The long-term aim of this initiative is to increase capacity for policy-relevant research on child poverty and protection in southern Africa.

This emphasis is important because children tend to be disproportionately located in poor households; they are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of poverty, and – without appropriate intervention to break the poverty cycle – poor children grow up to be poor adults who transmit poverty to the next generation.

The first phase included a review of the international rights and national legislative and policy frameworks in seven Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, and a review of available surveys that would allow for relevant child-centred analyses.

The second phase included identifying and meeting up with university researchers and representatives from local and international non-governmental organisations and development agencies in several SADC countries. The country visits were consolidated by a gathering in South Africa at the end of 2014 to present and discuss existing child indicator models and projects, and to reflect on opportunities and constraints for child indicator work and civil society engagements with national statistical agencies, among others. The meeting brought together researchers from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as the SADC secretariat, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa UNICEF country offices, the Southern Africa Trust, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, and Save the Children (South Africa and the Southern Africa regional offices).

The formation of a loose network of researchers working on child indicators was also workshopped. A representative each from the Children’s Institute, the Africa Child Policy Forum (Ethiopia) and Evidence-Based Development Institute of Southern Africa (Zambia) formed a task team to develop a concept note towards setting up the network.

In a related development, the Children’s Institute partnered with UNICEF, the African Child Policy Forum and the University’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative to co-host the 5th Conference for the International Society for Child Indicators. The conference will be held on 2 – 4 September 2015 at the University under the theme “From welfare to well-being: Child indicators in research, policy and practice”.

This project was supported by the Southern Africa Trust in 2013 and 2014.

Project team members: Katharine Hall and Winnie Sambu. Also see the Children Count website for a range of child-focused indicators tracked over time.