PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has said that where poverty abound, children suffer the most and all their hopes and aspirations are dashed.
He made the statement on Saturday in Dar es Salaam at the opening of the Fourth Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC). The president said UNICEF estimates that 22,000 children are dying each day due to a host of deprivations because of poverty. Many die quietly in some of the remotest and poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny of the watchful eye and the conscience of the world.
"It is equally sad to note that about 67 million children of primary school age in the developing world do not attend school and around 300 million children go to bed hungry every day," he said. He said Tanzania was also facing similar challenges as her counterparts in developing countries.
He stressed that in a country where 33 per cent of the people live below the poverty line, certainly there are many children affected and suffering from poverty. But he said the government has been taking a number of measures to address the challenges of poverty in the country and child poverty is being given particular attention.
"We have adopted an all inclusive approach because this matter is multi-stakeholder in character and involves many actors." He commended the organizers for choosing a very opportune theme for this Forum 'Ending Poverty, Enriching Children: Inspire. Act. Change."
He also said that it was a statement of fact that where poverty has been ended, children benefit. "Overall, out of 2.2 billion children on this planet, nearly half are severely deprived of at least one of the essential goods and services they require to survive, grow and develop to fulfilling adulthood."
He further said that so many children are losing their lives to easily preventable diseases or malnutrition, and others are being murdered in armed conflicts. "Unfortunately, a number of these conflicts are caused by religious extremism and fanaticism."
Furthermore, intolerable numbers are dying from HIV/ AIDS before reaching adulthood, and many more suffer from discrimination, hostility and violence, he said.
The president said that he was happy with the increasing global awareness and readiness to take action to fight and improve the lives of children. He noted that there were many international, regional and national conventions, protocols, proclamations, instruments and laws which are geared toward addressing the many challenges and needs for children on this planet.
He mentioned that the challenge is about ensuring the objectives of these instruments are implemented to the latter and spirits. We are beginning to witness positive results, but a lot more needs to be done. "There are too many children who are still left out which calls for continued concerted efforts at national, regional and international levels," he said.
President Kikwete said that: "In my view, tackling child related poverty requires two pronged interventions. The first one is to assist families of the children become prosperous so that the children will live a poverty free environment." "The second is actually informed by the fact that it may take time before poor families can become prosperous. In this regard, children should not be left to wait for so long."
He said children from poor families need nutrition, education, health care and protection so that they can live in dignity, survive and grow to become productive human beings in society.