This blog asks which organisations are central to assessing child poverty. UNICEF has attempted to summarise the roles and influence of major bodies involved in research, analysis and publication of data relevant to child poverty. The research demonstrates that collaborative work can form the most effective basis of campaigns to raise the political profile of child poverty. Here are half a dozen important stakeholders.
1: A national office for statistics. This is usually a civil service style department which is administered and funded under a government umbrella. These departments are officially authorised to conduct research, collate data and results, carry out discrete analysis, publish findings and make evidence-based recommendations. If their research programme and findings concern the overarching field of poverty, then it may be possible to extrapolate discrete data which particularly concerns child poverty. An office for national statistics is very likely to oversee and implement a regular national census as well as surveys relating to household income and expenditure. Data generated by these activities is vital to shed light on issues relating to child poverty and should help to inform strategic planning to tackle it.
2: A government finance ministry. This is a likely source of information and data on poverty in general across a country. Official recognition, endorsement and ongoing support of such a ministry is vital for the timely funding, launch and ultimate effectiveness of a rolling campaign against child poverty.
3: UNICEF. Over the past twenty years the role of UNICEF has been instrumental in raising awareness and promoting the importance of child poverty on the global stage. One reason that child poverty is reducing on a global scale is because of the coordinated work undertaken by UNICEF. It has led negotiations with various stakeholders on a country by country basis, organised international efforts and initiatives, promoted research, data collection and analysis, fostered official discussions, helped to formulate appropriate policies, and worked behind the scenes to bring about programmes to reduce child poverty.
UNICEF has worked alongside governments and organisations in dozens of low income countries to ensure that reports and studies exploring child poverty have been undertaken, together with specific assessments, for example investigations examining conditions in urban slums or the impacts made by an individual grant from the government. UNICEF has access to an increasingly vast data bank which is important for informing planning. Much of this data is regularly updated, which enables trends to be traced and the impact of a policy or campaign to be effectively measured.
4: The World Bank. This international organisation has for many years promoted and supported poverty analysis in lower and middle income nations. It produces and updates the monetary measure of poverty, currently $2.15 per person per day. However, it has expressly documented why a multi-dimensional approach to measuring poverty is vital. The World Bank also provides a wealth of resources informing the measurement of global poverty, and in addition it publishes reports on poverty on a country by country basis.
Partly prompted by the Global Commission on Poverty, the World Bank has also adopted a policy to research and publish poverty profiles specifically for children (under 18 years of age). Its research and analysis of multidimensional poverty has highlighted the benefits of defining poverty from a lifestyle viewpoint, taking into consideration factors like rights, access to a reliable electricity supply, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, education programmes, medical care as well as safe housing.
5: Charities, non-government organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and research bureaux. Each of these groups of stakeholders plays a significant role in raising the profile of child poverty, and helping to keep it on the political agenda, both nationally and worldwide. They help to raise awareness and secure finance. This can be done by collecting data, undertaking research and investigations, conducting appropriate interviews with people concerned and other stakeholders, as well as by actively campaigning, fundraising and implementing new measures. They also work with media and journalists. Such contributions can help to influence and shape government policy.
Small charities can also play important roles in measuring child poverty. For example, alongside their other campaigns, they can raise awareness and help to shape discussions by regularly airing issues on an active blog, or through their online presence.
In a country which undertakes no official research into child poverty these bodies can give a lead in formulating estimates, from which it is possible to raise the profile of child poverty in terms of public awareness. Such publicity and promotion can generate political pressure and help to build momentum which can lead to a review of government policy. Charities such as Save the Children, Oxfam and the remarkable Médecins sans Frontières often catch the headlines for their roles at the forefront of interventionist humanitarian relief. Often this follows in the wake of a specific emergency, whether the result of an environmental event, war, breakdown in law and order, or economic crisis. Data and evidence from their experience on the ground, and campaigns organised as a consequence, can help to inform decision making about, and raise awareness of, child poverty.
6: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is an outreach network which aims to connect governments and organisations to facilitate mutually beneficial exchanges of experience, knowledge and resources to help improve lifestyles for the global population. Poverty reduction is at the heart of their mission. They operate in 170 countries, fostering development research, planning and initiatives to formulate solutions to political and cultural challenges. While the UNDP promotes sustainable development, climate and emergency resilience, peacebuilding and democratic governance, it also assists in attracting aid.
The UNDP was responsible for constructing the multi-dimensional poverty index. This method of assessing poverty in general and child poverty specifically has helped to rationalise the arbitrary-seeming income-based poverty line. Together with the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), the UNDP publishes regular country specific analyses of poverty.
The above stakeholders often formally collaborate in their collective missions. Developing such partnerships is central to forming influential and respected alliances which can more readily help to advise and shape political responses to child poverty. While naturally the role and relative importance of these stakeholders varies from country to country, they are nonetheless central to achieving the goal of constructing a national pathway to tackle and eradicate child poverty.
In conclusion, thorough and effective measurement of child poverty leads to its reduction. These stakeholders all contribute to that end.