustained and equitable long-term growth.

The national budget is an important tool to achieve this, hence the need to create fiscal space for increased investment in sectors that deliver results for children such as: education, health, social protection and WASH. However, the size and quality of public spending has remained low.

For instance, of the education sector’s 2015 budgetary allocation of US$980 million, 98 percent goes to employment costs with only 2 percent being programmes budget.

Jecob Nyamadzawo is a Public Finance Analyst with UNICEF Zimbabwe.

Source : The Herald