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20% of children in Jordan still suffering from poverty — UNICEF

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Sep 02,2018 - Last updated at Sep 02,2018

AMMAN — Recent evaluations carried out by UNICEF have shown that a 20 per cent of the children in Jordan are still suffering from multidimensional poverty, which deprives them from access to services in key areas, including health, education or housing, according to Chief of Social Protection at UNICEF Jordan Manuel Rodríguez-Pumarol.

“Such statistics come at a time when a 40 per cent of the Jordanian population is still under the age of 18,” the official said on Thursday, stressing UNICEF’s commitment to supporting the government in ensuring adequate budget allocations in light of the current challenges faced by the Kingdom.

The remarks came during a workshop held by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) and UNICEF in order to examine the recommendations of a report on child-friendly budgets in the presence of several experts and stakeholders, who called on governmental institutions to adopt budgets that address the needs of the most vulnerable children across all areas of Jordan.

During the workshop, Director of NCFA Childhood Affairs Directorate Khitam Ahmad Al Utaibi presented the council’s Child-Friendly Budget Project, established in 2009 with the objective of “formulating national policies and action plans for the advancement of children's rights”.

The budgets of the ministries of education, health, social development and labour were analysed during the first phase of the project, followed by a second stage focused on the Ministry of Public Works and the former Supreme Council for Youth — now the Ministry of Youth. 

A new stage of the project was initiated last year targeting the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the municipalities of Madaba and Sahab, Al Utaibi said.

Concerning the project’s recommendations, the official stressed the need to “find a fair mechanism to review the distribution of aid for children in all its forms, taking into account demographic and economic indicators such as poverty, unemployment, and population rates”.

In the education sector, the report called for a further focus on the education of children in the early grades, providing schools and kindergartens in remote areas with a safe environment aimed at reducing child labour.

Regarding the health sector, the report noted the need to monitor markets and ensure the importation of high quality foodstuffs, in addition to supporting malnourished children with nutritional supplements. 

For his part, NCFA acting Secretary General Mohammad Miqdadi pointed out that the council has worked in cooperation with UNICEF and the General Budget Department on the draft budgets allocated to children in order to ensure a decent life in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, contributing to the preparation of national policies and action plans that translate children’s rights into financial obligations.

“The most prominent achievement in Jordan’s latest report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the government’s work to allocate a budget aimed at protecting children’s rights,” Miqdadi continued, pointing out that “work has been done in order to develop the annual budget law along these lines”. 

“A modern budget has been developed in order to secure the rights of children in the fields of health, education, social protection and other sensitive areas, and to ensure that the provisions are compatible with all other Jordanian national strategies and plans.” 

A Child Budget Observatory forum will soon be held in order to monitor the commitment to budgets on child rights and to measure the impact of public expenditure on the best interests of the child, according to Miqdadi. 

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