Governments in the continent’s oil-wealthy countries such as Sudan and Angola are among its worst for investing in children, while poorer ones such as Tanzania, Mozambique and Niger do far better, according to the African Report on Child Wellbeing 2011.
Researchers for think-tank The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) weighed up spending on health, education and taking care of other social needs in relation to each country’s whole budget, to rate how serious governments were about nurturing children.
Less wealthy countries were shown to plough a bigger slice of their spending into social projects, whereas richer countries, such as Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Sudan, put in a smaller proportion of their overall budget.
The study didn’t look at what factors were behind the difference in spending.
The ACPF’s director, David Mugawe called on African governments to make good on the promises they have made over the last 10 years, vowing to invest more in education and health. "We are both dismayed and disturbed by the gap between what we say and what we do in Africa for our children," Mugawe said.
"If Africa wants to achieve improved living standards and compete in the international arena we must invest in our children, and this must be reflected in our budget priorities,” he told Reuters news service.
Tanzania got the best rating on child-friendly spending because it spent a significant amount of its cash on health (nearly doubling its health budget) and boosted its contribution to immunisation. It also cut its already low military spending. Other countries that ranked well were Gabon, Senegal, Tunisia, Seychelles, Algeria, Cape Verde and South Africa for many of the same reasons as the top three countries. The countries that spent the smallest proportion of their budget on improving child wellbeing were Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Sudan.
Sudan and Angola put relatively low proportions of their budget (0.3 and 2.6 per cent respectively) into education, and about 50 per cent of pupils in primary schools do not reach the last grades, the report found. They made little or no contribution towards their national immunisation programmes despite the fact that more than 20 per cent of children in these countries have not been vaccinated again measles. Sudan was also one of the biggest spenders on military and security.