Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon. The World Development Report 2000/2001 (see World Bank, 2001) summarizes the various dimensions as a lack of opportunity, lack of empowerment and a lack of security. The window of opportunity remains closed to the poor masses, and this makes them practically inactive in the society. Their lack of empowerment limits their choices in almost everything and their lack of security makes them vulnerable to diseases, violence and so on. Similarly, a United Nations statement says: ‘Poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to; not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation. 11 United Nations Statement of June 1998, which was signed by the heads of all UN agencies’. In Nigeria, widespread and severe poverty is a reality. It is a reality that depicts a lack of food, clothes, education and other basic amenities. Severely poor people lack the most basic necessities of life to a degree that it can be wondered how they manage to survive. There are several effects and deficiencies associated with poverty in Nigeria. One of the main effects of poverty is poor health, as is reflected in Nigeria’s high infant mortality and low life expectancy. Poor people in Nigeria face several health issues as they lack basic health amenities and competent medical practitioners. Most children do not have the opportunity of being immunized and this leads to certain physical defects in some of the children. Their health has become low priority and as they have little or no choices, they live with whatever they are provided with, whether healthy or not.
Children growing up in poverty experience many disadvantages which accumulate across the life cycle. Poverty has multiple, negative impacts on children’s outcomes leading to inequalities in health, cognitive development, psychosocial development and educational attainment .These inequalities are evident from preschool children through children during the school years, from entry into the labour market to resources for retirement, from mortality rates in later life, and ‘often on to the next generation’ .The implication that trajectories may already be set for children living in poverty is viewed as a cause for concern and area of intervention.
This project will try to use the empirical evidence on the impacts of poverty on children’s outcomes and on the factors highlighted as having an effect on these outcomes to help those working with children and their families understand these children’s experiences and support needs. In this briefing, the term ‘children’ includes young people up to 18 years old