Child poverty

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					Child poverty
Child poverty and disparities in Vanuatu
In 2009 UNICEF-Pacific commissioned the SPRC to study child poverty and disparities in child well-being
in Vanuatu. There are some earlier studies of poverty in Vanuatu, but this is the first to focus on child
poverty. The study uses methodologies and approaches developed through the UNICEF Global Study on
Child Poverty and Disparities.

Currently 49 countries are               modernisation, urbanisation and          measures of poverty included:
participating in the Global Study,       new lifestyle aspirations have
                                                                                  • Children in households living on
with Vanuatu being the first Pacific     created problems of cash poverty,
                                                                                    less than US$1.08 or US$1.25 a
Island country (PIC) to take part.       lack of opportunity, social isolation,
                                                                                    day (adjusted by purchasing
The Global Study uses a                  and inequality across the Pacific.
                                                                                    power parities – PPPs);
comprehensive approach to                Vanuatu has a young population,
examine poverty. First, it looks at                                               • Children under the Basic Needs
                                         high birth rates and a high rate of
gaps and opportunities in national       population growth. Nearly half the         Poverty Line (BNPL), which is
poverty reduction strategies,            population is under 20 years of age.       the cost of a minimally nutritious
including the demographic and            Vanuatu is made up of eighty               diet (2100 calories a day, plus
economic context, employment,            islands, sixty-five inhabited, spread      allowances for essential non-food
social expenditures, and foreign         across close to 700,000 square             items). This was estimated in two
aid. Second, the Study focuses on        kilometres of ocean, making                ways – a national average and a
poverty and disadvantage faced by        problems of distance and                   poverty line differing between
children. Finally, it looks at how       communication very significant.            urban and rural areas; and
public policies could more
                                         The country is administered at the       • Children in households with per
effectively reduce child deprivations
                                         sub-national level by six Provincial       adult equivalent expenditures
by providing better services and
                                         and three Municipal governments.           less than 50 per cent of the
protection for all children, including
                                         The northernmost province,                 population median.
measures that promote gender
                                         containing some of the most remote       The measures of deprivation came
equality. The purpose of the Global
                                         islands, is Torba; the capital Port      from the 2007 Multiple Indicator
Study is to make children a priority
                                         Vila is located in Shefa province,
in national programs.                                                             Cluster Survey (Vanuatu National
                                         and the other main urban centre,
                                                                                  Statistics Office, Department of
                                         Luganville, is located in Sanma
Social conditions                        province. Tafea is the southernmost
                                                                                  Health and UNICEF, 2007) and
                                                                                  were defined as follows:
Images of hunger, destitution and        province, also with remote islands
absolute poverty seen in other parts     and atolls. The larger islands are       • Shelter: Severe: Children (0-17)
of the developing world have been        mostly volcanic in origin, and there       living in a dwelling with an earth
largely absent in the Pacific.           are nine active volcanoes. The             or sand floor; Less severe: living
Vanuatuʼs population is                  country is extremely vulnerable to         in a house with thatch/palm leaf
predominantly rural, and most            natural disasters.                         roofing;
households rely on subsistence
                                         Measuring poverty and                    • Sanitation: Severe: Children (0-
production for their livelihoods.
                                                                                    17) with no access to a toilet
Households living on remote              deprivations                               facility of any kind; Less severe:
islands may have limited access to
                                         One of the important features of the       using: pour flush latrines,
cash incomes, but usually have
                                         SPRC study (Adamson et al.,                covered pit latrines, open pit
access to traditional land holdings
                                         forthcoming) is that we used a wide        latrines, and buckets);
for subsistence crops, and to the sea.
                                         range of indicators including            • Safe drinking water: Severe:
Traditional family and kinship           measures of consumption and                Children (0-17) using surface
networks are strong in Vanuatu, as       direct measures of household               water; Less severe: using water
are churches and NGOs. While the         deprivations. The consumption
                                                                                    from an unimproved source
population might not be well off in      measures were derived from a
                                                                                    (open wells or springs);
material terms, their strong family      Household Income and Expenditure
and community ties have                  Survey (Vanuatu National Statistics      • Information: Severe: Children (3-
traditionally provided social safety     Office, 2006) and included the             17) with no access to a radio, TV
nets for the vulnerable.                 value of food and other goods              or telephone; Less severe: no
Nevertheless, economic                   produced at home. Specific                 access to a radio or TV;

10   No 104     MARCH 2010
• Food: Severe: Children (0-4) who       important – nearly one-quarter of
  are more than three standard
  deviations below the international
                                         children in households with seven or
                                         more members are poor compared
                                                                                 “child poverty and
  reference populations for stunting     to nine per cent of those with fewer    wellbeing have a
  or wasting or underweight; Less        than four members. The education
  severe: more than two standard         level of the household head is also     strong regional
  deviations below the international     important, with 19 per cent of
  reference;                             children of those with no schooling
                                                                                 dimension in Vanuatu”
                                         being poor compared to five per
• Education: Severe: Children (7-
                                         cent of those with secondary
  17) of schooling age who have                                                  However, shelter, education and
                                         schooling. There is virtually no
  never attended school; Less                                                    water deprivation – like the national
                                         difference in poverty rates between
  severe: currently not attending                                                poverty line results – tend to be worst
  school; and                            boys and girls. Similarly, the gender
                                         of the head of household appears        in the more remote parts of the
• Health: Severe: Children (1-2)         to play only a small role in            country. In contrast, food and health
  who did not receive immunisation       determining the likelihood of a         deprivation – like the sub-national
  against any diseases; Less             household being in poverty.             poverty line results – are worst in Port
  severe: not received eight of the                                              Vila.
  following vaccinations BCG,            Focusing on severe deprivations,
                                         information deprivation is most         In summary, the research suggests a
  dpt1, dpt2, dpt3, polio0, polio1,                                              complex pattern of disadvantage.
  polio2, polio3, measles.               common, with 51 per cent of
                                         children in Vanuatu experiencing        Children living in remote areas are
                                         severe deprivation in this              disadvantaged but so are children
Results                                                                          living in urban areas. In particular,
                                         dimension. The next most common
In 2006 about 17 per cent of all                                                 children living in Port Vila have the
                                         severe deprivation was in health,
children in Vanuatu were below the                                               lowest immunisation rates and the
                                         with 17 per cent of children
national Basic Needs Poverty Line.                                               highest level of stunting, two very
                                         affected, followed by shelter with14
In Torba nearly 40 per cent of                                                   worrying social indicators. The
                                         per cent of children affected; 10 per
children lived in poverty and around                                             government of Vanuatu needs to
                                         cent were affected by severe food
a quarter in Tafea and Shefa. Port                                               address these regional disparities in
                                         deprivation; over seven per cent by
Vila and Luganville have the lowest                                              child wellbeing, with improved
                                         water deprivation; five per cent by
levels of expenditure poverty at                                                 educational attainment being an
                                         education and approximately three
around six per cent.                                                             important step towards improving
                                         per cent by sanitation deprivation.
                                                                                 child wellbeing.
These numbers change significantly       There is little difference between
when non-food items are adjusted         experiences of deprivation for boys     References
to take account of regional costs.       and girls. Once again, one of the
For example, the child poverty rate                                              Adamson, E., Benjamin, B., Deeming,
                                         most significant predictors of          C., Gubhaju, B. and Whiteford, P.
in Port Vila is about 33 per cent        deprivation is the educational
rather than 6 per cent using the                                                 (forthcoming), National Report,
                                         attainment of parents, particularly     Vanuatu: Global Study on Child
national standard.                       mothers. There are large                Poverty and Disparities, UNICEF.
Thus, child poverty and wellbeing        differences between urban and
have a strong regional dimension in      rural areas, with around 10 per cent    Vanuatu National Statistics Office
Vanuatu: however, the profile of         of children in urban households         (2006), Household Income and
disadvantage changes significantly       experiencing at least one severe        Expenditure Survey, Port Vila.
when different poverty measures          deprivation compared to nearly 30       Vanuatu National Statistics Office,
are used. If any of the national         per cent of rural households.           Department of Health and UNICEF
average lines are used, then child       However, food deprivation is            (2007), Multiple Indicator Cluster
poverty is highest in the more           significantly worse in urban areas,     Survey, Port Vila.
distant provinces, but if sub-national   being highest in Port Vila at close
poverty lines are used then child        to 20 per cent, compared to less        Acknowledgements
poverty is most severe in Port Vila      than 10 per cent in most rural areas.
                                                                                 This article is based on an SPRC
due to higher costs of living.
                                         Overall, patterns of deprivation are    report prepared by Elizabeth
A number of other factors have a         not uniform, but Malampa does           Adamson, Susan Benjamin,
bearing on whether children live in      better than nearly all other            Christopher Deeming, Bina Gubhaju
poverty. Household size is               provinces on a consistent basis.        and Peter Whiteford.

                                                                                       SPRC NEWSLETTER              11

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Description: Child poverty