Supporting the measurement and enhancement of African children's rights and well-being in nutrition, healthcare and education through a gender lens

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Sch for Policy Studies


The governments of the World have agreed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first five goals are no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and gender equality. The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) is the leading independent, not-for-profit, Pan-African organisation, specialising in helping African governments to improve their policies and practices to meet the SDGs for children. This project builds upon a long-term partnership between the ACPF and the University of Bristol to make better use of available data to provide policymakers with the high-quality evidence they need to help meet the first five SDGs.

Agenda 2063 is Africa's blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. It is the continent's strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development. This ambitious goal cannot be achieved without improvements in the lives of African Children. However, approximately 27 million African children suffer from stunting (low height for age), 16 million are underweight (low weight for age) and 8 million suffer from wasting (low weight for height). In 2016, only two-thirds of children in Africa had been vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and other serious childhood diseases. Similarly, about 7 million children in Eastern and Southern Africa and 8 million in West and Central Africa are likely to receive no pre-primary education in 2030 given the current slow rates of improvement (UNICEF 2018). The combination of poverty and inadequate nutrition, healthcare and education are amongst the most intractable development challenges faced by most countries in Africa (ACPF 2018).

Gender discrimination is also a significant problem in Africa, and there remain many social, economic and cultural factors contributing to the disempowerment and discriminatory practices that disadvantage women and girls. There is a pressing need for systematic assessments on the nature and extent of gender discrimination in nutrition, healthcare and education in Africa over the past decade (2008-2018).

This project will analyse relevant data about children's lives and circumstances using state-of-the-art quantitative and qualitative methods to explore 'what' changes there have been in child nutrition, healthcare and education during the past ten years in Africa, 'when' these changes are related to gender disparities and the availability and quality of child protection policies and services in each country, and 'where' children at sub-national level are at the greatest risk of being left behind.

Outputs from this project will be published by ACPF in their forthcoming flagship report -- The African Report on Child Well-being 2020: How Friendly are African Governments towards the Girl Child?

Planned Impact

1. WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THE RESEARCH? The ultimate beneficiaries of this project are children in African who need adequate nutrition, healthcare and education. Social workers, public health professionals and stakeholders based in local governments, treaty bodies, NGOs and international organisations (e.g. UNICEF, WHO, UNDP) will also benefit. Widespread media coverage and public interests in the progress towards the SDGs are anticipated so that journalists and the general public will also be informed about the state of the rights and well-being of children in this rapidly changing continent. 2. HOW WILL THEY BENEFIT FROM THE RESEARCH? All the 52 African countries (e.g. Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, etc) involved are experiencing rapid economic, social and political transitions. Reliable data and comprehensive measures are needed to understand how the nutrition, healthcare and education profiles of the younger generations are patterned so that the extent, nature and distribution of any problems can be better understood and resources better targeted. This project will produce empirical evidence on this critical issue via secondary analysis of nationally representative data, disaggregated by gender. It can provide analyses and policy-relevant evidence to African governments, treaty bodies, and so on. The results can be used for evidence-based advocacy tools designed to influence policy and practice. The research will help to inform the African public about the main factors hindering the achievement of child-relevant SDGs with a particular focus on girls. Treaty bodies such as the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child who are mandated to monitor implementation of the African Children's Charter will find the project a useful resource for their monitoring role. The African Union's Department for Social Affairs can use the research findings to inform their policy development and strategies for their advancing social development agenda concerning nutrition, healthcare, education and gender equality. Civil society organisations can use the results in their advocacy work and routine engagement with local governments, and to initiate public dialogue on the problems, consequences (both immediate and long-term) and solutions and feed existing campaigns on gender equality. 3. WHAT WILL BE DONE TO ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BENEFIT FROM THE RESEARCH? A set of strategies will be applied to maximise economic and societal impact: 1) Policy reports/briefs/articles: Project results will be included in The African Report on Child Well-being 2020: How Friendly are African Governments towards the Girl Child?, produced by ACPF; articles and policy briefs explaining the project's objectives, methodologies and results will be written for non-academic audiences in English and French to maximise accessibility and circulated through UNICEF, UNDP, African Research Centre at the University of Bristol, Worldwide Universities Network, Bristol Poverty Institute, and BristolPolicy; 2) Mass media: Where applicable, outputs will be published on the websites of local ministries, departments, agencies and public authorises. Through established connections with WHO and other NGOs, outputs will also be disseminated via their newsletters, Twitters and blogs; 3) Dissemination events: Two dissemination events will be held in Ethiopia on Dec 2020 and Apr 2021, respectively, in which researchers, students, policymakers, think-tanks and journalists will be invited to share project results and discuss further NGO-academic collaboration in developing countries; 4) Capacity development: Two workshops will be organised, focusing on research ethics and data and policy analysis and strategies, respectively. The former will be offered to the project staff while the latter will include about 50 advanced data users in Africa, e.g. ACPF staff, local researchers, research students, national statistical offices, and so on.


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