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Children and young people

One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

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Child Under-weight and Agricultural Productivity in India: Implications for Public Provisioning and Women’s Agency

19 Jan 2017 04:10:05 GMT

The well-known pathways that link agriculture to child nutrition are food, quality of food, and care of feeding. Further, agricultural productivity growth contributes significantly to poverty reduction and reduction in child undernutrition. Care of children and feeding practices depend upon women’s knowledge, and hence women’s education and their freedom to act are closely related to child nutrition.

A recent global hunger index indicated a 12 percent decline in child underweight rates. This study attempts an empirical explanation of the factors that influence child underweight rates at the district level.
The aim of the paper is to look at the association of the proportion of underweight children, with the overall agricultural productivity, women’s agency, child and maternal health status, and the available public services across 430 districts in India with the help of linear regressions and quantile regressions.
Agricultural land productivity, share of women educated above the secondary level and participating in work, maternal, and child health seem to contribute to the reduction in child underweight. However government health and water supply facilities turn out to be ineffective.

Mobilizing young people as climate-smart agriculture infomediaries: what do we know?

20 Dec 2016 05:12:11 GMT

While efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change have generally increased, the impression is that there is a negligible effort to include the vulnerable areas in the agenda. This paper seeks to fill in the gap by presenting an agricultural extension mechanism to tap high school students as information providers of climate-smart rice agriculture information in their rice-farming communities. This paper looks at the characteristics of the high school students who served as infomediaries as well as their information sources and perceptions on climate change; the best teaching media that can be used; and the infomediation pathways that can be drawn from this initiative. 

Two survey rounds, 2014 and 2015, were used as data sources. Focus group discussions and interviews were also conducted. Chi-square tests were also employed. Data show that females are more likely to be infomediaries than males. Schools serve as the primary sources of information on climate change, and students generally equate climate change to extreme weather events such as drought. Various teaching media explored seem to be useful in various development contexts. Teachers are seen as the champions of this initiative. Hence, this initiative rests heavily on the extent of capacity enhancement that can be extended to the teachers so they are in a better position to train their students in the future.

Averting 'New Variant Famine' in Southern Africa: building food-secure livelihoods with AIDS-affected young people

06 Dec 2016 12:19:41 GMT

Numerous reports have linked AIDS’ impacts on young people and their long term food insecurity, through, for instance, orphans’ failure to inherit property and resources; inability to retain rights to land which they are too young or inexperienced to farm; or interruption of intergenerational knowledge transfer following parental deaths. Hitherto, however, reports have only addressed isolated aspects of young people’s livelihood prospects, and most lack substantive evidence. Impacts of AIDS on young people’s attitudes and dispositions remain neglected.  responds to the clear need to understand better how AIDS affects young people’s livelihood participation in varying geographical/livelihood contexts.

The research covered in this report aimed to generate new, in- depth understanding of how AIDS, in interaction with other factors, is impacting on the livelihood activities, opportunities and choices of young people in rural southern Africa. This was intended to support the development of policies and interventions that enhance AIDS- affected young people’s prospects of achieving sustainable, food -secure livelihoods throughout the region.

Averting ‘New Variant Famine’ in Southern Africa: building food-secure rural livelihoods with AIDS-affected young people

02 Dec 2016 04:51:34 GMT

Southern Africa is experiencing the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates alongside recurrent food crises. This has prompted scholars to hypothesise a 'New Variant Famine' in which inability to access food is driven by the effects of AIDS. In line with this, it has been suggested that the impacts of AIDS on young people today is likely to diminish their prospects of food security in adult life. In particular, children whose parents die of AIDS may fail to inherit land or other productive assets, and transmission of knowledge and skills between the generations may be disrupted, leaving young people ill-prepared to build food-secure livelihoods for themselves. However, prior to this research, those propositions were largely untested.

The ‘Averting New Variant Famine’ research project was therefore undertaken to generate new, in-depth understanding of how AIDS, in interaction with other factors, is impacting on the livelihood activities, opportunities and choices of young people in rural southern Africa.

The research was conducted in two villages in Malawi and Lesotho, two of the worst affected countries. The fieldwork comprised four elements:

  • community and household profiling to provide a contextual understanding of livelihood responses to sickness and death, and in particular how young people are incorporated in livelihood strategies
  • participatory research with more than thirty 10-24-year-olds in each community (around half of whom were affected by AIDS) to explore their aspirations, means of accessing livelihood opportunities, obstacles faced and decision-making processes
  • semi-structured interviews with policy makers and other key informants to explore the linkages with macro-level policies and processes
  • life history interviews with more than twenty 18-24 year olds in each village to explore the factors shaping their lifecourses and livelihoods

There are a number of policy recommendations arising from the research:

  • focusing on increasing school attendance (which has hitherto been the main response to the impacts of AIDS on young people) is an inadequate response. Education needs to be much more relevant to the livelihood options available to the majority of rural youth
  • rural young people would benefit particularly from opportunities for vocational skills training, but also business education and the identification of opportunities that rely not only on the local market, if they are to engage successfully in rural enterprise
  • although fertiliser subsidies, food aid and food for work programmes are aimed principally at securing immediate subsistence rather than buildingassets for the future, they can free young people’s time and energy to devote to activities with secure long term prospects
  • equally, cash transfers, including those directed at elderly people, can help young people do business and find employment by putting more cash into local circulation
  • significantly, however, the project findings do not support the targeting of interventions specifically at AIDS-affected young people

Political violence, drought and child malnutrition: empirical evidence from Andhra Pradesh, India

22 Nov 2016 03:41:31 GMT

Households in developing countries have to cope with a myriad of uncertain events, some of which may happen simultaneously. One important example is the interplay between climatic shocks and violent conflict.Although the extent to which conflict and disasters interact differs across countries and contexts, in general, people living in fragile and conflict-affected states find it harder to cope with natural disasters given the impact of violence and instability on health, basic service provision, social cohesion, mobility opportunities and livelihoods.

Existing evidence on how individuals, households and communities cope simultaneously with violence and natural disasters is, however, largely anecdotic and descriptive. This is partially due to lack of data, but also to challenges in identifying empirical causal effects when endogeneity biases may be potentially large.

The objective of this paper is to address this gap in the literature by analysing the combined effect of exposure to political violence and drought on child nutrition. The context of the analysis is the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which was for several decades affected by a left-wing (Naxal) guerilla insurgency. Households in Andhra Pradesh face in addition cyclical climatic shocks that affect the nutrition levels of their children, often quite severely.

The paper shows two important results. First, drought exerts a strong impact on malnutrition, but only when it occurs in a violent environment. Second, the authors found that political violence exerts a long term impact on child malnutrition only indirectly, when the combination of conflict with drought prevents households to appropriately protect their children against adverse nutritional shocks. Although existing data does not show irrefutable evidence for the mechanisms at play, analysis strongly suggests that the adverse combined welfare impact of conflict and drought is explained by a failure of economic coping strategies and restricted access to public services and aid in conflict affected communities, possibly due to fear, insecurity and isolation.

Association between malaria and malnutrition among children aged under-five years in Adami Tulu District, south-central Ethiopia: a case-control study

21 Nov 2016 04:21:00 GMT

Background: Malaria and malnutrition are the major causes of morbidity and mortality in under-five children in developing countries such as Ethiopia. Malnutrition is the associated cause for about half of the deaths that occur among under-five children in developing countries. However, the relationship between malnutrition and malaria is controversial still, and it has also not been well documented in Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to assess whether malnutrition is associated with malaria among under-five children.

Methods: A case–control study was conducted in Adami Tulu District of East Shewa Zone in Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia. Cases were all under-five children who are diagnosed with malaria at health posts and health centres. The diagnosis was made using either rapid diagnostic tests or microscopy. Controls were apparently healthy under-five children recruited from the community where cases resided. The selection of the controls was based on World Health Organization (WHO) cluster sampling method. A total of 428 children were included. Mothers/caretakers of under-five children were interviewed using pre-tested structured questionnaire prepared for this purpose. The nutritional status of the children was assessed using an anthropometric method and analyzed using WHO Anthro software. A multivariate logistic analysis model was used to determine predictors of malaria.

Results: Four hundred twenty eight under-five children comprising 107 cases and 321 controls were included in this study. Prevalence of wasting was higher among cases (17.8 %) than the controls (9.3 %). Similarly, the prevalence of stunting was 50.5 % and 45.2 % among cases and controls, respectively. Severe wasting [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) =2.9, 95 % CI (1.14, 7.61)] and caretakers who had no education [AOR = 3, 95 % CI (1.27, 7.10)] were independently associated with malarial attack among under-five children.

Conclusion: Children who were severely wasted and had uneducated caretakers had higher odds of malarial attack. Therefore, special attention should be given for severely wasted children in the prevention and control of malaria.

How are young people in South Africa using mobile phones to bridge healthcare gaps?

17 Nov 2016 10:21:29 GMT

Young people account for 30% of the population in South Africa, with just under 15 million young people aged 10 – 24 years. Adolescence is considered a time of both risk and opportunity: When rapid physical and psychological changes may lead to a rise in risk behaviour, substance abuse, sexual and reproductive health problems, violence and mental illness.2 Adolescent health and behaviour are also key determinants of the adult burden of disease. It is therefore critical to invest in youth friendly services that promote physical and mental health, and enable young people to successfully navigate the challenges of adolescence and take on adult responsibilities.

Young people experience a range of barriers that limit their access to healthcare services including transport costs, clinic hours clashing with school timetables, negative attitudes from healthcare workers and a lack of privacy and confidentiality.

The rapid development of information and communication technology (ICTs) – particularly access to mobile phones – has the potential to address these challenges and improve young people’s access to health-related information and services, especially in poor, remote settings. The World Health Organisation has recognised how mobile health (m-health) programmes have the potential to bring services closer to adolescents by providing 24-hour access and confidential, anonymous and personalised interactions.

While there has been significant investment in m-health initiatives across Africa, little research has been done on how young people actually use mobile phones to seek healthcare – insight that is critical in understanding how the uptake of new ICTs might entrench and/or disrupt health inequalities. This research brief presents key findings from a study led by Durham Universityi to investigate the use of mobile phones amongst youth in Sub-Saharan Africa and considers the implications for policy and practice.

Specific recommendations:

  • improve access and coverage especially in rural areas.ii This includes lobbying government and service providers to extend coverage, reduce data costs and/or provide free access to m-health initiatives and government services
  • improve digital literacy through initiatives that target in- and out-of-school youth and adolescents so that they are empowered and enabled to navigate the unregulated digital world and evaluate the trustworthiness of online information
  • engage with young people and youth organisations to develop m-health resources that are responsive to young peoples’ real needs
  • strengthen links between m-health initiatives and youth-friendly clinics and school health services to ensure that health-seeking behaviour is supported by access to quality healthcare
  • raise public awareness about m-health initiatives to increase uptake through carefully targeted multimedia campaigns, public service announcements, school health services, and youth-friendly clinics
  • regulate medical advertising, particularly advertising that targets young people

Learning from young people about their lives: using participatory methods to research the impacts of AIDS in southern Africa

15 Nov 2016 12:52:36 GMT

Methods of participatory research have become popular among children’s geographers as they are believed to enable young people to speak openly about their lives in unthreatening contexts. In this paper the authors reflect on their experience of using participatory methods to explore the sensitive topic of (indirect) impacts of AIDS on young people’s livelihoods in Malawi and Lesotho.
The paper examines how different methodological approaches generate varying knowledges of children’s lived realities; challenges of using ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ research assistants, place of group-based approaches in participatory research and ethical issues. The authors suggest that researchers of young people’s lives should take full account of the relationship between epistemology and methodology in selecting and employing methods appropriate to particular research questions.

Averting ‘New Variant Famine’ in Southern Africa: building food secure rural livelihoods with AIDS-affected young people

15 Nov 2016 04:22:34 GMT

Southern Africa is experi-encing the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates alongside recurrent food crises. This has prompted scholars to hypothesise a 'New Variant Famine' in which inability to access food is driven by the ef-fects of AIDS. In line with this, it has been suggested that the impacts of AIDS on young people today is likely to diminish their prospects of food security in adult life. In particular, children whose parents die of AIDS may fail to inherit land or other pro-ductive assets, and trans-mission of knowledge and skills between the genera-tions may be disrupted, leaving young people ill-prepared to build food-secure livelihoods for themselves. However, prior to this research, those propositions were largely untested.

The ‘Averting New Vari-ant Famine’ research pro-ject was therefore under-taken to generate new, in-depth understanding of how AIDS, in interaction with other factors, is im-pacting on the livelihood activities, opportunities and choices of young peo-ple in rural southern Africa.

Research was conducted in two villages in Malawi and Lesotho, two of the worst affected countries, and fieldwork included participatory research with 10-24-year-olds in each community (around half of whom were affected by AIDS) to explore their aspirations, means of accessing livelihood oppor-tunities, obstacles faced and decision-making processes.

Policy recommendations:

  • focusing on increasing school attendance is an inadequate response
  • rural young people would benefit particularly from opportunities for vocational training and development of market opportunities
  • measures to improve access to productive assets such as land
  • social protection measures that allow young people to devote their energies to accruing livelihood assets to depend on in the long term
  • however, targeting of AIDS-affected youth is not advocated

Shame, social exclusion and the effectiveness of anti-poverty programmes

15 Nov 2016 02:55:59 GMT

A two year qualitative investigation of the nature and consequences of shame associated with poverty was conducted in seven settings located in rural Uganda and India; urban China, Pakistan, Korea and United Kingdom; and small town and urban Norway. The research presented results consistent with the thesis that the shame is always associated with poverty and that this may reduce personal efficacy and contribute to the duration and prevalence of poverty, a process that may be aggravated by policies that stigmatise recipients of social protection.

The research explores the contention that shame is a universal attribute of poverty which is common to people experiencing poverty in all societies. It investigates whether shame has internal and external components such that people are shamed because they are poor and feel shame due to being poor - and that both reduce individual agency and increase social exclusion.

The research initially seeks within different cultural settings to:

  • explore the social construction of shame (including its synonyms and antonyms) as expressed in public discourse
  • identify the cultural coincidence of shame and poverty as revealed in public discourse

Because personal experiences and public understanding of poverty are shaped by cultural expectations and resource constraints, the research will:

  • investigate how publics conceptualise poverty and people in poverty and whether in thought or deed they contribute to shaming people in poverty
  • explore how people directly experience poverty, social exclusion and shame and recognise connections between them

Children’s mobility in Ghana: an SBHA Special Issue

15 Nov 2016 02:18:17 GMT

Children throughout Sub-Saharan Africa are extraordinarily mobile. Every day children travel to school, to markets, to fetch water and firewood, to work on farms and take farm produce to grinding mills, as well as to visit friends and family and to play. However, children’s mobility is relatively invisible: most journeys that children undertake cover short distances and the vast majority are on foot. As such, very little research has been conducted into the extent of children’s mobility and impacts on education, livelihoods, health and well-being.

In this special issue of Society, Biology and Human Affairs, a group of Ghanian scholars co-ordinated by guest editors Drs Gina Porter and Kate Hampshire, present the results of various aspects of a larger project on ‘Children, Transport and Mobility in Sub-Saharan Africa’, by presenting a series of papers on children’s mobility in Ghana.

Research used an innovative child-centred approach, in which 70 children (aged 11-19 when they started the project) received training and supervision to conduct research on mobility issues among their peers in their home communities.

Article titles include:

  • Children’s mobility in Ghana: An overview of methods and findigns from the Ghana research study
  • Work and happiness: Children’s activities in Ghana
  • Child labour or skills training? A rights-based analysis of children’s contributions to household survival in Ghana
  • Child fostering and education in Ghana
  • Exploring the influence of household internal migration and parents’ main livelihood activities on children’s occupational aspirations in Ghana
  • Mobility and economic constraints as key barriers to children’s healthseeking in Ghana
  • Moving on two wheels

While the papers underline how mobile children in Ghana are, both on a daily basis and undertaking longer-term movements, another key issue to emerge from the study was the limitations and constraints that children face in terms of mobility. Getting to schools, health centres, markets, and other places that they need or want to go, is often very difficult. The difficulties can be particularly acute for those living in remote rural areas, but even children living in urban and peri-urban settlements often struggle to travel around their communities easily and safely. Large distances, high costs of public transport, infrequent transport services to rural areas, and dangers experienced while traveling (such as the risks of traffic accidents, or encountering hazards along the way) mean that daily journeys to school, for example, could become a major ordeal, and even unfeasible for some children.

Income generating activities as components of sustainable rural livelihoods for young southern Africans - AIDS and other constraints

15 Nov 2016 01:33:36 GMT

The literature dedicated to exploring rural livelihoods in southern Africa has devoted comparatively little attention to non-agricultural livelihoods, as several authors have pointed out. This gap in knowledge about non-agricultural livelihoods is also reflected in the literature looking at the effects of AIDS on rural livelihoods in Southern Africa. In general, research focusing on the effects of AIDS on livelihoods has also tended to neglect effects on young people’s abilities to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves in the future, and consequently, AIDS-affected young people’s abilities to engage in non-agricultural livelihoods have been even less explored.

This paper reports on a study with rural young people (aged 10-24 years) in Malawi and Lesotho, focusing on their opportunities to learn skills and access capital and assets to engage in income generating activities (IGAs). Participatory group exercises and individual interviews provide many examples of how young people learn skills and start small businesses, as well as insight into their strategic thinking around engaging in these livelihood options.

Various factors, including the effects of AIDS, are shown to affect young people’s prospects of succeeding in their ventures. Young people are themselves very keen on starting IGAs, and are supported by adult members of their communities in asking for interventions to help them do so. The paper argues that expanded vocational and business training, focusing on locally appropriate types and scale of businesses, coupled with help to raise start-up capital has the potential to improve poor and/or AIDS-affected young people’s chances of securing sustainable rural livelihoods in their futures.

Since AIDS is intertwined with many other issues affecting young people’s livelihoods, it is however problematic to single out and target only AIDS-affected young people with interventions on skills building and IGAs. Policy makers’ attitudes to vocational skills training and support for IGAs in Malawi and Lesotho are also explored, and policy recommendations made in relation to supporting vulnerable rural young people in their attempts to build sustainable livelihoods for themselves.

Young people are themselves very keen to learn various skills and to try running small businesses, and often mention IGAs when asked about future plans and aspirations. Adult community members also talk about wishing that vocational skills training and loans for businesses were available to young people locally, and in participatory dissemination activities with the communities, these issues were mentioned repeatedly when generating recommendations for governments and NGOs.

Changing children's geographies

11 Nov 2016 12:44:22 GMT

The social approach to childhood, though having earlier antecedents, flourished from the 1990s onwards in geographies of children, youth and families. Some researchers such as Matthews came to this from a history in children’s environmental cognition, but this shift in sub-disciplinary approach was also in large measure shaped by the advent of interest from new researchers with backgrounds in feminist, Marxist and post-structural approaches. This in part explains the lack of a hard-fought intellectual struggle over a ‘paradigm shift’: this new wave of researchers often took their inspiration from elsewhere (seeing spatial cognition as largely irrelevant to their concerns). This social approach to children’s geographies – which concentrated on understanding children’s experiences as subjects in the world, rather than their abilities to perceive space – was further fuelled by the changing global landscapes which have elevated children’s position on the political agenda.

This keynote explores the changing nature of children’s geographies as an academic project. It proceeds in four parts. Part 1 considers the shift away from research on children’s spatial cognition which envisaged the child in largely biological terms, and contemplates contemporary efforts to rework the nature/culture dualism. Part 2 traces the incorporation of new social studies of childhood into geography, emphasising the importance of children’s voices, their positioning within axes of power, and the need for quantitative and qualitative methods. Part 3 explores how feminist research led to interest in parents, educators and other actors/institutions which shape, and are shaped by, children’s lives. Part 4 ponders what children’s geographies might add to, and learn from, broader interdisciplinary debates, and the benefits and pitfalls of research impact. The conclusion argues that a well-informed appreciation of sub-disciplinary history provides a strong vantage point from which to engage with new ways of thinking.


Agency and advocacy: disabled students in Higher Education in Ghana and Tanzania

11 Nov 2016 11:12:46 GMT

Between 10% and 15% of the world’s population are thought to be disabled. The 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an example of emerging global policy architecture for human rights for disabled people. Article 24 states that disabled people should receive the support required to facilitate their effective education. In research, links between higher education access, equalities and disability are being explored by scholars of the sociology of higher education. However, with the exception of some small-scale studies from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Rwanda, Namibia, Uganda and Pakistan, literature tends to come from the global North. Yet there is a toxic correlation between disability and poverty – especially in the global South.

This article is based on a review of the global literature on disability in higher education and interview findings from the project ‘Widening Participation in Higher Education in Ghana and Tanzania: developing an Equity Scorecard’, (WPHEGT) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for International Development. A central finding was that while disability was associated with constraints, misrecognition, frustration, exclusion and even danger, students’ agency, advocacy and achievement in higher education offered opportunities for transforming spoiled identities.

The students in the WPHEGT study have shown their detailed knowledge of what they need to enable them to contribute to their societies materially and socially. Their narratives of struggle to succeed in education demonstrate the agency and advocacy that they have exercised individually and collectively through disabled people’s organisations. For many of the students, disability was at least partly about a positive identity rather than only about impairment.

It was the built environment and social relations that created difficulties for them as they sought to develop their capacities and realise their educational and professional potential. Questions remain about the disabled students who were unable to maintain the struggle to be educated in schools largely serving to select the few rather than educate all. The students in this study aspired to be advocates for other disabled people as they sought to redefine what it means to be a disabled person in Ghana and Tanzania. Universities need to provide an education in learning to live together, for disabled and non-disabled students alike. As a pivotal knowledge hub, HE needs to play an enhanced role in the creation and dissemination of knowledge by and with disabled people in order to challenge prejudice and promote social inclusion. In a globalised knowledge economy, the value of HE needs to be seen in terms of social justice, well-being, wealth distribution and poverty alleviation, and not only as wealth creation.

Youth-led accountability for the SDGs

11 Nov 2016 02:05:08 GMT

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have set out an ambitious agenda for global development for the next fifteen years, leading up to 2030. Empowering young people to hold governments and duty-bearers accountable is one of the most important means of implementation for an agenda that “leaves no one behind”.

More than half the world is currently under the age of 30 but decision-making processes largely remain in the hands of older generations. Young people, particularly young women, are not adequately represented in formal political processes or institutions - including parliaments, political parties, elections, and public administrations. Young people are also among the hardest hit by the effects of poverty, climate change and inequality.

Despite these barriers to participation in formal or conventional spaces, young people are frequently at the forefront of change and development, such as mass citizen and digital activism. Where traditional structures are failing to include them, young people are finding new ways to engage. Youth have driven many of the high impact social movements of recent years (e.g. on climate change and inequality) characterised by self-organising and the innovative use of new technologies. Youth-led action can help governments fill gaps in implementation, follow-up and monitoring, as well as programmes and policy.

Key principles to enable youth-led accountability: inclusion, responsiveness, collaboration, transparency:

  • inclusion: actively engaging the most marginalised young people to promote social and political inclusion and ensuring effective opportunities and resources (information, capacities) to participate in the accountability processes
  • responsiveness: government officials listening, responding to and acting upon the inputs of young people
  • collaboration: governments and stakeholders working actively with young people through mechanisms and structures that encourage interaction and discourse
  • transparency: young people having access to government data relevant to their policy focus areas. Political processes are widely publicised and communicated

Gender, youth and urban labour market participation: evidence from the tailoring sector in Kabul, Afghanistan

11 Nov 2016 01:21:46 GMT

The creation of good jobs and decent work in conflict-affected places is widely seen to generate not just better-off households, but also safer societies and more legitimate states. However, so much of the good jobs agenda is dominated by technical approaches more concerned with balancing out supply and demand than with serious analysis of the role of institutions, identity and power in mediating access to opportunities. This study is about understanding how labour markets actually work in insecure and dynamic contexts, with a particular focus on: how young women and men acquire skills and enter the urban labour market in the first place, particularly in light of the highly gendered nature of boundaries between public and private spacewhat the nature, terms and limits of their labour market participation look like; andwhether participation in that urban labour market is working for or against them (in terms of its effects on various dimensions of their wellbeing).More specifically, it looks at young women’s and men’s experiences in Kabul’s tailoring labour market.labour market participation are socially regulated and deeply gendered. Networks matter, and labour market outcomes have a strong relational dimension to them. For example, gaining the support of key male figures (fathers, uncles, husbands) appears important for young women wanting to enter the sector, and, for young men, access to tailoring ‘apprenticeships’ (informal, but widespread) is largely dependent on social connections and the relationship between teachers and students’ parents. Second, the multiple ways in which women’s access to the market is regulated can be understood as a kind of informal tax on women’s livelihoods. The combination of years of unpaid labour, a more limited and lower quality skill-set relative to male tailors, and restricted access to various parts of the physical marketplace works to reduce economic returns for most women (although examples of real success are also apparent, but in far smaller numbers). And third, participation in the tailoring labour market has quite different meanings for young women compared to young men: while for the latter, the acquisition of tailoring skills is often seen as forming an economic safety net when times get tough – a long-term Plan B, as it were – for women, participation is much more about the hard-won outcome of a struggle against institutional bounds on economic activity. In some ways, the very act of being able to operate visibly in the urban labourmarket constitutes if not a major achievement, then at least a symbol of resistance against the (highly patriarchal) social rules of the game. However, the generally poor terms of women’s participation in the urban labour market serve to remind us that there is still a long way to go before we might consider calling this a good news story.These findings suggest that the labour market ultimately functions as a social economy: one’s access and participation are socially regulated not only by one’s networks, but also by institutionalised ideas about what is seen to constitute acceptable behaviour for different social groups. As such, donor programming seeking to create better work for young people in Afghanistan must start with the idea that labour markets both reflect and reinforce existing social inequality, and engage with the evidence showing how the constraints facing women and men in finding and staying in work are of a completely separate nature. In this context, the notion of ‘decent work’ cannot just be about increasing the supply of less insecure jobs, but rather demands practical engagement with the deeply g[...]

Nutritional improvement for children in urban Chile and Kenya

10 Nov 2016 10:22:49 GMT

Since 2010, the NICK study has sought to help two project countries, Chile and Kenya, reduce urban malnutrition in young children by facilitating intersectoral actions to change the social determinants. In urban Kenya chronic stunting is an endemic problem jeopardizing children’s physical and mental development. In urban Chile child overweight and obesity is a serious public health problem associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease.The 2010 and 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition identified the need for increased inter-sectoral action to address the complex causation of child malnutrition. The 2013 Series called for more studies to strengthen the evidence base for ‘nutrition sensitive’ programming to address the social determinants and find out what works and how programmes should be designed in specific country contexts. Now that more people worldwide are living in cities than rural areas, there have also been calls for more attention to be paid to the poorest and most vulnerable families living in urban informal settlements. The NICK study responds to these calls by addressing the question: Can child malnutrition amongst families living in poverty in informal settlements in the cities of Mombasa in Kenya, and Valparaíso in Chile, be reduced through broadening community and stakeholder participation to change the social determinants of nutritional status?Findings from the situational analysis confirmed that the social determinants of child malnutrition in the study areas were a broad range of social, economic and environmental factors operating at local, municipal, provincial and central levels. They included education, income, working conditions, housing, neighbourhood and community conditions, the status of women and level of social inclusion. These determinants impacted child nutrition through influencing access to nutritious foods, child care practices and access to basic services.Key lessons learnt: What works? What does not work?creating supportive environments for intersectoral actions: support is needed to enable group members to begin to think differently about the causes of child undernutrition and how to tackle them, to decide and implement mutually agreed co-ordinated action plans and to negotiate with line managers on the need for ensuring that group membership remains relatively stable. The in-country researchers in Kenya are continuing to be supportive of the urban nutrition working group as it now prepares to transform and transition into a county level nutrition working groupstrengthening community action: in Mombasa, three community self-help groups were identified, trained and supported to implement the action plans made by the working group. They too became part of the planning meetings to engender ownership. The community members began to appreciate the benefits of the interventions in their lives, and some decided to take further the actions to improve the material and nutritional status of their families. Some of the actions proposed and implemented to tackle domestic violence emerged from the community itselfdeveloping personal skills and growth: the NICK study has documented the development of personal skills and growth from both the nutrition working group and from the community groups. There has been a transition from initial awareness raising within the nutrition working group and the three community groups on the link between seemingly unrelated social determinants of poor nutrition to actively seeking new ways of co-ordinating actions to tackle them. L[...]

Intergenerational relations and the power of the cell phone: perspectives on young people's phone usage in Sub-Saharan Africa

08 Nov 2016 12:40:07 GMT

Cell phones present new forms of sociality and new possibilities of encounter for young people across the globe. Nowhere is this more evident than in sub-Saharan Africa where the scale of usage, even among the very poor, is remarkable.

This paper reflects on the inter-generational encounters which are embedded in young people’s cell phone interactions, and consider the wider societal implications, not least the potential for associated shifts in the generational balance of power. An intriguing feature of this changing generational nexus is that while many young people’s phone-based interactions, from their mid-teens onwards, are shifting away from the older generation towards friendship networks in their own age cohort, at the same time they are repositioning themselves – or becoming repositioned – as family information hubs, as a consequence of their phone expertise.

The paper draws on mixed-methods research with young people aged c. 9–25 years and in-depth interviews with older age-groups in 24 sites (ranging from high density poor urban to remote rural) across Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.

Evidence suggests that a generational power-struggle is being played out on a daily basis in many urban and rural homes across the continent: recourse to subterfuge is, on both sides, an inevitable response. With increasingly cheap, imported Chinese handsets and rapid reduction in phone-related costs, however, parental control is probably slipping, especially when young people (by virtue of their phone skills) take on – or are bestowed with – a hub role in family networks. There is limited evidence, for instance, of successful surveillance by elders, since young people’s phone competency increasingly contains surveillance efforts and associated supervision. The cell phone is changing the rules regarding who interacts with whom (and how). Cell phone diffusion thus arguably marks a significant step in the intergenerational power shift in Africa from disproportionately gerontocratic and patrimonial systems towards a new, increasingly technologically-shaped era where young people – of both genders – play a much more proactive role in society.

Mobile phones and education in Sub-Saharan Africa: from youth practice to public policy

08 Nov 2016 12:09:14 GMT

Young people's use of mobile phones is expanding exponentially across Africa. Its transformative potential is exciting, but findings presented in this paper indicate how the downside of mobile phone use in African schools is becoming increasingly apparent. Drawing on mixed-methods field research in 24 sites across Ghana, Malawi and South Africa and associated discussions with educational institutions, public policy makers and network providers, we examine the current state of play and offer suggestions towards a more satisfactory alignment of practice and policy which promotes the more positive aspects of phone use in educational contexts and militates against more damaging ones.

Through this paper, the authors aim to contribute to demands for a more substantial body of evidence in African contexts. Mixed-methods field research in 24 sites across Ghana, Malawi and South Africa and associated discussions with mobile phone network providers, educational institutions and policy makers suggests that while there are some positive aspects of mobile phone use for African pupils, their downside is also becoming increasingly apparent, especially in urban and peri-urban sites.

This research start with some background details (key literature, study methodology and phone ownership and usage), and then charts available evidence of positive educational value of mobile phones in the research sites before moving on to examine a range of negative impacts associated with youth (and teacher) practice. The paper then asks how, and to what extent, should and can public policy address issues such as phone-related classroom disruption (whether caused by pupil or teachers' phones), lengthy periods spent by young people on social network sites, disruption in adolescent sleep patterns associated with cheap night calls and widespread circulation of pornography? The final section of the paper considers the potential to address some of the most negative aspects of phone use in educational contexts and to promote more positive aspects through engagement with policy makers.

Teenage childbearing and educational attainment in South Africa

08 Nov 2016 11:04:52 GMT

Teenage childbearing and attainment at school in South Africa are investigated using nationally-representative data from the National Income Dynamics Study. The analysis focuses on the outcomes by 2010 of a panel of 673 childless young women aged 15–18 in 2008. Girls who had their first birth by 2010 had 4.4 times the odds of leaving school and 2.2 times the odds of failing to matriculate, controlling for other factors. Girls from the highest-income households were unlikely, and girls who were behind at school relatively likely, to give birth. More than half the new mothers enrolled in school in 2010. They were most likely to enroll if they were rural residents who resided with their own mother and she had attended secondary school.

Poor educational attainment, teenage motherhood and childhood poverty are interrelated problems in South Africa: for middle-class families, avoiding early motherhood contributes to the intergenerational transmission of privilege. Dissuading girls in their mid-teens who are behind at school from becoming teenage mothers may require intervention at an earlier stage of their schooling.

A community-­driven approach to reducing teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone: midline evaluation brief

08 Nov 2016 10:36:14 GMT

Preliminary evidence from a 2009 global evidence review suggested that community-based child protection mechanisms are likely to be more effective and sustainable if they are linked with formal aspects of the child protection system. To test the value of nonformal-formal linkages, this action research uses a quasi-experimental design to test the effectiveness of a community owned and driven intervention that seeks to reduce teenage pregnancy.In each of Moyamba and Bombali Districts, there were two clusters of three communities in different but comparable chiefdoms. One cluster was an intervention cluster, whereas the other was a comparison cluster. In the intervention clusters, community members from three villages worked collaboratively to develop an intervention that addressed a child protection concern of their choosing. In both intervention clusters, the communities elected to focus on teen pregnancy, an issue that had been documented as a key concern in previous ethnographic work. The intervention, which was developed by the community, included components on family planning, sexual and reproductive health education, and life skills and was implemented in partnership with NGOs and District Ministry of Health partners.Using a survey of adolescents (13-19 years of age), this study reports on mid-term (T2) changes in contrast to the baseline (T1) findings: exposure to the intervention was found to increase with age, and was particularly high among individuals who had a partner but were unmarried. The latter individuals had 1.7 times the odds of  attending a presentation when compared to those who were marriedbetween baseline (T1) and T2, the percentage of teenagers aged 15-17 in intervention areas who were willing to ask their partners to use a condom increased by 17.1 percentage points, whereas the control villages  showed a decrease of 6.2 percentage pointsgirls and adolescents under 15 years in intervention areas showed a significant increase in their intention to  use condoms regularly, while the opposite was true in control areassimilarly, adolescents who were exposed to the intervention’s programs were nearly twice as likely (1.74 times the odds) to report intending to say no to unwanted sexsexual activity was also found to have increased between T1 and T2 in control  areas,  while  no  increase occurred in intervention areas, suggesting possible signs of impact of the programSeveral lessons can be gleaned from these initial findings, which may influence future efforts. First and foremost, data from the T2 survey support  the proposed theory of change with some early evidence of changes in knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and behaviour around sexual health in the intervention communities in Moyamba and Bombali districts.  The findings around behaviour, specifically the intent to turn down unwanted sex and increase condom use, are promising, and point to the importance (and early effectiveness) of peer discussions of these sensitive topics in a comfortable, safe space. In particular, the increased willingness to ask a partner to use a condom and plans to use condoms in people under 18 is encouraging for future rounds of the project. By heightening awareness and shifting social norms in the generation of adolescents who are just becoming sexually active, change may follow in targeted outcome areas including pregnancy.   Combined with the perceived increased access to contraceptives in all areas, there are signs that t[...]

Children, transport and mobility in sub-Saharan Africa: developing a child-centred evidence base to improve policy and change thinking across Africa

08 Nov 2016 04:58:21 GMT

This project focused on the mobility constraints faced by children in accessing health, educational and other facilities in sub-Saharan Africa, lack of direct information on how these constraints impact on children's current and future livelihood opportunities, and lack of guidelines on how to tackle them. The aim was to produce an evidence-base strong enough to substantially improve policy in the three focus countries - Ghana, Malawi and South Africa - and to change thinking across Africa.

The project successfully tested and implemented an innovative two-strand, childcentred methodology, involving both academic researchers and 70 young researchers. Research was conducted in 8 sites per country (remote rural, rural with services, periurban and urban sites in two agro-ecological zones): 24 sites in total. The qualitative data covers the themes education, health, activities and transport, based on focus groups and individual interviews with children, parents and other key informants. The survey questionnaire covers a wide range of issues with 2,967 children c. 9-18 years, allowing comparisons across sites and countries. This large dataset enables a more nuanced understanding than has hitherto been available of the way mobility and transport constraints interact with other factors to shape particular young lives in particular places. Findings cover topics from pain and negative impacts on education associated with load carrying and other work, to the virtual mobility impacts of mobile phones and the complex interconnections between mobility, gender, work and education. The findings are sufficiently substantial to allow the development of clear guidelines for policy-makers and practitioners.

Adapting Agriculture Platforms for Nutrition: A Case Study of a Participatory, Video-Based Agricultural Extension Platform in India

08 Nov 2016 03:23:09 GMT

Successful integration of nutrition interventions into large-scale development programmes from nutrition-relevant sectors, such as agriculture, can address critical underlying determinants of undernutrition and enhance the coverage and effectiveness of on-going nutrition-specific activities. However, evidence on how this can be done is limited.

This study examines the feasibility of delivering maternal, infant, and young child nutrition behaviour change communication through an innovative agricultural extension programme serving nutritionally vulnerable groups in rural India. The existing agriculture programme involves participatory production of low-cost videos promoting best practices and broad dissemination through village-level women’s self-help groups. For the nutrition intervention, 10 videos promoting specific maternal, infant, and young child nutrition practices were produced and disseminated in 30 villages. A range of methods was used to collect data, including in-depth interviews with project staff, frontline health workers, and self-help group members and their families; structured observations of mediated video dissemination sessions; nutrition knowledge tests with project staff and self-help group members; and a social network questionnaire to assess diffusion of promoted nutrition messages.

The authors found the nutrition intervention to be well-received by rural communities and viewed as complementary to existing frontline health services. However, compared to agriculture, nutrition content required more time, creativity, and technical support to develop and deliver. Experimentation with promoted nutrition behaviours was high, but sharing of information from the videos with non-viewers was limited.

Key lessons learned include the benefits of and need for:

  • collaboration with existing health services
  • continued technical support for implementing partners
  • engagement with local cultural norms and beliefs
  • empowerment of women’s group members to champion nutrition
  • and enhancement of message diffusion mechanisms to reach pregnant women and mothers of young children at scale

Understanding the experience of developing and delivering this intervention will benefit the design of new nutrition interventions which seek to leverage agriculture platforms.

Identifying and tackling the social determinants of child malnutrition in urban informal settlements and slums: a cross national review of the evidence for action

08 Nov 2016 01:49:17 GMT

Urbanisation can bring many benefits the rate of change but in many developing countries the rate of change has been so fast and so dramatic that many cities have been unable to cope. Rapid, unplanned urbanisation has led to widespread social inequity and stratification, the rapid growth of informal settlements and slums, environmental degradation, heavy migrant inflows, and breakdown of the social support systems and networks.

It is not surprising, therefore, that there is a strong and well established link between child malnutrition and various dimensions of disadvantage in the urban setting. Child undernutrition has become an endemic problem in many poor urban areas of developing countries, jeopardizing the physical and mental development of growing children.

At the same time, social conditions and globalisation create the emerging risk of child overweight and obesity due to consumption of inappropriate foods, promoted as a part of the processes of globalization of food production systems, and lack of physical activity linked to changes in occupational and leisure activities. Many cities in the developing world are therefore facing a double burden of child under-nutrition and obesity and municipal governments are uniquely positioned to play a leading role in addressing these problems.

The primary aim of this structured literature review is to synthesize what is known about the effectiveness of interventions to reduce child malnutrition through changing the social determinants in poor urban areas of developing countries. The review focuses on child malnutrition because studies have shown that the early childhood years are the most critical. The importance of nutrition intervention throughout the lifecycle is also acknowledged.

A secondary aim is to draw out the implications of the findings for the further development of a three year research study known as the NICK Project (Nutritional Improvement for children in urban Chile and Kenya). This project aims to help two cities, Mombasa and Valparaiso, reduce child malnutrition in children less than five years of age living in poor urban areas of these cities by intervening at the municipal level to broaden community and stakeholder participation and provide exemplars of successful small-scale interventions that can change the social determinants. If successful, the innovative approach used in this study could serve as a useful guide for action in the cities of other high burden countries.

Factors shaping the HIV-competence of two primary schools in rural Zimbabwe

04 Nov 2016 04:36:05 GMT

School attendance often has positive impacts on the well-being of HIV-affected and HIV-vulnerable children in sub-Saharan Africa. In the context of the growing emphasis on the need for schools to go ‘beyond education’, international policy accords schools and teachers a central role in the care and protection of such children, particularly in relation to facilitating their school access and their health and well-being. However, much remains to be learned about (i) the readiness and ability of schools to take on these roles, and (ii) the impacts of wider contextual factors on school efforts.

This paper explores these issues through a multi-method study of two primary schools in a rural Zimbabwean province, one in a rural area and one in a small town. The rural school is located in a relatively settled rural farming settlement, and small-town primary school is located in a small roadside town. Compared to the small-town school, the rural school is associated with

  • higher levels of school attendance by HIV-affected children in its catchment area; and
  • higher well-being scores among HIV-affected children

The authors use the method of dichotomous case comparison, involving comparisons of very different cases, to flag up factors facilitating or hindering each school in providing support and care for HIV-affected children.

Inequities in under-five child nutritional status in South Africa: what progress has been made?

04 Nov 2016 03:27:15 GMT

Despite the emphasis given to poverty reduction in policy statements and a substantial increase in social spending, money-metric poverty has shown little improvement since South Africa's transition to democracy in 1994. Alternative approaches to measuring well-being and inequality may show a more positive trend.

This article uses the 2008 National Income Dynamics Study to assess the magnitude of inequalities in under-five child malnutrition ascribable to economic status. The article compares these results with those of Zere and McIntyre, who analysed similar data collected in 1993. In both cases, household income, proxied by per-capita household expenditure, was used as the indicator of socio-economic status. Children's heights and weights have increased since 1993 and being stunted or underweight has become less common. Furthermore, pro-rich inequalities in stunting and being underweight have significantly declined since the end of apartheid. This suggests that pro-poor improvements in child welfare have taken place. Policies that may have contributed to this include the Child Support Grant, introduced in 1998, and improvements in healthcare and the education of women.

The role of schools in supporting HIV-affected children in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review

04 Nov 2016 02:35:18 GMT

HIV-affected children (themselves sick/with sick parents/orphaned) are particularly vulnerable to poor nutrition, mental and physical health, sexual abuse and poverty - which consequently tend to have a negative impact on their school enrolment and academic progress.

Reviewing existing literature on schools and the health and well-being of vulnerable children, this literature review aims to address the following question:

What interventions have been made to improve school environments to facilitate support for the health and well-being of vulnerable children in Zimbabwe and similar socio-economic contexts in sub-Saharan Africa?

Establishing an overview of existing literature on this topic is essential to learn from previous experiences and identify what supplementary research is needed in order to fully understand the potential possibilities of school capacities to facilitate contexts of care and support for HIV-affected children.

This review has demonstrated positive correlations between school enrolment and the health of children, as well as acknowledged the potential of school-based interventions to support the health of children and promote their health knowledge. However, there is a need for schools to go beyond knowledge and provide more comprehensive support for HIV-affected and orphaned children, particularly in light of the dwindling capacity of struggling households to provide adequate care and support for children in their care. Rather than relying on the implementation of external resources to do this, there is a need to supplement existing research exploring the pathways through which some schools in challenging socio-economic contexts manage to support HIV-affected learners by drawing on already available resources and by involving local communities.

Furthermore, there is a need to explore the interface between schools and external organizations in order to strengthen supportive school environments. This should be done by developing the existing literature with more in-depth qualitative research focusing on children’s perspectives, allowing HIV-affected children to express how they experience the school environment and cope with adversity in their everyday lives.

Religion and child death in India

03 Nov 2016 12:37:24 GMT

On average the burden of disease and death is born primarily by poorer people within poorer countries.The high rates of child mortality in developing countries today constitute one of the harshest failures of development. It is estimated that about 10 million children die each year before their first birthday and that a fourth of these deaths occur in India.

The initial motivation of project disussed in this paper was to present and analyse evidence that challenges the conventional wisdom on the overwhelming importance of socio-economic status, introducing a systematic role for culture (identified here as religion). In India, Muslims have poorer socioeconomic status (SES) on average but they have persistently achieved substantially higher child survival rates than Hindus. This remarkable fact has escaped attention and analysis. An aspect of religion that is closely examined in this project is gender preference. This research also extends the analysis of religion differentials in health to look at religion differentials in education as this helps sort explanations in terms of investments in children vs healthy behaviours.

The author finds some evidence that the Muslim advantage in child survival may derive partly from the fact that they are less likely than Hindus to favour sons over daughters. The research shows that the Muslim advantage is greater for girl survival although they do have an advantage for boy survival. It is argued that this is related to their better maternal health - which is supported by the fact that most of the differential is apparent soon after birth. The author also argues that better maternal health is also related to lower son preference.

Research challenges, implicitly, the popular perception that the status of women in Muslim communities is lower than that of men, showing that it is even lower in Hindu communities. This research also undermines the argument that Muslims have “lower human capital” than Hindus because they have been discriminated against. It shows that they have stronger health capital and suggests that they may have stronger social capital, alongside their clearly weaker educational capital.

The equity impact of participatory women's groups to reduce neonatal mortality in India: secondary analysis of a cluster-randomised trial

03 Nov 2016 02:14:26 GMT

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been uneven. Inequalities in child health are large and effective interventions rarely reach the most in need. Little is known about how to reduce these inequalities. We describe and explain the equity impact of a women’s group intervention in India that strongly reduced the neonatal mortality rate (NMR) in a cluster-randomised trial. We conducted secondary analyses of the trial data, obtained through prospective surveillance of a population of 228, 186. The intervention effects were estimated separately, through random effects logistic regression, for the most and less socio-economically marginalised groups.

Key messages:

  • the effects of the women’s group intervention on NMR were substantially stronger among the most socio-economically marginalised than among less marginalised groups in the Ekjut trial.
  • socio-economic inequalities in neonatal mortality can be substantially reduced through a low-cost participatory community intervention.
  • universal coverage combined with ‘soft targeting’ of high-risk groups with effective interventions can have very substantial and equitable effects on mortality

Youth in Tanzania’s urbanizing mining settlements: prospecting a mineralized future

03 Nov 2016 01:43:17 GMT

Over the last fifteen years many African countries have experienced a ‘mining takeoff’. Mining activities have bifurcated into two sectors: large-scale, capital-intensive production generating the bulk of the exported minerals, and small-scale, labour-intensive artisanal mining, which, at present, is catalyzing far greater immediate primary, secondary and tertiary employment opportunities for unskilled African labourers. Youth residing in mining settlements, have a large vested interest in the current and future development of mining.

Focusing on Tanzania as typical of the emerging ‘new mineralizing Africa’, this paper, examines youth’s role in mining based on recent fieldwork in the country’s northwestern gold fields. Youth’s current involvement in mining as full-fledged, as opposed to part-time, miners is distinguished. The attitudes of secondary school students towards mining as a form of employment and its impact on economic and social life in mining communities are discussed within the context of the uneasy transitions from an agrarian to a mining-based country, from rural to urban lifestyles, and the growing scope and power of foreign-directed, capital-intensive, corporate mining relative to local  labour-intensive artisanal mining.

Youth are playing an active role in the emergence of new economic sectors and are currently engaging in and shaping the artisanal mining sector. Nonetheless, there is a discontinuity with the past in terms on the part of full-time, youthful miners, intent on improving their lives and gaining autonomy, who tend to be completely removed from elder or parental control and are rarely planning to return to their home areas. They are no longer endeavouring to earn bridewealth payments and return to their home areas to farm, which marks a distinct break in the inter-generational contract between older and younger generations. So too, secondary school students’ criticisms of their parents’ absence from the home and their lack of parental care, can be interpreted as a new tension between the young and older generation.

Artisanal mining, particularly that related to mineral rushes, places high demands on male mobility and has an erosive effect on family life. There are several other drawbacks: artisanal mining is physically dangerous, its excavation depth is technically limited and as large-scale mining expands, it is bound to contract spatially as government-granted large-scale mineral rights increasingly gain precedence over those of artisanal miners, displacing artisanal miners and fuelling their conflictual incursions on large-scale mining. Most miners and mining settlement residents see artisanal mining as an opportunity of the moment, not one that can be counted on far into the future. Thus Tanzanian youth, whether they are full-time or part-time miners think of artisanal mining as a temporary fix or more optimistically a stepping stone to gaining capital to invest in another occupation elsewhere. In other words, for most youth, despite all its pitfalls, mining can be a means to a better future but not their chosen future.

Climate change, children and poverty: engaging children and youth in policy debate and action

14 Oct 2016 04:00:19 GMT

Children’s vulnerability to climate change can be understood as an intersection of three axes. The first is exposure; the extent to which children live in a physical location that is vulnerable to drought, floods, extreme weather events and sea level rise. Recent estimates by UNICEF indicate that 160 million children live in drought-prone areas, and half a billion more live in zones at risk to high floods and severe storms.

The second axis is socio-economic, with vulnerability to hazards due to a lack of resources, poverty and marginalization. Families without adequate incomes and assets, protective infrastructure and housing, access to basic services, and inadequate nutrition and clean water, face the greatest risk in a changing climate. The third axis is time, today’s children and future generations will bear the brunt of environmental impacts, creating an inter-generational injustice without precedent. All children fall somewhere along these three axes, but it is the children who live in greatest poverty and in the most exposed places that face the greatest risks. More than just passive victims, these young people, often with the support of their caregivers and communities, also represent agents of change and have consistently demonstrated the capacity to devise local solutions, participate in global conversations and contribute to a safe and sustainable future.

This brief argues that:

  • children and young people, particularly those living in poverty, are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change
  • nevertheless, children and youth have shown that they can take an active role in raising awareness and creating innovative solutions
  • they must be empowered and supported to project their voice and to be part of the conversation in mitigation and adaptation planning and action
  • including the voice and needs of children at all levels of decision-making will help create a more sustainable, equitable and resilient society

Youth in Tanzania’s urbanizing mining settlements

14 Oct 2016 03:48:04 GMT

Over the last fifteen years many African countries have experienced a ‘mining takeoff’. Mining activities have bifurcated into two sectors: large-scale, capital-intensive production generating the bulk of the exported minerals, and small-scale, labour-intensive artisanal mining, which, at present, is catalyzing far greater immediate primary, secondary and tertiary employment opportunities for unskilled African labourers. Youth residing in mining settlements, have a large vested interest in the current and future development of mining.

Focusing on Tanzania as typical of the emerging ‘new mineralizing Africa’, this paper, examines youth’s role in mining based on recent fieldwork in the country’s northwestern gold fields. Youth’s current involvement in mining as full-fledged, as opposed to part-time, miners is distinguished. The attitudes of secondary school students towards mining as a form of employment and its impact on economic and social life in mining communities are discussed within the context of the uneasy transitions from an agrarian to a mining-based country, from rural to urban lifestyles, and the growing scope and power of foreign-directed, capital-intensive, corporate mining relative to local labourintensive artisanal mining.

Youth, mobility and mobile phones in Africa: findings from a three-country study

14 Oct 2016 03:42:58 GMT

The expansion of mobile phone use in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly over the last five years, has been remarkable in terms of speed of adoption, spatial penetration and, not least, the fact that this is an essentially spontaneous development firmly embedded in private sector activity. Country-level adoption and usage rates suggest that, in many countries, mobile phone use, even in poor households, is rapidly becoming an everyday part of life. Much of this use is based on shared access, rather than ownership, but for millions of very poor children and young people1 the mobile phone is now perceived as an essential requisite: an object of desire and a symbol of success.

This paper we examine mobile phone use by young people across 24 sites in three countries, Ghana, Malawi and South Africa, drawing on intensive qualitative and survey research, and relate this to issues of gendered physical mobility.

Findings point to significant variations between the three study countries and between urban and rural locations within them. There is also, of course, variation within individual sites, since the circumstances of young people living in one neighbourhood can differ quite substantially, depending not only on gender and age but also on factors such as family structure and socio-economic circumstances.

Nonetheless, some trends can be discerned from this socio-spatial analysis which build on findings from earlier (often single site or single country) studies in Africa: in particular, the growing importance of phones as urban-rural connectors, enhancing resource flows and young people’s construction of network capital, and concerns about their less positive aspects, not least the potential for encouraging or supporting illicit activities such as robbery or possibly dangerous underage sexual liaisons.

The equity impact of participatory women's groups to reduce neonatal mortality in India: secondary analysis of a cluster-randomised trial

14 Oct 2016 03:32:57 GMT

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been uneven. Inequalities in child health are large and effective interventions rarely reach the most in need. Little is known about how to reduce these inequalities.

This paper describes and explains the equity impact of a women’s group intervention in India that strongly reduced the neonatal mortality rate (NMR) in a cluster-randomised trial. The authors conducted secondary analyses of the trial data, obtained through prospective surveillance of a population of 228 186. The intervention effects were estimated separately, through random effects logistic regression, for the most and less socio-economically marginalised groups.

Among the most marginalised, the NMR was 59% lower in intervention than in control clusters in years 2 and 3 (70%, year 3); among the less marginalised, the NMR was 36% lower (35%, year 3). The intervention effect was stronger among the most than among the less marginalised (P-value for difference = 0.028, years 2-3; P-value for difference = 0.009, year 3).

The stronger effect was concentrated in winter, particularly for early NMR. There was no effect on the use of health-care services in either group, and improvements in home care were comparable. Participatory community interventions can substantially reduce socio-economic inequalities in neonatal mortality and contribute to an equitable achievement of the unfinished MDG agenda.

New knowledge on children and young people: a synthesis of evidence - summary paper

14 Oct 2016 03:22:41 GMT

Improving children and young people’s (CYP) wellbeing, and recognising the role they can play in creating a more sustainable world will be critical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This timely report provides insights into how ESRC-DFID funded research has provided new knowledge that can inform and strengthen policy making in relation to CYP issues and help meet global development ambitions.

Key research findings:

  • recognising young people’s agency and the role they can play in research and policy making around the issues that matter to them most is critical
  • enhanced participation and community engagement programmes amongst the most marginalised can contribute to reduction in inequalities of new born survival rates
  • religion can have a significant impact on child wellbeing outcomes in India
  • CYP’s psychological wellbeing is positively associated with staying in school and negatively associated with entering the labour market in China. However for CYP in Tanzania there is often a clash between their perceptions of the long term gain of education and the more immediate benefits of employment
  • marriage is often viewed by both CYP and their families as a key livelihood strategy
  • young people are using mobile technologies to access services and build up social capital. They also have concerns around mobile phones and the potential negative impact on their personal safety and wellbeing

New knowledge on children and young people: a synthesis of evidence

14 Oct 2016 03:12:58 GMT

This report synthesises insights on children and young people (CYP) from research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research. It identifies the major contributions the scheme has made to knowledge on CYP in low- and middle-income countries and on effective policies for promoting CYP wellbeing. It situates learning from scheme-funded research within the wider field of CYP-oriented international development research and reflects on the ways in which findings relate to contemporary
development policy agendas for CYP. The report is based on a thorough review of all available documentation and outputs related to the 126 grants funded at the start of the review period and on conversations and interviews with current grant-holders.

  • 44 grants (35% of all scheme-funded research) generated insights on children and young people. Of these two-thirds had a strong or moderate focus on CYP. Insights are diverse, with no two grants examining the same issue
  • most new knowledge has been generated on education and health, followed by livelihoods issues, transitions to marriage and sexual relationships and violence against children and young people
  • 55% of grants provide insights into the effectiveness of particular policies and programmes. Many studies address current policy dilemmas; others probe the impact of significant development trends on children and young people
  • there was a strong youth focus in these grants with 73% of grants producing knowledge on young people aged 15 and over, or on key policy issues affecting them
  • a third of research projects had achieved positive impacts on children and young people or are expected to do so



Every last girl: free to live, free to learn, free from harm

11 Oct 2016 10:21:25 GMT

More than 700 million women in the world today were married before their 18th birthday and one in three of those women was married before age 15. Child marriage can trigger a cycle of disadvantage across every part of a girl’s life.

Maternal mortality is the second leading cause of death for adolescent girls aged 15–19 years old (after suicide). An estimated 70,000 adolescent girls die each year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Every year 2.5 million girls under 16 give birth.

Aside from child marriage and inadequate sexual and reproductive helath care, this report highlights further barriers to girls' equality, including gender-based violence, trafficking, economic exclusion when household resources are limited and boys are prioritised, education and learning gaps, and gender issues arising from conflict and disasters.

This report identifies the three specific Guarantees to Girls that governments must make - fair finance, equal treatment and accountability - that governments must make to reach excluded children.

Meeting the need, fulfilling the promise: youth and long-acting reversible contraceptives

04 Oct 2016 12:07:53 GMT

The highest proportion of young people today - 89 percent - live in developing countries. In some sub-Saharan African countries, where fertility remains high, we can expect growing cohorts of children and youth, unless fertility needs can be met. Addressing the sexual and reproductive health of this large youth population is critical to support their universal right to health-including access to contraception-and to contribute to efforts to expand education, provide meaningful employment, and reduce poverty.
Fortunately, the importance of providing reproductive health information and services to youth is gaining worldwide attention. In 2015 the Global Consensus Statement on youth and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) was launched and more than 50 influential organizations and governments have signed on. The Consensus Statement says that ensuring young people’s access to LARCs will help to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, decrease unsafe abortions, and ensure full and informed contraceptive choice for youth.
This brief discusses the advantages and challenges of providing LARCs - specifically contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs) - to youth, and provides case studies from Ethiopia and Madagascar. It also outlines actions for policymakers and donors to make youth access to LARCs a reality.

Understanding teenage fertility, cohabitation, and marriage: the case of Peru

29 Sep 2016 10:19:14 GMT

In this study, the authors used data from the Young Lives study, which investigates teenage childbearing, marriage, and cohabitation by tracking a cohort of individuals from the ages of 8 to 19 years. While the present analysis does not intend to establish causality, the longitudinal nature of the data allows us to identify the combination of early circumstances and life changes that induce a higher likelihood of these events. The analysis addresses bias due both to reverse causality and to community characteristics that are usually unobserved and fixed over time, a strategy that is quite unique in studies of developing countries.
About 1 out of 5 females (and 1 out of 20 males) in the sample here had at least one child by the age of 19, and 80 percent of them were married or cohabiting. Early marriage/cohabitation is indeed intrinsically related to early pregnancy and largely predicted by the same factors. For females specifically, girls from poor households with an absent parent for a prolonged period have a higher risk of early childbearing. Similarly, girls whose self-efficacy and educational aspirations decrease over time are more at risk of becoming a mother during adolescence. Conversely, school attendance and better school performance predict a lower risk of early pregnancy; our analysis suggests that this is largely because it postpones the first sexual relationship.

Balancing school and work with new opportunities: changes in children’s gendered time use in Ethiopia (2006-2013)

29 Sep 2016 10:04:26 GMT

Focusing on the relationship between children’s work and school attendance, this paper explores time use trends among boys and girls in Ethiopia. It does this by comparing the time use of two cohorts of children at the same age, 12 years, but interviewed at two different points in time, 2006 and 2013.

In assessing the pattern over this period the authors have taken four contributory factors into account; gendered norms and aspirations for children’s futures; local opportunities for both schooling and work; the characteristics of schools and different kinds of work; and intra-household dynamics.

Broad trends are identified through survey data and case studies of two rural communities that have experienced rapid economic and social transformation, with associated increases in gendered opportunities for work. 

The paper finds that overall there is a small reduction in the hours worked by 12-year-olds over the seven years.
However, this trend is mainly in urban areas. Rural boys are found to have increased their working hours. By examining two case-study communities that have experienced increasing economic development and gendered work opportunities the research finds that, contrary to expectations, the increased returns to work have lowered boys’ education aspirations and increased their school drop-out rates relative to girls’.

Between hope and a hard place: boys and young men negotiating gender, poverty and social worth in Ethiopia

29 Sep 2016 09:58:54 GMT

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on adolescence as a key transition to adulthood. Young people are navigating puberty and making life choices around schooling, work, and intimate and family relationships. However, much of the attention has been on girls. This has led to a lack of gendered analysis and has also meant that adolescent boys have been largely left out of the picture.

This paper uses Young Lives research in Ethiopia, carried out over multiple years, to look at boys and young men’s lives, their aspirations, and the obstacles they face as they grow into adults. It examines the diverse strategies they employ to overcome these challenges, and compares their experiences with those of girls and young women of the same age.

  • Education is seen by both parents and children as a route out of poverty.  95 per cent of Young Lives boys and girls were enrolled in school at the age of 12. By age 19, there was a growing ambivalence regarding education, particularly for young men who increasingly oriented their aspirations towards the world of work.
  • Rural/urban contrasts: Young people growing up in rural areas are often seen as having fewer life chances than those in towns. But the least optimistic young men were located in urban areas where they felt disconnected from development opportunities.
  • Livelihoods: Many of the young men had left school and were trying to find work, both as a response to poverty and a vital source of respect in the community. But because they found so few opportunities for gainful employment, some of them were left feeling stuck and hopeless.
  • Marriage Girls: see marriage as one way of improving their lives. But for young men, marriage was impossible until they had adequately paid work, and was therefore a way of entering into adulthood that they could not imagine in the near future.

The paper concludes by drawing out the policy implications of our findings. It calls for stronger gendered evidence on the relationship between gender inequality and childhood poverty, and an approach to gender justice that include boys and young men, as well as girls and young women, so that none are left trapped between hope and a hard place.

[Summary from Younf Lives]

Temperature variability and occurrence of diarrhoea in children under five-years-old in Cape Town Metropolitan sub-districts

23 Sep 2016 03:37:43 GMT

Diarrhoea is among the main causes of morbidity and mortality in children within the developing world. According to the (2007) Intergovernmen al Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, there is an expected increase in the global annual average temperature by 2100, which could result in increased temperatures and rainfall in many areas of the globe, causing significant temperature variability in the future. It was reported that with a change in climatic parameters such as average temperatures and rainfall, the rate of certain health conditions i.e., thermal stress and infectious diseases increases. It is worth noting that children under five years old are susceptible to the problem of climate-sensitive diseases with estimates ranging from 10% to 20% of populations in areas with limited capacity to manage the health impact of climate change. Increasing evidence has emphasized the seasonal relationship between the peak of diarrhoea occurrence and climatic factors such as the rainy season and high temperatures in developing countries. The link existing between climate parameters and diarrhoeal disease can be expected to fluctuate with different causal agents such as rotavirus, norovirus, Giardia, Cryptosporidium and pathogenic Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella.

This paper describes the relationship between temperature change and diarrhoea in under five-year-old children in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area (CTMA) of South Africa. The study used climatic and aggregated surveillance diarrhoea incidence data of two peak periods of seven months each over two consecutive years. A Poisson regression model and a lagged Poisson model with autocorrelation was performed to test the relationship between climatic parameters (minimum and maximum temperature) and incidence of diarrhoea.

The paper concludes that there was an association between an increase in minimum and maximum temperature, and the rate at which diarrhoea affected children under the age of five years old in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area. This finding may have implications for the effects of global warming and requires further investigation.

Agriculture, nutrition and the green revolution in Bangladesh

20 Sep 2016 04:31:47 GMT

This paper explores agriculture and nutrition linkages in Bangladesh, a country that achieved rapid growth in rice productivity at a relatively late stage in Asia's Green Revolution, as well as unheralded progress against undernutrition. To do so, the authors first outline a simple conceptual model to identify the different impacts that productivity growth in a food staple(s) might have on child nutrition outcomes, with a particular focus on changes in diets at the household and child level.

The authors then apply this framework to a descriptive overview of the evolution of Bangladesh's food system in recent decades. We show that this evolution is characterized rapid growth in yields and calorie availability, but relatively sluggish diversification in both food production and consumption, despite increasing reliance on imports for dietary diversification. Next, they create a multi-round district level panel that links changes in nutrition survey data with agricultural sample survey data over 1996–2011, a period in which rice yields rose by more than 70%.

The paper then uses this panel to more rigorously test for associations between yield growth and various anthropometric and child feeding indicators. Consistent with our descriptive evidence on dietary changes, we find that rice yields predict the earlier introduction of  complementary foods to young children (most frequently rice) as well as increases in their weight-for-height, but no improvements in their dietary diversity or height-for-age.

Since Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child wasting in the world, these significant associations between yields and child weight gain are encouraging, but the lack of discernible effects on children's dietary diversity or linear growth is cause for concern. Indeed, it suggests that further nutritional impacts will require diversifying the Bangladeshi food basket through both supply and demand-side interventions.


The dynamics of youth radicalisation in Africa: reviewing the current evidence

20 Sep 2016 04:09:48 GMT

Youth radicalisation towards violent extremism is a global phenomenon that threatens peace, security and stability. This paper reviews the evidence on the factors that may contribute to the dynamics of youth radicalisation in Africa. 

Available findings from East Africa and the Horn of Africa, West Africa and the Sahel, and North Africa are used to understand the dynamics that may contribute to radicalisation and, potentially, to violent extremism. Many factors emerge including political, economic, social and individual factors. Religion, identity and gender also arise as topics for further analysis.

Youth radicalisation is a complex phenomenon that cannot be attributed to any one explanation or set of factors. This paper recognises these complexities, offers recommendations and identities additional issues that should be explored further.

Uprooted: the growing crisis for refugee and migrant children

08 Sep 2016 10:19:42 GMT

Around the world, nearly 50 million children have migrated across borders or been forcibly displaced. This report presents comprehensive, global data about these children - where they are born, where they move and some of the dangers they face along the way. The report sheds light on the truly global nature of childhood migration and displacement, highlighting challenges faced by child migrants and refugees in every region.Based on the findings of the report and its work in the field, UNICEF has developed six goals and practical suggestions to protect child migrants and refugees and provide them with hope for the future: protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence - introduce measures to strengthen child protection systems, including the training of social and child workers and working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and professional groups. Clamp down on trafficking  through enhanced law enforcement, and the systematic appointment of qualified guardians; better access to information regarding the management of their cases and access to legal assistance. Governments should also develop clearer guidance for case officers when determining the migration status of children, to prevent the return of children and families to persecution, dangerous or life-threatening situationsend the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating - introduce practical alternatives to detention wherever children (or their families) are involved, given the negative impact of detention on a child’s development. Examples of alternatives to detention include: the surrender of passport and regular reporting requirements; guarantors or bailees who may be family members or community supporters; foster care and supervised independent living for unaccompanied and separated children; and compulsory registration with authoritieskeep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status - develop clear policy guidance to keep children from being separated from their parents during border control processing and any migrant legal processes. States should speed-up procedures and make it easier for children to reunite with their families, including with their extended families in destination countries. Children born to migrant parents need legal identity for their future wellbeing. Governments should provide birth registration and/or other identity documents to enable children to access services and avoid statelessnesskeep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services - an increased collective effort by governments, communities and the private sector is needed to provide education, health, shelter, nutrition, water and sanitation, and access to legal and psychosocial support to these children. This is no[...]

Protecting women’s and children’s health from a changing climate

23 Aug 2016 12:34:52 GMT

Climate change increases challenges to women'€™s and children'€™s health. There is more likelihood of women and children suffering and dying from problems such as diarrhoea, undernutrition, malaria, and from the harmful effects of extreme weather events, including floods or drought. While women and children in developing countries have made comparatively small contributions to historical carbon emissions, they bear the brunt of the health effects of climate change, both now and in the future. Efforts to prevent, mitigate and address the effects of climate change should include integrated action across sectors to address these health inequities now and for future generations.

Climate change will have a substantial impact on the health and survival of future generations. Policies that act now to improve health can also reduce climate change. Such co-benefits can be achieved when coordinated action is taken across the health, transport, energy, education and agriculture sectors. Policies that address broader health and climate protection can also work to reduce the significant economic losses from damages to health and the environment.

Child centred community resiliance: final evaluation of the Bangladesh Child Resilience Project

23 Aug 2016 01:28:41 GMT

For communities at risk from shocks, stresses and uncertainty, building resilience is an essential yet challenging development process. It r equires working on multiple fronts to: reduce people's exposure and vulnerability; build their capacity to adapt; and transform systems to create an enabling environment for people to realise their rights.Save the Children International (SCI) has been work ing in Bangladesh over the past three years; supporting girls and boys, their families, schools and local communities -€“ in 36 rural and urban communities -€“ to build their capabilities to adapt, prepare, and respond to disasters, climate change and sexual and gender based violence. Using a child -centred approach to design and implement Child Resilience Project, SCI along with its partners SEEP and Uttaran directly supported 14,076 girls, boys, women and men to build their resilience.This report is the culmination of desk- and field-based work to evaluate the relevance, impact, effectiveness, participation and sustainability of the project. The author consulted over 120 internal and external documents, and the evaluation team engaged directly with 235 girls, boys, women and men using participatory approaches to gather the re levant qualitative and quantitative information. This report finds overall that the project has achi eved a good level of success across the five key areas of enquiry. It is relevant at all levels from community to national. It has demonstrated impact by increasing the knowledge, skills and resilience of project beneficiaries in schools and the community; as well as partner staff, and to some extent government. It has used approaches that are participatory, child-centred, inclusive and suited to the context; and these have been effective. In particular, the participatory, child-centred approa ch to community development, which recognises existing expertise in children, their families and the community, has contributed to the overall goal of building resilience and has been a strength of the project. The project has provided a good foundation for the continuation of project gains and longer te rm sustainability through different measures, including: enhanced capacities of children, school staff, community members and partners; increased local ownership of project interventions; and resources to support learning and action to date.However, not all aspects of the project have worked optimally. The project may have been more relevant if it had discussed key interventions areas with government authorities during the design phase, to confirm the best use of resources. It may have had greater impact if it had undertaken more on-the-ground disaster mitigation actions and adapt ation activities to allow communities put into practice knowledge learned. It may have been more e ffec[...]

Case study: child centered climate change adaptation (4CA) in the Pacific Islands

18 Aug 2016 11:31:46 GMT

The ‘Child-Centered Climate Change Adaptation (4CA)’ Program supported communities in six Pacific Island Countries to adapt to the risks and challenges of climate change. The program’s focus, unique to the region, fostered the capacity of children and young people in building resilience. Part of awider initiative by Plan International (PIA), an international child rights organization, 4CA aimed to address the urgent threat posed by climate change to children’s survival, development and protection.Between 2011 and 2015, the programwas delivered by a network of civil society organizations working under the umbrella of Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI).

The 4CA program has been highlighted by Equity for Children as one of the few significant initiatives by international child rights organizations to put young people at the centre of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management. While most recognize the growing threat of climate change to children’s wellbeing, efforts to create child-sensitive approaches and programs have been limited.

In addition, 4CA’s targeting of the most vulnerable children and communities, and empowering them through information and resources, provides a model grounded in equity and rights.

Does less engaged mean less empowered? Political participation lags among African youth, especially women

18 Aug 2016 03:34:19 GMT

The African Union (AU) Assembly declared 2009 - 2018 the "African Youth Decade" and released an action plan to promote youth empowerment and development throughout the continent, including by raising young citizens' representation and participation in political processes. The latest results from Afrobarometer surveys in 36 countries reveal a wide gap between the aspirations set forth in the AU policy framework and the reality of youth political engagement in Africa today. The data show that African governments and development partners have considerable work to do to achieve the goal of increased civic and political participation among youth, particularly young women. African youth (aged 18-35) report lower rates of political engagement than their elders across a variety of indicators, including voting in national elections. Young citizens are also less likely to engage in civic activities such as attending community meetings and joining others to raise an issue. While these findings are consistent with research on age differences in voter turnout in advanced democracies, the survey further finds that youth engagement levels have declined over time despite the introduction of regional and national youth empowerment policies. Key findings:political engagement is generally lower among African youth than among their elders, particularly in terms of voting. Two-thirds (65%) of 18- to 35–year-old respondents who were old enough to vote in the last national election say they did so, compared to 79% of citizens above age 35slightly more than half (53%) of African youth report being “very” or “somewhat” interested in public affairs, while two-thirds (67%) say they discuss politics with friends or family at least “occasionally.” Compared to their male counterparts, young women report significantly less interest (48% vs. 60%) and discussion (61% vs. 74%)attendance at campaign rallies is the most popular form of pre-electoral engagement among young Africans: One-third (33%) say they attended at least one in the previous year, compared to 37% of older citizens. The gender gap in participation in rallies averages 10 percentage points and is largest in East Africa (14 points) and West Africa (13 points)African youth are less likely than their elders to participate in civic activities: Less than half (47%) of 18- to 35–year-olds say they attended community meetings at least once during the previous year, while 40% joined others to raise an issue (vs. 57% and 47% for older citizens). Young women’s participation also lags behind that of their male peers on these measures of civic activism (by 9 percentage points, on average), particularly in West Africa and North Africa (both by 14 percentage points)not quite half (48%) [...]

Children’s mobility in Ghana: An overview of methods and findings from the Ghana research study

12 Aug 2016 12:54:32 GMT

This paper is part of a collection forming A Special Issue, which covers selected themes from a larger project on child mobility in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa. The themes are those which individual members of the Ghana research team identified as of particular interest and on which they have reflected, drawing on material collected and analysed by the team as a whole. In this paper the authors take a broader view, first presenting the background history and context of the three-country study in which the Ghana research is set (country selection, project design and methods), then focusing on the research process in Ghana. 

The two research strands pursued in the study present different entry points through which we can explore children’s mobility and access to services. One strand comprises relatively conventional academic research: the first part of this is qualitative (in-depth interviews with children, parents and other key informants; focus groups; life histories; accompanied walks), the second part consists of a large-scale quantitative questionnaire survey directed at children aged c. 9-18 years (N= 1000). The second main research strand, less conventionally, is based in young people’s own research, in which (following some preliminary training) they have selected their research methods and directly undertaken research with their peers. Findings from this second strand, which was undertaken at a relatively early stage in the project, by young people aged between about 11 and 20 years, also helped shape questions in the adult academic qualitative and quantitative elements.

Key findings from the project include:

  • Mobility constraints interacting with heavy work demands place a particularly strong constraint on rural girls’ education. Distance from school, when coupled with a heavy workload at home, affects school attendance, punctuality and performance.
  • Inter-generational frictions around access to resources, youth sexuality, mobility and adult surveillance are widely in evidence in the qualitative data, though the way these play out varies with family and local context.
  • There has been remarkably little recognition of children’s contributions to filling Africa’s transport gap. Qualitative data emphasizes the scale of children’s load carrying in Ghana and suggests the particularly important role of girls as load carriers.
  • Physical access presents a major barrier to health service use for children. In Ghana over one-third reported that travel costs/difficulties had prevented them seeking healthcare in the preceding year.