The Vice Damaging African Children

By Constance Ndeleko

33,000 girls and boys have expressed fear that the rising corruption is severely affecting their access to education and health. This is in reference to a recent child consultation undertaken to highlight the level of corruption in Africa.

The report- STOLEN FUTURES: The impact of corruption on children in Africa was compiled by a group of child-focused agencies working closely with the African Union. The study identified informal payments in the form of outright bribes, gratitude payments or off-the-books fees as one of the biggest forms of corruption affecting service provision for children in the education and health sectors.

The study closely looks at some of the corrupt behaviors of service providers in the health and education sectors that can directly impact children and their families including teacher/health worker absenteeism and the practice of charging informal fees for supposedly free services. These are seen as the cause of the provision of fewer services for children and increase the inclination for public sector workers to be less productive and provide poor quality services.

As a society, we should set a vibrant and noble example to our children but then that is not being perceived in this century. “Children bear a disproportionate burden of the discriminatory effects of corruption due to their reliance on public services and reduced capacity to challenge corrupt practices.” Says Hon. Begoto Miarom, Chairperson of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption.

The study reports that on average, approximately 24 percent of teachers were not in school during unannounced visits, while 18 percent were at school but not teaching a scheduled class. “Millions of children and young people in Africa are being denied their right to education, healthcare and decent future due to corruption,” says Mr. Stephen Omollo, Regional Leader, World Vision East Africa, on behalf of the organizations that commissioned the report.

Evidence suggests that health facilities mainly are operated by lower cadre health staff with limited or no supervision. The health sector absence rates are most acute among highly skilled health workers, most notably doctors. Absence rates range from a low of 14 percent in Tanzania to a high of 46 percent in Uganda.

A large proportion of Africans pay bribes to access ‘free’ social services or to hasten access to services. In the education sector, bribes are a common way to secure higher grades. Bribery increases inequalities in access to essential services for children and reduces the quality of services offered.

Finally, the report highlights the impact of illicit financial flows and grand corruption on children. As the principal source of finance available to any country, government budgets offer the largest scope for investment in children if they are properly managed. Grand corruption typically results in loss of large amounts of money, resources that could otherwise be invested in better infrastructure, systems, and services for children.

Samuel Norgah, Director of Plan International African Union Liaison Office notes that “All forms of corruption reduce the availability of household and public resources to spend on critical services for children. Combating corruption is, therefore, an important step for increasing the funds available for families and governments to invest in children.”

“Investing in our children is essential for Africa’s social and economic development,” says Hon. Goitseone Nanikie Nkwe, Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. “Children are telling us that corruption is stopping them from getting the services that they need. We must heed their warning and take action to end corruption once and for all so that future generations can realize their full potential.”

Doris Mpoumou, Director and AU Representative for Save the Children International AU Liaison & Pan Africa Office also notes that “corruption robs millions of children of their basic human rights to education, health, and a decent future. Reducing corruption is necessary for improving development outcomes for children in Africa and it is also a human rights obligation.”

Dr. Violet Odala, Children and the Law Programme Manager from ACPF stresses that governments should take concrete actions and all necessary measures to enhance transparency and accountability so as to combat corruption, wastage of resources and overall inefficiency in public services.

Kenya is not new to Corruption. We’ve all heard of scandals making headlines that immensely affect children in the society especially on health, education and even food insecurities. We always have to put in mind about the future, which is our children, who suffer from our doings either directly or indirectly.

Corruption is eating us up and worst eating fundamentally on our children in society. 33, 000 children is a figure that represents millions of children that undergo corruption either in hush or openly. If we want to make our continent healthier we must have a collective effort to battle this giant down and triumph against it with an extensive range.

The report calls upon AU member states – supported by the African Union, United Nations, development partners, and civil society – to take the following actions: Prioritize addressing corruption within key sectors for children, Increase budget transparency, Use child rights mechanisms to report on actions taken to end corruption, Educate children about corruption and empower them to help stop it, Share and scale-up good practices in fighting corruption, Increase the evidence base on how corruption impacts children and Ratify and fully implement the 2003 African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

This particular report will be launched on a continental event set to happen on Tuesday, 19th March in Addis Ababa at the African Union Commission Headquarters.

### CorruptFreeAfrica

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