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25 May 2011

Poorer African states put children first: study

The oil-rich governments of Sudan and Angola are among the worst in Africa for looking after children, while poorer Tanzania, Mozambique and Niger are the best.

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The oil-rich governments of Sudan and Angola are among the worst in Africa for looking after children, while poorer Tanzania, Mozambique and Niger are the best, a study showed on Tuesday.

The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) research looked at health, education and other social spending as a proportion of the overall budget in order to gauge governments' commitment to nurturing children - key to improving long-term national economic prospects.

Poorer countries scored highest, dedicating a bigger share of their spending to social programs, the report said, while wealthier nations, such as Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Sudan, fared worst.

The report

The report did not speculate on the reasons behind the difference.

South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, made it into the top ten because of a lavish education budget that makes up about 20% of all government spending.

However, its schools system - one of the tools used by the white-minority government to oppress blacks in the decades before democracy in 1994 - remains in a poor state, ranking 130 out of 139 countries in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2010/11.

ACPF director David Mugawe urged African governments to live up to commitments made over the last decade to boost spending on education and health, which receives only 4-6% of the budget in most countries.

"We are both dismayed and disturbed by the gap between what we say and what we do in Africa for our children," Mugawe said.

"If Africa wants to achieve improved living standards and compete in the international arena we must invest in our children, and this must be reflected in our budget priorities."(Reuters Health/ May 2011)

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