Day of the African Child: Are children a priority in National Budgets

June 16 marked the Day of the African child, the day when thousands of innocent children went into the streets to voice their concerns over the inferiority of education provided to black children in South-Africa.

While Africa commemorates the day, governments should reflect on how they are progressively moving towards the realisation of Articles 4, 11, 14, 19, 21, 24, 26 and 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, writes Petronella Murowe, training and capacity-building specialist in the Economic Governance Programme of African democracy institute, Idasa. The right to education, health and social protection are some of the key aspects that governments need to progressively allocate resources to as they are basic to child development.

This year, the theme is “Planning and Budgeting for Children: our Collective Responsibility”. As we reflect on this theme, how much is trickling down from the national budget to reach and provide for children’s needs. Children in Africa struggle for survival, are victims of war, and often have to walk at least 30kms to reach the nearest school and clinic. Access to medication and other basic services remains a challenge, despite government putting in place various child protection laws.

Even as countries like Lesotho and Botswana expand access to primary education through the provision of free primary education, their efforts are undermined by the failure to address the problem of culturally ingrained practices such as child labour. In countries in political transition, like Zimbabwe, children only received less than sixty days of schooling in 2009. Girls in Mali and Senegal are still forced into early marriages and have very low levels of education; access to vaccination among some groups in Nigeria is still very low, putting children at increased risk of disease such as polio, a disease that has been eradicated in most countries.
While children and all of Africa celebrated 16 June, did we truly recognise children in an honest and meaningful way? Or do we continue to look at them as voiceless souls? While children across the African continent celebrated this international day of recognition, the true day of recognition is yet to come. Recognition and value for the true worth of the African child will come only when their voices are truly heard and governments make an investment in their collective future. The day to celebrate will be when governments, communities and families begin to create the space for children to be both heard and seen and make a contribution on decisions that affect them. We will truly celebrate when there is a decline in the number of children living in poverty; an end to social inequality; child trafficking; child slavery and other gross violations of children’s rights.

Idasa opposed to Reserve Bank amendments

Idasa has expressed opposition to the South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill — and its provisions to limit shareholder power. In submissions to Parliament during public hearings on the bill, Idasa and the University of Western Cape School of Business and Finance argued on principle, rather than from self- interest, that the amendments were ill-advised. Idasa’s head of research Nancy Dubosse said the proposed presidential nomination of directors would undermine the independence of the Bank. It was improper for the Bank to be managed by politicians, she said. Parliament’s oversight role should be strengthened and it should vet shareholder nominations, not a panel.  Read the Business day article here and the full submission on the Idasa site here.

Call for papers – Governance and small scale agriculture in West Africa

African democracy institute Idasa will hold a “Governance and Small-scale Agriculture in West Africa” conference in Nairobi, Kenya from 8th to 10th November 2010 to focus discussions on addressing informational gaps in the sector and open avenues for dialogue and engagement in relevant national and international platforms with stakeholders who have an interest in smallholder agriculture.

The aim of the conference is to discuss governance and public investment processes and how these are shaping small-scale agriculture in the region. Specifically, the meeting will focus on three themes: priorities for public investment in agriculture; trends in public expenditure on small-scale agriculture; and policy processes and stakeholder participation.

Abstracts and final papers from West African participants from the region will be accorded preference. To submit an abstract for presentation, and for more information on the conference please contact Leslie Nyagah at by May 31st. Click here for more info.

Reforming the IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a special agency of the United Nations with 186 member countries, to which it provides policy and technical assistance and funding. The IMF is a core International Financial Institution (IFI) and an influential funding body which has influence over developing countries’ economic and other policies.

IFIs are the largest source of development finance in the world.  Therefore the decisions they take and the way these decisions are made have a substantial impact on developing countries. In 2008, civil society was asked to present recommendations on IMF Governance Reform and below are some of the results from this process.

Idasa participated in the discussion and gave a number of recommendations.  Continue reading

Afrobarometer – Democracy in Africa

Read the latest releases from Afrobarometer on the following topics:

The Evolution of African Political Regimes in the last 10 years; Poverty Reduction, Economic Growth and Democratisation in Southern Africa; African Media and Telecommunications; and Citizens and Democratisation.

See these releases here.

Africa and the International Financial Crisis

How will the current global financial crisis affect Africa? Many African countries economies (and by implication, their stability) rely heavily on commodities, and the recent financial crisis and related commodity fluctuations will have some impact.

A recent report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says “Uncertainty and instability in international financial, currency and commodity markets, coupled with doubts about the direction of monetary policy in some major developed countries, are contributing to a gloomy outlook for the world economy and could present considerable risks for the developing world.”

See this Africa focus bulletin here,

an article on Financial Turmoil and Africa here

and share your opinions below.