Zambia: Situation Analysis of Children and Women 2008

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1. Introduction: Understanding the situation of children and women in Zambia

All children have a right to survive, to develop to the full, and to enjoy a safe, healthy and happy childhood. They have a right to healthy physical and emotional development, and to live, learn and be full and respected members of society. As infants, young children or teenagers, in Zambia and throughout the world, all children share these rights which in turn will shape their future, the future of their country, and indeed the global future.

Yet in many poor countries, children face significant hurdles in securing even the most basic standards of survival and development. Compromised by poverty and ill-health even before birth, many children suffer the successive blows of malnutrition, inadequate schooling, poor housing and exposure to danger and harm. Such deprivation has a strong tendency to reproduce itself, as the disadvantages faced by chronically poor girls and boys reduce their opportunities and capacities as adults to provide a better start for their own children.

While the vicious cycle of poverty, vulnerability and deprivation can be described in general terms, however, it is important to remember that in any context, it is caused and entrenched by specific and identifiable factors. In order to improve the lives of children, we need to understand these causal factors and to use this understanding to shape our efforts to respond. If rural households do not grow enough food, we must identify the reasons that this is so. If girls drop out of school, we need to know exactly why. Without analysing what drives the disadvantage that children face, any efforts to bring about improvement will be superficial.

This report has been prepared as a collaborative effort between the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ), its partners UNICEF, Irish Aid, the UK Department for International Development, and others including the United States Agency for International Development, local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society. It is based on six component reports, each of which provide a detailed analysis of the situation of children and women. The studies focused on livelihoods, epidemics, public services, the protective environment, family, community and society and the analysis of national statistical data. This synthesis report describes trends and changes in results for children, identifying the factors that drive the on-going deprivation and vulnerability that affect so many and analysing the achievements and challenges to our efforts to achieve significant improvements.

The situation analysis is timely, completed as Zambia moves into the preparation of the next national development plan. The findings, analysis and recommendations provide the basis for considering how the interests of Zambia's poorest families, children and women can be best represented, and how results can be accelerated in order to meet our commitments and goals for their survival and development.

The preparation and dissemination of this report therefore creates an opportunity for renewed efforts to improve the lives of Zambian children. However, the true challenge is taking the next step - raising the priority of achieving results for children, forging an effective partnership to intensify efforts, addressing the factors that drive child poverty and deprivation and achieving the rights of all Zambian children to survive, to develop and to enjoy a safe and healthy childhood.

This report starts by looking at the vulnerabilities facing Zambia's children and women, highlighting the significance and mutual reinforcement of poverty, food insecurity, livelihoods, ill-health and the social environment as drivers of deprivation for children and women. Thereafter, it examines efforts that are in place to address the needs of children and women, describing successes and challenges in basic social service delivery and social protection, and looking at opportunities for further improvement. The following section looks at how the legal and policy environment serves to protect and fulfil the rights of children and women, showing how weaknesses in this respect can perpetuate exclusion and marginalisation, entrench the more harmful elements of social practice and undermine the effectiveness of policies and programmes intended to promote development. Lastly, the report describes seven high priority areas for action, identifying practical, achievable and measurable recommendations to accelerate the achievement of results for Zambia's children.