COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of 262.5 million children in Africa, the continent’s most vulnerable population, The Save the Children International has revealed.
In its latest report titled “COVID-19 Impacts on African Children,” released on Monday, the charity highlighted how the pandemic had jeopardised African children’s access to formal learning, exposing them to the risk of being sexually abused or recruited by force into an armed group.
The report indicates that “more than 368 million school children globally are now missing out on school meals on which they depend, noting that 3.5 million of these children reside in Southern and Central Africa.
Eric Hazard, Panafrican Campaign and Policy Director at Save the Children, said the existing vulnerabilities coupled with the challenges posed by the pandemic could put development progress in Africa on the reverse.
“With the rapid spread of COVID-19, this pandemic is overburdening the under-resourced African health systems and disrupting routine health services, jeopardising Africa children’s access to formal learning, health and safety and protection,” Hazard said.
“Especially girls and this is unfolding in Africa against a backdrop of worrying hunger levels driven by climate shocks, conflict and economic challenges.”
Between June and August 2020, the international aid organisation projects that 19 million people in West and Central Africa would be food and nutritionally insecure due to agricultural logistical constraints and labour shortages caused by COVID-19.
The report hinted that the food insecure population in Africa could double in the coming months, which has a serious nutritional impact on children.
It also highlighted that malaria deaths could hit the 769,000 mark in Africa which is the highest in 20 years due to disruption of insecticide-treated net campaigns and access to antimalarial medicines as the lockdown enforced across the continent brought activities to a halt.
Hazard urged African member states to ensure high-level political commitment and leadership across all sectors involved in COVID-19 response and provide a synergy that will provide viable solutions.
“As a child rights organisation, we have adapted our strategies and approaches to protect the most vulnerable children and ensure that their rights are protected but this requires a coordinated effort, led by African governments,” he said.
“The main threats, the COVID-19 pandemic poses to children in Africa suggests some of the political and programmatic responses protect children’s rights.”