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Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

REGIONAL CONTEXT ............................................................................................................................... 2


1.

CAMBODIA ......................................................................................................................................... 4

2.

MYANMAR ......................................................................................................................................... 10

3.

PHILIPPINES ....................................................................................................................................... 14

4.

THAILAND......................................................................................................................................... 17

5.

VIETNAM............................................................................................................................................ 20

Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

REGIONAL CONTEXT1
Over the last decade countries in South East and East Asia have undergone unprecedented
transformation, with rapid economic growth resulting in significant progress against the MDGs in China,
Thailand and Vietnam particularly. Countries such as the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos, whilst also
having experienced growth and making good progress in some areas, have not fared quite as well.
Whilst it is not possible to generalise across South East and East Asia, with China now a key global
power, Myanmar undergoing unprecedented political and economic reform and DPRK remaining as one
of the most politically and economically isolated countries in the world, to name just three countries,
certain trends and common child protection themes are emerging.
In countries that have experienced economic expansion, achievements towards meeting the MDGs have
been very impressive, particularly in reducing poverty, providing universal primary education and in
reducing maternal and under-five mortality rates. However, a pattern of growing inequalities is emerging,
particularly where growth has been most pronounced such as in China, Thailand and Vietnam. Almost
without exception ethnic minorities, migrant workers and socially and economically excluded groups
including the disabled and those living with HIV/AIDS and communities affected by conflict and/or
natural disasters have not benefited significantly from economic growth. Many remote rural areas remain
impoverished and with rapid urbanisation, urban poverty is becoming an increasing phenomenon.
Wide spread urbanisation and migration are having a significant impact on children; for those moving
with parents or alone and for those left behind, with an estimated 60 million children left behind in
China alone. In many countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China, migrant children are
technically excluded from services like education and health care, as enrolment is based on household
registration and birth certificates. The prevention of trafficking and sexual exploitation and harmful child
labour is a primary concern, with migrants at much greater risk. Whilst many countries have taken
significant steps to introduce and comply with international law and apply safeguarding measures,
childrens right to protection is compromised by inadequate implementation and monitoring of
legislation both domestically and internationally.
Insufficient government investment in health, education, social welfare and protection compound family
poverty, inequality and lack of access to basic services, leading to daily violations of childrens rights to
survival, development, protection and participation. Maternal and infant mortality rates for many groups
remain unacceptably high, with malnutrition and stunting still widespread across the regions.
Discrimination based on ethnicity, language, religion, income, rural/ urban location, gender, disability and
other diversity factors are all significant contributory factors to the violations of children rights.
Asia is one of the most disaster prone regions in the world, with the number of disasters experienced
each year increasing, particularly rapid-onset, hydro-meteorological related disasters, earthquakes and
tsunamis. These disasters are growing in complexity; exacerbated by population growth, urbanisation,
conflict and political isolation. In many parts of South East and East Asia rapid urbanisation has taken
place without due regard for safe building practices, increasing vulnerability to natural disasters.
Frequent episodes of floods and droughts, even when modest in scale, erode livelihoods, increase food
insecurity and have negative effectives on household incomes. This has a direct impact upon childrens
1

Lifted from CSP Review: South East and East Asia. Under the one Save the Children and in preparation for the post 2015 Global
Strategy, country programs in South East and East Asia have undergone a strategic review process, producing Country Strategic
Plans (CSPs) for the period 2012/3 to 2015. This Regional Context is based on the review of CSPs from the following countries:
Cambodia, China, DPRK, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam

Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

rights to health, nutrition education and protection. The poorest communities are the most vulnerable
to the effects of these events; children are frequently removed from school, either as a short term
measure or permanently, as a consequence.
Conflicts across South East and East Asia affect the lives of millions of children, where sectarian violence
and displacement are recurring events. Underage recruitment of children into armed forces and factions
continues in those countries where there is on-going armed conflict. In the Mindanao region of the
Philippines, for example, 120,000 people have died, 2 million people displaced and over 200 schools and
535 mosques have been destroyed over the last 4 decades. On-going insecurity has led to
underdevelopment and lack of basic services in the region.
The accidental death of children, mainly though drowning and road traffic accidents, is the leading cause
of morbidity of children in several countries in the region. In Thailand, for example, 60% of child deaths
between the ages of 1 and 17 are caused by accidents. In Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia efforts are
now focusing on reducing the numbers of accidental deaths of children, often as part of broader disaster
risk reduction strategies.
Chinas rapid economic transformation has been accompanied by impressive progress against the MDGs,
but the country has also seen a steady increase in income inequalities, compounded by acute urban-rural
and regional disparities. Official figures put the under-five mortality rate at 18.4 per 1000, but estimates
for Tibet suggest under 5 mortality rates are potentially higher than 35.3 per 1000. Whilst China is well
on track to achieving a largely literate population, key challenges remain. Disabled children face
considerable constraints accessing education; access to pre-primary school for children for rural and
migrant children is an issue; and there are significant absolute numbers of non-enrolled children and
school drop outs. Old challenges persist including the protection of Chinas one million institutionalised
orphans and child trafficking, but new ones are emerging such as encouraging younger children into state
boarding schools.
Similarly Thailand ranks high among middle-income countries and has made impressive progress towards
meeting the MDGs, particularly in reducing poverty, providing universal primary education and securing
access to clean water and sanitation for more than 97% of the population. But Thailand is also one of
the most unequal countries in the world, with 5 million people living below the poverty line and home
to approximately 2.4 million migrants from Myanmar, Lao, and Cambodia, over half of whom have no
legal status. Violent ethic conflict continues in the south of the country, with more than 5,000 people
killed since 2001. Cases of child abuse, exploitation and trafficking are not uncommon with 600,000
street children and 88,000 children abandoned in hospitals, shelters and public places. Child
pornography and commercial sex exploitation are a serious issue, with an estimated 60,000 children
involved in illegal prostitution.
Vietnam has emerged as one of the most robust economies in the Asia Pacific region, with an annual
GDP growth of 7.5% over the past 5 years. With significant reduction in poverty rates Vietnam is on
track to meet most of the MDGs. However, overall progress masks acute social, ethnic and regional
inequalities, especially for the most vulnerable groups. Maternal and neonatal mortality remains high,
particularly in remote and minority communities.
Economic gains made in the Philippines over the last six years have been offset by high population
growth, armed conflict and natural disasters. Poverty indicators have not improved for the last few
years, with income disparities becoming more pronounced due to uneven regional development; some

Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

of the MDGs such as eradicating hunger, improving maternal health and achieving universal primary
education will not be met.
Rapid economic growth in both Laos and Cambodia has not been accompanied by significant
improvements in public services and has been characterised by growing inequality. Significant MDG
targets will not be achieved in either country. Vulnerability to cyclical natural disasters, particularly
flooding and drought, urbanisation and migration for work have all had negative impacts on many
childrens lives. In the last 15 years in Laos, for example, droughts affected more than 4.25 million
people and frequent flooding in the Mekong River has affected more than 3.45 million people,
undermining livelihoods and reducing household incomes..
Myanmar has undergone unprecedented political, social and economic change with the recent transfer of
power from a military to a civilian government focused on democratic reform, economic growth and
international reengagement. Migration of young people and adults is widespread within Myanmar,
especially to urban areas and across the borders to Thailand, China, Malaysia and other destinations;
associated risks of child trafficking and economic and sexual exploitation are high. Efforts are underway
to prevent recruitment of children as soldiers and to release and reintegrate children from Tatmadaw,
Myanmars armed forces.
Since the mid-1990s the DPRK has not been able to meet the most basic needs of the population,
including adequate food, medicine or clean water. Health care provision, once extensive and
comprehensive, has already reached the point of non-sustainability. Local clinics, the first point of access,
are ill-equipped to provide the basics of primary health care due to a shortage of drugs, equipment and
limited or no access to clean water. International condemnation of DPRK has restricted aid flows, as
donors continue to conflate humanitarian aid with political objectives, with pledges of food aid and other
essential items, cut on numerous occasions as a direct result of the latest military moves by Pyongyang.
As a result malnutrition rates in DPRK remain very high. Currently about one in four women of
reproductive age (15-49) are malnourished and amongst children under five, the rates of stunting are
32%, underweight 19% and wasting is at 5% of the population. Infant and maternal mortality rates remain
considerably higher than in the 1990s.

1.

CAMBODIA

Child Rights Situation Analysis and trends2


Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected government and a population of approximately
14 million. The population of Cambodia is young, with children under 18 years making up 41%3. Despite
significant and sustained economic growth over the past decade, largely fuelled by the garment sector,
construction, agriculture and tourism, the benefits of this growth have not been distributed equitably.
Cambodia ranks 137 (of 187) in the Human Development Index, and more than 40% of the population
lives on less than $1.25 per day. Only one fifth of the population of rural areas has access to sanitation.
The poorest families, both rural and urban are highly vulnerable to shocks (ill-health, accidents and
natural disasters) which can push them into debt, landlessness and a cycle of rights violations. Economic
growth and inequity have also seen increases in urbanisation and migration.

Lifted from Save the Children in Cambodia Country Strategic Plan 2013-2015

Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

More than 20% of Cambodians lived in urban centres by 2010, with the rate of urbanisation estimated to
increase by 3.2% per year. Increasing numbers of people in Cambodia are migrating for work including
fathers, mothers, youth and children. While some parents migrate with their families in search of work,
or encourage children themselves to migrate in search of work, other children are left behind, often in
the care of their grandparents or other related caregivers. Thus, families are being separated and the
children left behind face increased vulnerability and discrimination, especially if their parents are unable
to send back regular income.
While recognising trends towards urbanisation and economic growth, the Cambodia Human
Development Report highlights how the rural economy remains the cornerstone of national
development, and draws attention to the needs of the poorest families. Limited assets and entitlements,
institutional constraints, limited capacity and knowledge, and fundamental governance challenges remain
key factors leading to persistent poverty in Cambodia. The key environmental problems in Cambodia
include habitat loss and declining biodiversity (in particular, destruction of mangrove swamps and
declining fish stocks), deforestation, land degradation and natural hazards and disasters. Climate change
is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts
and windstorms, as well as coastal inundation due to sea-level rises. Cambodia ranks fifth out of 162
countries in terms of population exposed to flooding and loses an estimated US$0.9 billion in GDP
annually due to floods alone.
Root causes
The Child Rights Situation Analysis (CRSA) identified common root causes that cut across children's
rights violations, the most prominent being the low status and related low power of children. Sociocultural attitudes, beliefs and norms towards children contribute to traditional gender roles being
assigned to girls and boys. Cambodian traditions and culture have a strong respect for hierarchy and age,
valuing elders and underestimating childrens capabilities. As a result, childrens views are hardly ever
sought and not considered in decisions and actions that affect them within the family, the community
and at national level. Because of their low status, children do not have power, and the general public is
hardly aware of children's rights. Therefore, the Government encounters little pressure to prioritise
investing in children, which is reflected in low budgets for education, health and social services, resulting
in poor infrastructure and lack of services.
Policies and legislation are often poorly resourced, implemented and enforced. Cambodia has a multipleparty political system, and has been governed by the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party since 1998. There
is little real engagement and dialogue between opposition parties and the ruling party. As well as being
discriminated against because of their age, children face discrimination because of their gender, disability,
ethnicity, HIV status or being poor.
Cambodia is facing an increasing gap between rich and poor leading to inequity; where the poor are
excluded from services because they cannot afford them, and where they cannot exercise their rights or
appeal decisions and actions that negatively affect them because they lack information, knowledge and
resources. Inequity is further exacerbated by poor governance, lack of enforcement of laws and policies,
impunity and corruption. As a result, many poor parents in Cambodia are faced with numerous
obstacles in their best efforts to care for and educate their children. Efforts by government duty bearers
and civil society organisations (CSO) aiming to support children, lack effective coordination and
cooperation, which further contribute to ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

Conflicts arising from land concessions and disputes worsen the precarious situation of poor children in
Cambodia. Communities are often poorly prepared when serious natural disasters occur resulting in
loss of lives, livelihoods, livestock and damaged infrastructure, which ultimately increase poverty and
risks of human rights violations.
General Measures of Implementation. There is no comprehensive child protection law covering all
principles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), although significant
improvements can be seen in legislation, policies and ministerial guidelines concerning education, health
and protection. However, implementation of laws and policies is poor, and dealt with in an
uncoordinated way. The Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) charged with coordinating
relevant ministries for overall monitoring and implementation of the CRC lacks the necessary human,
political, technical and financial resources to fulfil its aims. Government departments are under no
obligation to refer or defer to the CNCC on issues related to children's rights. While plans are
underway to establish an independent National Human Rights Institution, currently there are no
provisions in place for establishing a child unit within such an institution.
Childrens civil and political rights. In 2008, on average across the provinces, 51% of infant births
were not registered, with the highest rates of non-registration in Ratanakiri (84%) and Preah Vihear
(71%)11. This presents a serious threat to childrens fundamental right to a name and identity. Children
in Cambodia, especially in rural areas, have limited access to sources of information and have limited
opportunities to express their views. Few opportunities exist for children to be part of child and youth
groups or to take part in governance decisions that affect them. The Cambodian government does not
have systematic efforts to develop and disseminate child- and youth-friendly information appropriate to
childrens evolving capacities on childrens rights, child protection, health issues, HIV/AIDS, drugs,
reproductive sexual health, and other issues of interest to children. In a survey of 440 children aged 9-17
years in 15 provinces, 45% felt that childrens access to information was poor. However, the
government process of decentralisation and deconcentration has opened up opportunities for the
participation of children, youth and marginalised groups in local decision making.
As in most countries, children in Cambodia have limited control over economic resources and assets,
and are denied the economic rights of adults, making them more vulnerable to poverty, exploitation and
abuse. Whereas many children are working, few have access to part or all of their income. In situations
where children are orphaned, wills are rarely used and some officials think children cannot manage
money, let alone property.
Family environment and alternative care. The Cambodian Law on Marriage and Family (1989)
promotes equality of the spouses in marriage, and strengthens the responsibility of parents to raise and
take care of their children. It also stipulates that after divorce both parents continue to have
responsibilities towards the education and development of their children. In practice, however, this is
hardly ever called upon. In 2010, children shared concerns regarding parents beating children and using
abusive language, the lack of care and warmth for children, and forcing children to earn a living to
support families13. Physical punishment and scolding children as a means of discipline continues to be the
socio-cultural norm in Cambodia, with 80% of children of all ages reporting being punished at home,
especially hitting with hands, feet, canes, sticks or whips. Domestic violence against women and children,
including sexual violence, remains an acute problem in Cambodia.
From 2005 to 2010 the number of orphanages increased 75%, from 154 to 269 residential centres, and
yet there was no corresponding rise in the number of orphans recorded in Cambodia. Many of these
residential centres are funded by foreign donors and visiting tourists, and potentially place children at
increased risks of abuse, neglect and exploitation14. Furthermore, the majority of children living in
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Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

residential care facilities are not double orphans, but have living parents. The Government has
undertaken significant policy developments concerning the care and protection of children in recent
years. However, insufficient budgetary allocations and the lack of well-trained social workers currently
hinder effective implementation of the policies and guidelines and existing social safety net initiatives.
Scholarships and food for work, for example, are fragmented in their implementation and limited in their
geographical coverage15.
Health. With the Government doubling the health budget from $114 million in 2006 to $224 million in
2009, the health situation for children in Cambodia is improving, resulting in declines in childhood
mortality and improvements in immunisation. The average under-five mortality rate is 5.4%, however
childhood mortality is much higher in rural areas (with an under-five mortality rate of 7.5%, compared
with 2.9% in urban areas)16. Children continue to die from preventable and treatable diseases including
diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Barriers to health services, including the cost of medicines and transport remain a concern for the
poorest families, especially in remote areas. In a 2010 survey, children shared concerns regarding limited
child health care services, describing how hospitals were far from their houses; that health centres were
small, understaffed and under-equipped; and physicians used impolite words. All of Cambodia is classified
as chronically food insecure, and 50% of children are affected by food insecurity. A 2011 survey found
that 54% of students report feeling hungry at school some or all of the time17. Currently, 40% of
children are stunted and 11% are wasted. These high numbers are mainly due to poverty, food
insecurity, maternal illiteracy and lack of awareness and understanding of child care and development.
Living conditions are rudimentary and sanitation standards are poor, making children susceptible to
disease. In some regions, gender influences nutritional status18. There is a lack of adolescent and
reproductive health services, counselling, and adolescent-friendly rehabilitation services in Cambodia,
especially in rural and remote areas. Young people are not able to access information about sexual
reproductive health in their schools and information is lacking communities.
Education. Although education is still not compulsory in Cambodia, the average net enrolment rate
(NER) for primary school has reached 95.2%, although disparities exist. Alarmingly, less than half of all
children who enter primary education will eventually complete grade 919. Early Childhood Care and
Development (ECCD) net enrolment rates are particularly low, at 11% for girls and boys in 2007. NER
in lower secondary school averages 35%, with 51.3% in urban areas and only 31.7% in rural areas. NER
in upper secondary school is 20.6% on average, 46.8% in urban areas compared with only 14.9% in rural
areas. The average completion rate in lower secondary school is 44% (only 40.8% in rural areas). For
upper secondary education the average completion rate reduces further to 28.5% (20% in rural areas).
Most children leave school due to family poverty or the need to work to contribute to the family
household and livelihood20. While gender disparities in education have reduced over the past decade,
gender continues to be a factor influencing childrens access to school and their drop out from school.
From the age of 12, household work is significantly more likely to interfere with girls' education than
boys21. From the age of 15, more girls are involved in productive work, further preventing them from
accessing education. If forced to choose, most poor households will keep girls at home to support the
family or earn a living, and boys will be educated22. While education is officially free in Cambodia, the
cost of school materials, uniform, transport and hidden fees makes studying expensive and can be a
heavy burden for poor households. Education is of low quality, with teachers lacking proper skills and
having only limited general understanding of the education curriculum and policies. In a recent study 80%
of children reported that they are sometimes hit by their teachers23. The Royal Government of
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Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

Cambodia (RGC) spends only 1.9% of its GDP on education, and education expenditure has dropped
since 200724.
The education system is struggling with limited budget and low investment in infrastructure, teacher
training and human resources. For a young population like Cambodia, the need to access quality
education is ever increasing. Every year more than 300,000 young people enter the labour market, and
despite recent rapid economic growth, unemployment and underemployment is rife. The education and
employment issues young people face today are interlinked. Without at least a basic education, the
chances of finding decent employment in the formal economic sector are low. The work available is
often low skilled, low paid and in many cases hazardous. Many children who stop their education before
they reach the age of 15 have no option but to engage in some form of work, be it within their family or
in the informal sector, such as domestic work, farm work and construction. They cannot find legal
employment because the Cambodian Labour Law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years.
In 2006, it was estimated that more than 1.5 million children aged between 7 and 17 were involved in
some kind of work, and that nearly 50% of Cambodian children are economically active by the age of 10.
The lack of education and skills leave youth poorly equipped to seek decent employment, with limited
information about potential jobs, the costs and benefits of their decisions and their living and working
environments in urban areas. Many end up trapped in menial jobs and in poverty. These adolescents and
youth are often excluded from the few social services on offer in rural areas, such as schemes to
support rural youth through scholarships or technical skills training, because of entry requirements such
as number of years education or lack of documents. Many Cambodian men, women, boys and girls
migrate to Thailand, Malaysia and other countries for work. Many are subjected to sex trafficking or
forced to work in the Thai fishing and seafood processing industry, on agricultural plantations, in
factories, in domestic work, or begging and street selling.
Special protection measures. Domestic violence, trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, both
boys and girls, are all major issues facing Cambodian children, yet many child abuse cases go unreported
because families feel it brings dishonour on them or believe the formal justice system does not protect
children. There have been constructive developments of laws and policies in relation to juvenile justice
in recent years, such as the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, that regulate the
detention of children in police custody and during pre-trial, the setting of a minimum age of criminal
responsibility at 14 years, and children's rights to legal support. However, there are no childrens courts,
or judges and prosecutors specialized in childrens rights. Children are often sentenced as adults by
courts, and generally held in adult prisons. Conditions of children in detention are appalling, some being
allowed only a few hours a week out of their overcrowded cells, and many face serious health risks as a
result of their incarceration. There is no proper place for children and young people to rehabilitate from
drug abuse, and indications are that drug and alcohol use by children and young people is escalating27.
Children and young people have expressed concerns about the negative impact of drug and alcohol use
by members of their families especially in terms of increased domestic violence, as well as practices
where children are sent to buy alcohol for their parent or caregiver.
Stakeholders in Cambodia
The Khmer Rouge destroyed Cambodia's social institutions, depleting the country of its social capital.
However, community-based organisations (CBOs) are again present in most villages, and are often
linked to development projects that focus on service delivery, sometimes in partnership with the
Government. International and local NGOs play a major role in providing or supporting basic social
services, often in remote areas and communities, and are present in every province and major sector in
Cambodia. In 2010 there were 1,495 local NGOs counted as being registered with the RGC, although
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approximately half of these are believed to be inactive. There were 337 international NGOs registered
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFA/IC)30. Organisations working
on childrens civil and political rights in Cambodia include the NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child
(NGO CRC), Cambodia Children and Young People Movement for Child Rights (CCYMCR), Child
Rights Foundation (CRF), Plan International, World Vision and UNICEF. A number of human rights
organisations operate in Cambodia, but they lack a specific child focus. Only a few NGOs work in the
field of juvenile justice, such as Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC) and Protection of Juvenile Justice (PJJ).
Many development partners participate in the dynamic health sector in Cambodia. In addition to around
20 multilateral and bilateral donors, there are more than 100 health-related international and national
NGOs. A significant number of international and local NGOs work on maternal and child health issues
including CARE, CRS, Helen Keller, Marie Stopes, PATH, PFD, Plan International, RACHA, RHAC, Save
the Children and URC.
A significant number of agencies are also working on HIV mitigation and response. Agencies working on
nutrition are under-represented across many parts of the country, and agencies working on hygiene and
health-prevention initiatives, including access to safe drinking water, are lagging behind. Quite a number
of international and national CSOs are working in education, however most local NGOs and
community-based organisations operate on a very small scale. The NGO Education Partnership (NEP) is
a membership organisation which promotes active collaboration between NGOs working in education,
and advocates with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) on behalf of its member
organisations in policy implementation and improvements in the education system. A significant number
of local NGOs are actively involved in prevention and protection of children from violence, exploitative
or harmful child labour, child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
While a number of coalitions and coordination mechanisms among NGOs have been established, they
are often poorly organised and issue-based, with little cooperation with government or other
professional associations such as trade unions, human rights associations, private sector associations and
academia. Various coalitions and working groups bring together local and international organisations
focusing on child protection in Cambodia; ECPAT and COSESCAM focus on sexual exploitation of
children, and the NGO CRC brings together organisations working on children's rights. Two
organisations, the NGO Forum and the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), aim to
coordinate and strengthen CSOs. The NGO Forum focuses on sector-based advocacy for development
effectiveness, while CCC aims to strengthen cooperation, professionalism, accountability, governance
and development effectiveness of civil society organisations across diverse sectors in Cambodia.
CNCC is a key government agency coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the CRC.
Significant steps in legislation, policy development and implementation of national plans of action have
been taken by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) in collaboration
with CNCC and relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Womens Affairs, Ministry of Interior,
Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Justice, to prevent and address human trafficking and forced
labour of children, as well as the worst forms of child labour, including sexual exploitation of children.
MoSVY has developed Prakas for the Implementation of the Policy on Alternative Care for Children and
Minimum Standards of Alternative care for children, as well as a national plan of action and Standards
and Guidelines for the Care, Support and Protection of Orphans and Vulnerable Children. UNICEF,
Save the Children and EveryChild work with MoSVY, CNCC and other concerned ministries to
strengthen their capacity to protect children, including support for policy and practice development, to
better protect children in conflict with the law. In education, the Joint Technical Working Group
(JTWG) chaired by the Minister for Education, has functioned as a platform for the Government and
development partners. It is represented by the Education Sector Wide Group (ESWG), composed of

Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

representatives from across the donor sector, for information sharing and consultation on policy-making
and planning among all the stakeholders in education.

2.

MYANMAR

Child Rights Situation Analysis and trends3


Childrens access to their rights has changed little over the past 5 years. Many children and their families
continue to live in abject poverty with extremely limited access to health care, education and basic
amenities. Child rights violations are deeply engrained in local customs and institutional practice.
Violence and emotional abuse are prevalent in both the home and at school. Child labour, allowable by
law at age 13, is common amongst boys and girls who work in various types of exploitative settings
including: teashops, brick manufacturing, fishing, commercial sex work and domestic service. Previously a
consistent violator of international standards on children in armed conflict, in 2012 the new government
made tangible steps towards the elimination of the practice by drafting and signing the Joint Action Plan
for the prevention of recruitment and use of children under 18 by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Military).
However, more widespread problems, particularly those with less political charge, including a growing
number of children on the street and in poorly managed and unregulated institutions remain
unaddressed.
Myanmars Child Law is the primary instrument that guides legal decisions related to children. The state
enacted the Child Law in 1993 in an effort to meet its obligations to the UNCRC. The National
Committee on the Rights of Children (NCRC) was formed at the same time to coordinate and monitor
implementation of the UNCRC in Myanmar. However, adequate resources have not been allocated and
the NCRC lacks authority to galvanize its National Plan of Action (2005-2015). Despite the
promulgation of the child law and establishment of the NCRC, the 2012 Committee on the Rights of the
Child report (CRC/C/MMR/CO/3-4) acknowledged that most recommendations from the 2004 second
report (CRC/C/15/Add.237) had not been sufficiently addressed or not addressed at all.
Myanmars health outcomes are amongst the poorest in the region. Chronic underfunding and lack of
political will has deteriorated health infrastructure and contributed to the lack of a sufficiently trained
health care workforce. Additionally, gender discrimination means that generalized and acute health
problems are higher for women and children. According to the World Health Organisation in 2010 only
69% of children with Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) symptoms were taken to a health facility and
per capital government expenditure on health was as low as 2.1 USD. Myanmar also has the highest
under-five and infant mortality rates in the region and is among the 24 high-burden countries with the
largest number of children under 5 years old who are moderately or severely stunted. The nationwide
prevalence of stunting is 35.1% and wasting is 7.9% (2.1% being severely acute malnourished). Chronic
food and nutrition insecurity, under-investment in rural development, poor health and public
infrastructure, remoteness and extreme weather events combine to limit the ability of many households
to access sufficient levels of nutritious food and income as well as basic services such as clean water and
healthcare.
Underinvestment in the education sector is also chronic. Despite a number of national plans, just over
half of Myanmars children complete primary school on time, with rural, poor, ethnic minority children,
3

Lifted from Myanmar Country Strategic Plan 2013-2016

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girls and children with disabilities most affected. Though technically free-of-charge, the costs of
uniforms, books and special tutoring makes attendance in public schools out of reach for many families.
Community and charity-driven schools have emerged to assist those who cannot afford the government
system, but, like the government schools, they suffer from under funding and a lack of skilled teachers.
Across the school system teaching methods are out-of-date, making school boring for students. Studentteacher ratios are high in primary and secondary schools as well as the teacher-training colleges. Early
Childhood Development services have expanded over recent years preparing children for success at the
primary level.
However, despite modest improvements in the education sector, greater sector wide investment,
financial and technical, is urgently needed to upgrade the education system to support the countrys
growing demand for a skilled workforce.
Disastrous agriculture policy, decades of isolation, low levels of foreign investment and global downturns
have contributed to high levels of household poverty, directly affecting the long-term health and wellbeing of Myanmars children. Many rural families live at or below subsistence levels, depending on small
scale farming and fishing for their livelihoods. Families are often trapped in a deep cyclical debt due to
lack of access to productive loans and the use informal money lending channels. Poor infrastructure
limits the viability of small and medium enterprises and there is no public social safety net to protect
families against income shock such as illness or disaster events. The lack of livelihoods options and
opportunities in many rural areas of the country has driven migration to countries bordering Myanmar
and led to increasing urbanisation, as people move to large cities within the country in search of work
and new opportunities.
The conflicts that continue to plague Northern Shan, Kachin, Kayin and Mon states are the longest
running civil wars in the world. During the 63 years of civil war in Myanmar there have been many
attempts to end hostilities. However, ceasefires and negotiations have repeatedly broken down leading
to a continual erosion of trust and cooperation between state and non state actors. The protracted
conflicts in the ethnic states of Myanmar have resulted in minimal investment by the Government and
international donors in social and economic development, leaving communities struggling to meet their
needs and distrustful of both state and non-state authorities. For the people living in conflict affected
states the impacts of the fighting have been devastating. Communities have been forced to move away
from their villages, losing access to agricultural land and productive assets, large areas of land have been
mined; causing death and serious injury among civilian populations and people have been unable to
access basic services such as education and health care. The conflicts have also led to large scale
displacement of families with an estimated 400,000 people displaced inside Myanmar and another
140,000 refugees living in 9 camps in Thailand.

Political, Economic, Environmental, Social, Technological, analysis and trends


Political: In March 2011 Thein Sein was sworn in as the new President of Myanmar, officially
transferring power to a new civilian government. Despite the fact that many senior members of the
government remained ex-military or had close ties to the military, Thein Seins government
implemented dramatic changes, moving the country towards greater democracy and away from decades
of international isolation.
During 2012, change continued to be rapid and far reaching. The National League for Democracy (NLD)
returned to political life, taking over 40 seats in local parliamentary elections. Aung San Suu Kyi
successfully contested the election and took her seat in parliament. The Government also took a major
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step towards media freedom, announcing that it would no longer censor private publications and in an
attempt to improve its international standing, released over 500 political prisoners. The Governments
increased openness and reform policies led to improvements in International relations. The US
Government restored diplomatic relations with Myanmar and, following the European Union and
Australian Governments decision to suspend sanctions, the Obama administration also eased the ban
on investment in Myanmar.
While the rapid pace of change has been positive, the speed and depth of change has created challenges
within government as Ministries and Departments have struggled to understand and come to terms with
the evolving political and social environment. The capacity of both national and sub national government
to increase transparency, deliver reforms and implement new policies remains poor and presents a
considerable threat to sustainable social and economic change in Myanmar. In addition, an increase in
inter community violence and, despite fragile ceasefires, the continuation of civil wars in the ethnic
states, threaten national development and the stability of Thein Seins government. The ability of the
Government to reign in the military, bring peace to Myanmars ethnic states and an end to inter
community violence will be critical factors to ensuring short term political stability and medium term
economic and social development in Myanmar. In the longer term, the Presidential elections, schedule
for 2015, will be a critical turning point for the Country. Aung San Suu Kyis widespread support and
popularity in Myanmar is likely to lead to a sweeping NLD election victory in 2015. The ability of Aung
San Suu Kyi and the NLD to govern the country effectively, drive forward peace processes and control
the powerful Military and their cronies will be key factors in ensuring national stability, the long term
development of the Country and the prosperity and wellbeing of the people of Myanmar.
Economic: Despite an abundance of natural resources, including: precious metals, gems and natural gas,
the majority of children and families in Myanmar continue to live in abject poverty. The 2012 UNDP
Human Development Index, ranked Myanmar 149 out of 185 countries. An estimated 2012 per capita
Gross National Income (GNI) of $1,817 placed Myanmar in the bottom tenth globally, in terms of GNI,
with Nepal, Rwanda and Uganda. The economy has grown incredibly slowly in comparison with the
booming economic growth of Myanmars neighbours. In 1987, the estimated per capita income was 31%
of Thailands (they were roughly equal in 1950) and 84% of Indias. Today that ratio has dropped to 6.3%
percent of Thailands and 24% of Indias. In relation to other countries in the region, the education
sector is grossly underfunded, leaving the countrys workforce poorly trained, underperforming and
unable to contribute effectively to national economic and social development.
Despite poor indicators, many economists and international financial institutions remain positive about
the economic outlook for Myanmar. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff report, produced
following consultations with Thein Seins government in 2011 stated, Myanmar could become the next
economic frontier in Asia if, with appropriate reforms, it can turn its rich natural resources, young labor
force, and proximity to some of the most dynamic economies, to its advantage. However, long term
economic development and growth in Myanmar are contingent on continued political stability and
ensuring that the benefits of economic growth are enjoyed by the entire population. The ADBs Thailand
Country Director summarised the challenges facing Myanmars Government in the 2012 Asian
Development Outlook; Myanmar is making a lot of the right moves to revitalize its economy, laying a
foundation for further foreign investment and commodity exports with currency changes, land reforms
and tax incentives. However, for Myanmar to ensure growth is sustainable and benefits all of the
countrys people, the government will have to accelerate reforms and enhance investment in education,
health and infrastructure.

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Environmental: Myanmar is highly exposed to recurrent hazards. Threats in coastal areas, including
floods, storm surges and cyclones, frequently affect populations along coastlines in the Ayeyawaddy
Delta and Rakhine State, threatening both lives and livelihoods. Cyclone Nargis, which affected large
areas of Ayeyawaddy and Yangon Division in May 2008, was by far the most devastating disaster in the
countrys history and highlighted the extreme vulnerability of the countrys coastal regions. Cyclone
Nargis points to a possible increase in frequency and intensity of cyclones affecting the area. This
supposition is supported by the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Fourth Assessment which suggests that a 1C increase in sea surface temperature will lead to a 31%
annual increase in the global frequency of Category 4 and 5 cyclones. The mountainous border areas of
the country are also prone to extreme weather events. The continuing felling of forests for timber and
clearing of land for agriculture leaves mountains and hill sides dangerously exposed to heavy monsoon
rains, increasing the risk of landslides and localised flooding.
Communities in the border areas are often situated in remote, difficult to reach locations, increasing the
impacts of disaster events and hampering recovery. Additionally, earthquakes and Tsunamis pose a
considerable risk in Myanmar. There are two major seismic faults in the country: the Sagaing Fault, a
continental transform fault between the Indian plate and Sunda Plate, passing through the cities of
Mandalay, Yamethin, Pyinmana, Naypyitaw, Toungoo and Pegu, and the Andaman Megathrust zone in the
west of the Country. Earthquakes are common with the country suffering 15 major earthquakes (7-7.9
Rs) between 1839 and 2008 and 25 strong earthquakes (6-6.9 Rs) between 1950 and 2008. Despite the
multitude of hazards and high level of risks facing people in Myanmar, the governments capacity to
mitigate and respond to disaster events is extremely limited. There remains much to be done at both
the policy and implementation levels to increase community resilience and ensure effective nationwide
emergency preparedness and response.
Social: The lack of livelihoods options and opportunities in many rural areas of the country have led to
increasing levels of urbanisation as people move to large cities in search of work and new opportunities.
According to the CIA Factbook, in 2010 the population of Yangon was 4.2 million and that of Mandalay
just over 1 million. Thirty four percent of Myanmars estimated 60 million inhabitants live in cities with
the annual rate of urbanisation close to 3% (compared to 1.8% in Thailand and 3.2% in Vietnam). While
urbanisation rates are broadly similar to many countries in the region, urban centres in Myanmar are ill
prepared for increasing urban populations. Much of the infrastructure (public buildings, roads and
housing) in Yangon and Mandalay are in a state of decay and there has been very little investment in city
planning and preparation for urban growth. As populations in urban centres increase, children from
poor families are more exposed to a range of abuses and violations of their rights including: trafficking,
child labour and under nutrition. In addition, children and their families face increasing difficulty in
accessing quality education and health care as already under resourced government services struggle to
keep pace with increasing demand.
Religious and socially/culturally driven conflicts are increasing in Myanmar. The outbreak of violence in
Rakhine between Buddhist and Muslim populations during 2012, leading to a series of similar outbreaks
of racist violence in others areas of the country, highlights the fragile nature of inter community,
religious and ethnic group relations and the potential for violent civil unrest. In addition, as a result of
the long term politically driven conflicts in the ethnic states, there remain over 500,000 displaced people
in Myanmar and bordering countries. While refuges and IDPs are not likely to return en mass within the
next two years, the political reforms in Myanmar increase the likelihood of a growing number of
refugees and IDPs returning voluntarily to communities in the South East of the Country. Returning
families face a variety of difficulties. Integrating back into communities, accessing basic services, such as
health and education and securing viable livelihoods are considerable challenges for poor returnee and

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IDP families with minimal resources. Children are particularly vulnerable as families adopt negative
coping strategies to survive, withdrawing children from school or forcing children to work. Under and
unemployed youth also face multiple risks including: recruitment into military groups, trafficking or
undertaking risky migration to urban centres in Myanmar or beyond. Furthermore, the return of
displaced families to poor communities, where access to resources and services are already limited,
increases the risks of both inter and intra community conflict.
Technological: Technological development in Myanmar lags far behind other countries in the region.
Myanmar has fewer phones per capita than any other country in the world and a very low rate of
Internet connectivity. Mobile phone penetration within the population is estimated between 1 and 5%,
with internet access of less than 1%. According to the ADB, in 2010 mobile usage in Myanmar was as
low as 1.24% of the population, compared with 64% in Laos, 57% in Cambodia and over 100 per cent
in Thailand and Malaysia, where individual ownership of multiple phones pushes usage above population
levels.
Recognising the importance of mobile phone and internet access to the growth of the economy, the
Government of Myanmar has set targets for 2G and 3G penetration by 2014 of 75% and 40% of the
population respectively. During 2012, in support of attaining these targets, Myanmars Post and
Telecommunications Department announced the introduction of a new telecommunications law. The
law created four new telecommunications licences in Myanmar and, in a move away from previous
legislation; all of the licensees allowed for partnership with foreign investors. In June 2013, the first of
these licences, a 15-year concession for mobile phone networks, was awarded to Telenor Mobile
Communications of Norway and Ooredoo of Qatar. As mobile and internet technology improve in
Myanmar, in addition to economic benefits, there is potential for social benefits, including: improvements
in healthcare and education and more unquantifiable benefits such as strengthened social engagement
and connection.

3.

PHILIPPINES

Situational Analysis4
General Context
The Philippines is an archipelago composed of approximately 7,000 islands including the three major
islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It has a population of more than 90 million in 2009, making it
the 12th among nations with the highest populations in the world. Approximately 12.5% of the
population is under 5 years old, and 47% is under 20; roughly half of the population are children and
adolescents.
Although the Philippines is now rated as a low middle income country, the benefits are only felt by a
small minority as exemplified by the striking disparity between the rich and the poor. The Philippines
continues to be the sick man of Asia, failing to take off and lagging behind its ASEAN neighbors despite
its vast potentials. Poverty incidence is 32.9%, only 75% of school-age population is able to finish
secondary education, maternal mortality ratio remains high at 162 maternal deaths per 100,000 live

4 Lifted from Save the Children in the Philippines Country Strategic Plan 2011-2015

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births, infant mortality rate is 25 deaths per 1,000 live births, and under-five mortality rate is 34 deaths
per 1,000 live births. In addition, the country is one of the most prone to natural disasters globally,
complicated by long-standing armed conflict with Muslim separatist, communist and terrorist/bandit
groups.
In 1990, the Philippine government ratified the UNCRC as an enabling mechanism to promote and
advance the rights of children below 18 years old. After two decades, the task of realizing childrens
rights is still something that needs to be accomplished. For instance, one in four children live on less
than two dollars a day, one in two do not get healthcare when they need it, and more than one in three
do not finish sixth grade. With this snail-paced development, the Philippines is unlikely to meet most of
its Millennium Development Goals for children by 2015.
The occurrence of unjust poverty and hunger in about 45% of the countrys population (around 19
million are children), have the following impacts on children: high malnutrition rates, more deaths due to
preventable diseases, poor performance in school, increasing number of out of school children and
youth, and a high incidence of child labor. Added to the burden of poor children and their families is the
countrys low agricultural productivity and competitiveness, lack of rural development investments,
disadvantageous trade policies, lack of a comprehensive disaster risk reduction plan and the persistent
armed-conflict in Mindanao. These circumstances have significant implications to continued access of
children and their families to development opportunities, food security, health and education services,
and protection from natural and man-made calamities.
The decentralized form of government presents an opportunity for stakeholders to influence local
decisions for children; however, the status quo remains due to gaps in the implementation of national
and local laws for children, limited resources and capacity of local government units to implement
childrens programs, and the lack of political will among government leaders to put childrens concerns
in their priority development agenda. In 2010, 22% of government budget was allocated for debt
servicing and interest payments which leaves a minimal percentage for social services for children. The
increasing rural to urban migration has led to a ballooning population of urban poor sharing crowded
cities, meagre livelihood opportunities and resources, while the increasing overseas labor migration has
resulted in increased family separation with negative long-term effects on children and higher incidence
of child trafficking for labor and prostitution.

Thematic Context
Education. Basic Education remains inaccessible to many, of poor quality, and lacking in budget
support. These problems are basically rooted in the higher cost of education, the distance of school
from the residence, the limited books and poor school facilities, among others.
Around 4 million Filipino children are not in school. Those who are in school drop out because their
families cannot afford the costs and many are forced to help earn a living. Three out of 10 Filipino
children who started in Grade 1 will not reach Grade 6. Child marriage, teenage pregnancy, armed
conflict, natural disasters, hunger and malnutrition also keep Filipino children out of school. Given the
current budget for education, it is estimated that the government will not be able to fund seats for 3
million students, 33 million textbooks, and salaries for 30,000 teachers
In rural and indigenous areas, access to school is very limited, if not at all available. Children have to
walk several miles just to be in school. In the indigenous community in Mindanao where Save the

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Children works, 2 out of 5 children can neither read nor write. They are also hindered by the bilingual
policy to fully learn in school.
The condition is further aggravated by the partial implementation of the Early Childhood Care and
Development Act (RA 8980), poor quality of pre-school services leaving majority of Grade 1 students
unprepared for elementary education.
Health and Nutrition. Despite the reported decline, infant and under-five mortality rates remain high
due to preventable illnesses like respiratory infections, diarrhea, bacterial sepsis and other conditions
which are prevalent in rural and poor communities. The slow progress in improving primary childrens
health indicators is attributed to low health budget allocations from government, acute shortage of staff
and health facilities, low childrens vaccination rates particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM), and the closure of many hospitals and clinics. Further complicating the situation are
the inter-related issues of access, availability, affordability and acceptability of health services and facilities
which results in more mothers dying from preventable pregnancy and child-birth related complications.
This also translates into less than half of births nationwide being delivered in a health facility and lack of
access of mothers to quality prenatal and post-natal health care. Likewise, the country does not have a
comprehensive reproductive health policy in place. Malnutrition and stunting continue to be a major
cause of under-five deaths due to poverty and poor feeding practices. More adolescents and young
people engage in risky behaviors that lead to an increase in early pregnancies and sexually-transmitted
infections.
There is also a general lack of access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation, and worm infestation
is common. The migration of medical professionals abroad continues to compromise health services,
especially in rural areas. Moreover, as a result of decentralization, health care services are sometimes
used as instruments of political patronage, rather than as matters of right.
Child Protection. The root causes leading to protection issues for children are complex and include
poverty, family breakdown and violence and manifest in a number of circumstances where children are
particularly at risk. These include hazardous work, sex trafficking and prostitution, having to live and
work in the streets, early sexual intercourse, early and/or forced marriage particularly in rural areas, and
conflict with the law. These despite laws and mechanisms to protect children such as, the Special
Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination(RA7610); the Anti-Child
Pornography Law; the Local Councils for the Protection of Children(LCPCs); and the Inter-Agency
Council against Trafficking. The lack of effective implementation of the existing laws on child protection
is one of the underlying causes why the circumstances still exist. This is aggravated by the fact that
parents, caregivers and the general public have a low level of awareness and capacity to initiate child
protection measures, and the lack of government political will to make LCPCs functional in every
community. Children and other stakeholders are also not able to participate in and influence policies and
decision-making processes in relation to child protection.
Disaster and Climate Change. The country sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire which makes it prone to
typhoons and other natural calamities that generate disasters and emergency situations. Ironically, the
government has no comprehensive plan to address multiplier effects of natural hazards on lives and
properties. Related to disaster is climate change which has immeasurable impact on child survival and
development. Recently, two important laws on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and
Management have been passed. However, their full implementation has yet to be felt on the ground by
the vulnerable population particularly the poor children and their families. They are vulnerable since
they are living in high-risk and hazard prone areas and they do not have the knowledge and skills in

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disaster preparedness. Poor families do not have the financial capability to rebuild their lives and regain
their productive assets when disaster strikes. Hence, they are unable to provide support and protection
to children after an emergency.
Other issues include the following: (1) Absence of legislation to protect children from violence and
exploitation during armed conflict and natural disasters; (2) Evacuation camps do not cater to the needs
and concerns of children; (3) Humanitarian relief goods are not child-focused nor age-specific; (4)
Emergency recovery which restores the economic and social life of vulnerable children and their families
are not prioritized and remains unfunded (5) Perspectives and views of children in Disaster Risk
Reduction (DRR) discussions and planning are not included; (6) Limited involvement of children in DRR;
(7) No standard in package of services for children in emergency response; and (8) No standard and
protocols in civil military cooperation in emergency response. This puts childrens lives in danger
especially in conflict situations.
Childrens Participation. Although there are venues for childrens participation such as the
Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council), Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC), and
the National Anti-Poverty Commission-Children Basic Sector (NAPC-CBS), it is still difficult for children
to be heard because they are still viewed as mere beneficiaries of programs and services, and not as
active agents of their own development. Participation is largely interpreted as providing children with a
seat in the locally-mandated structures but not as meaningfully involving them in community processes
based on their evolving capacities. As such, childrens participation is reduced to tokenism and
convenient accommodation.
The work on childrens participation has also been limited to a few groups of children that were formed
and organized by child-focused organisations. Many of these organisations also do not get adequate
support from adults in effectively running and managing their own organisations.

4.

THAILAND

Child Rights Situation Analysis5


Thailand is an upper middle-income country recognized by the World Bank and UNDP to have made
substantial progress in human development within the last twenty years. The country is currently ranked
103rd out of 187 countries on the 2013 Human Development Report and has reduced the percentage
of the population living below the international poverty line from 11.6 in 1990 to 0.4 in 2012. Thailands
achievements in addressing the MDGs are also commendable, especially in regards to reducing poverty,
providing universal primary education, and promoting gender equality. The maternal mortality and
under-five mortality rates have greatly decreased and more than 97 percent of the population, both in
urban and rural areas, now have access to clean water and sanitation.
Despite Thailands successes in improving areas of human development, these benefits have not reached
all children in Thailand, especially those who are marginalized, including children of ethnic minorities,
children in the conflict-affected provinces in the Deep South, and children on the move, particularly
migrants. For the fourth year in a row, Thailand continues to be on the Tier 2 Human Trafficking Watch
List while reports suggest that Thailand could drop to Tier 3. The Royal Thai government has been
5

Lifted from Save the Children in Thailand Strategic Plan 2014 2015

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active in creating new laws and regulations for child protection, but laws primarily apply to those who
are Thai, which means that 377,000 children residing from neighboring countries are unaccounted for.
As Thailand continues to urbanize and cities attract people from rural areas across the country, there
will be a greater influx of children moving in and out of provinces, making it even more critical to
establish a secure system of child protection that ensures the rights of all vulnerable children.
All children in Thailand should have a right to life and survival yet injury is the leading cause of morbidity
in children aged 1-17; 60% of childrens deaths are from injury, the main causes of which are drowning
and road traffic accidents. Thailand has the 2nd most dangerous roads in the world and the highest
number of deaths by motorcycles. Currently, Thailand has the lowest exclusive breastfeeding rate in
Asia and the highest number of HIV infections in South-East Asia. In 2010, 16,000 children were living
with HIV while 250,000 children aged 0-17 became orphans due to AIDS. The Thai government has had
an 85% success rate in granting access to ART but this is only to Thai nationals; the percentage of
migrants, particularly migrant children, receiving HIV/AIDs treatment is unknown.
All children in Thailand should have the right to development yet there is an increasing trend of unsafe
sex, which has been linked to higher numbers of teenage pregnancies and lower school enrollment. In
2008, there were 118,921 pregnancies under the age of 19 including 2,715 under the age of 15. As
abortion is only legal in cases of rape or serious risk to the mothers health, 64% of pregnant women
under 25 seek illegal abortions. (It is reported that those who have money can secure a doctors
approval for a legal abortion, while the poor cannot afford such a prescription.) Extreme coping
mechanisms include using a golf club for an abortion, to mothers selling their pregnant daughters into
prostitution. The use of drugs has also exponentially increased as the age of first time users become
younger. The number of juvenile crimes rose significantly from 12.9% in 2007 to 38.4% in 2008. In terms
of education, there are large drops in school attendance within the general population after junior high.
Mean scores in National Achievement Test for Grade 6 and 12 students have fallen below average in key
subject areas. While there was an increase in migrant childrens school attendance from 2003-2008, this
only accounts for 13-28% of migrant children. In Thailand, migrant children account for the biggest
number of children who are not in school.
All children in Thailand should have the right to protection but more than 600,000 children are living in
Thailand without legal status so they cannot be granted access to the laws that were created for child
protection, especially migrant children and children who are stateless. The government has taken
affirmative action by establishing the Birth Registration Act, which allows all births, Thai or non-Thai, to
be registered, but the process for registration is very complicated, requiring both delivery certification
(generally at a medical facility) and district level certificate at a government office, so many parents fail to
follow the whole process. The number of street children and cases of child abuse, exploitation, and
trafficking remain high: 40% of the 600,000 street children in Thailand are from neighboring countries
like Myanmar and Cambodia. Many turn to the streets because of homelessness, poverty, domestic
violence and rapid urbanization. Worryingly, an estimated 44% of migrant child workers are engaged in
the worst forms of child labour, however, as labour inspectors cannot reach many hidden workplaces or
factories, the actual proportion is likely higher. Child pornography and commercial sex exploitation are
also ongoing, serious issues, with an estimated 60,000 children under age 18 involved in illegal
prostitution. Finally, there are 88,000 abandoned children in Thai hospitals, government shelters and
public places, while only 7% of abandoned children in shelters have found foster placement.
The most prevalent theme and most vulnerable group reflected in all these areas of childrens rights,
is children on the move, especially migrants, as well as marginalized groups, such as the poor, stateless,
and ethnic minorities. However, the overall lack of policy implementation and human resources at both

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national and local levels present a barrier towards achieving breakthroughs and immediate and lasting
change in these childrens lives. Currently, the Ministries of Health, Justice, Education, and Interior each
have their own child protection systems but the development of a holistic child protection system is far
behind most other systems in Thailand.

Political, Economic, Environmental, Social, Technological - analysis and trends


The political situation in Thailand remains unstable. In 2006, a military coup unseated the populist
government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Since then, periodic, politically motivated public
demonstrations and anti-government occupations have resulted in closed buildings and destruction, as
well as a fair number of casualties, particularly from 2010 to 2011. Underlying conflicts between political
parties, citizens, and government are still unresolved. The present Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra
(Thaksins sister), has concentrated her efforts on building and supporting the Thai economy by
introducing consumption-boosting government policies such as a minimum wage increase, tax cuts to
corporate and personal incomes, and investment in large long-term infrastructure projects. These
policies have helped raise the incomes of rural populations and promoted greater interest from foreign
investors.
People in Thailand have seen tremendous economic growth. The Thai stock market has become a prime
performer in Asia, and in April 2013, the World Bank predicted that the Thai economy would grow
another 5.3 percent from its 5 percent prediction last December. Hand-in-hand with the growing
economy, urbanization has been rapid as well as the escalation of internal and cross-border migration.
The employment level is high but labor shortage is a threat in the near future. Millions of migrant
workers reside in Thailand and contribute 11 billion dollars a year (6.2% of Thailands GDP).
Similar to the trend in other urbanizing countries, the use of social media has become widespread, in
addition to increased use and access to mobile services. As Facebook is now the most popular news
source, national news reports show the younger generation has a higher tendency to access news
through online sources, while people of working age and senior citizens continue to rely on newspapers
and public television. Overall, public TV is still the most popular source of news in Thailand.
Amidst these advances, persistent development challenges continue. Natural disasters, such as floods
and forest fires, are common and often require large-scale responses. The main areas of vulnerability
are the coastal areas as well as urban regions, like Bangkok. Forest fires contribute a threat towards
generating more pollution and smoke and there are reports that added pollution comes from
neighboring countries as well. Another rising issue is growing urbanization and the unplanned
movement of people. Especially after the Association of Southeast Asian Networks (ASEAN) community
integration in 2015, there will be an even greater flow of people in (primarily) and out of Thailand, which
may put further strain on public services and infrastructure such as water and sanitation. Climate
changes may also encourage populations to migrate from rural to urban areas and cross-country,
because farmers are unable to grow crops in some areas. In terms of equity, migrants and rural
communities in the far north and south of Thailand are most vulnerable and attain fewer rights, services,
and attention, socially, economically, and politically. Discrimination is still prominent at the local and
national level, especially towards ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees.

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5.

VIETNAM

Important contextual issues6


Vietnam has emerged as one of the most robust economies in the Asia Pacific region, with an average
annual GDP growth rate of 7.5% over the past five years. The country has exceeded its MDG target on
poverty alleviation, with a significant reduction of its official poverty rate from 58% in 1990 to 16% in
2008. According to UNDPs Human Development Report 2009, Vietnam ranked 116 out of 182
countries and achieved an HDI of 0.725 (in the same range as Bolivia and Uzbekistan). In its SocioEconomic Development Strategy, the Government of Vietnam set forth ambitious goals for continued
economic expansion with an expressed objective of becoming a middle income country.
By all accounts, Vietnam has made significant progress in most social development indicators and is on
track to meet most of its Millennium Development Goals. In addition, the government is quite optimistic
that Vietnam will graduate from being a developing country to a developed country by 2020. However,
while these national-level trends are encouraging, they mask acute social, ethnic, and regional
inequalities, especially for the most vulnerable sub-groups and the poorest of the poor. In particular,
some key issues will be critical for children and young people in the coming years:

The countrys 10 million ethnic minority peoples and those living in remote areas face the most
serious difficulties. Despite efforts by the government, 61% of the ethnic population still lives well
below the poverty line and the urban-rural health and wealth gap in general continues to widen.
Rapid economic growth has been accompanied by urbanization and labor migration, with
adolescents disproportionately represented among migrants. This phenomenon has led to increased
numbers of children and youth in need of special protection from economic exploitation,
drug/sexual abuse, and HIV/AIDS.
Global market instability, high inflation, and the overall increase in the cost of basic goods and
services are causing many families to fall back into economic hardship and insufficiency.
The country must grow at a rapid rate to absorb the huge number of young people joining the
workforce every year. 50% of the population is under 30 years of age, and 1 million young people
join the labor force annually. This represents a great demographic challenge for the government and
social organizations nationwide.
Global warming and the projected rise in sea level could result in the internal displacement of up to
22 million people from lowland and coastal areas in Vietnam by 2040. Frequent and severe natural
disasters have reversed the modest gains of many poor families in the worst hit regions in recent
years.

The Government of Vietnam has placed sustained economic development at the center of its 5-year
plans and has positioned itself to attract large-scale foreign investment and ODA. With Vietnams recent
entry into the WTO and greater commitment to regional and international integration, there is a
general receptiveness on the part of the government to external ideas and input regarding national plans
and priorities. Capacity at all levels is steadily improving, but district and local levels still face a lack of
financial and material resources, qualified human resources, and the need for more local control and
decision-making authority. With coordination between government, donors, UN agencies, and INGOs
vastly improving in recent years, Save the Children and peer organizations have been actively involved in

Lifted from Save the Children in Vietnam Country Strategy Plan 2010-2014

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advocacy, and these networks are well-positioned to influence the decision making process in the
coming years.
Key challenges identified by the Government and international donors regarding Vietnams development
include:
1. Nearly half of Vietnams 85 million people live on less than $2 a day, and 16 million people are
still living in poverty. There is also a growing health and wealth gap between urban-rural and
majority-minority populations.
2. Poverty is concentrated in remote rural areas and among ethnic minorities. Absolute levels of
inequality are increasingly visible. The most impoverished rural and ethnic minority communities
are from the following regions: northwest highlands (49%), north central coast (29%), and
central highlands (26%).
3. Persistent poverty needs more attention, as does the emerging issue of urban poverty.
4. A whole of government approach is required, with stronger cross-ministerial coordination
and leadership in areas, such as implementing the Governments WTO commitments, tackling
off-track MDGs, and protecting the environment.
Vietnam is also one of the countries most likely to be affected by the consequences of climate change.

Situational Analysis: Emerging trends in the situation of children in Vietnam7


Persistent issues in childrens health, especially newborn mortality: Impressive gains have been
made, and Vietnam is on target towards two-thirds reduction of child mortality by 2015. The
interventions now should be better targeted and based on more reliable data.

Maternal and neonatal mortality remains high, particularly in remote and minority communities
where home delivery without trained health staff is still commonly practiced. The difference
between the Kinh majority and ethnic minorities in terms of births attended by skilled attendants is
striking at 96% compared to 46%.
Longitudinal monitoring data on neonatal mortality is lacking, which prevents policy makers from
having a real picture and to focus interventions on the most vulnerable group newborns. Data on
child health status are underreported. Neonatal deaths reported from field studies are three times
higher than those from reports of government health system.
Vietnam has one of worlds highest abortion rates. Although there is no reliable data on abortion,
there is suggestion that gender selection is among the causes of abortions.
Chronic malnutrition is still prevalent at 30% nationally, and exceeding 50% in disadvantaged rural
communities.
Exclusive breastfeeding remains unacceptably low at 17%.
Low rate of exclusive breastfeeding, inappropriate infant and young child feeding practices, and poor
care practices (diarrhoea, pneumonia etc.) are the primary causes of high stunting rate among
children under five.
Access to safe water and sanitation is still low at 61% of the total population and at only 31% in
Mekong Delta. The difference in access between the richest and the poorest households is 96%
compared to 12%.

Lifted from Save the Children in Vietnam Country Strategy Plan 2010-2014

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Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

Gaps in ensuring universal primary education: Vietnams official gross enrolment rate in primary
education is 95%. The trend towards full achievement of universal primary education is within reach by
2015. However, there remains apparently intractable issues of quality (e.g., lack of trained teachers and
teaching materials), access (e.g., for girls and children with disabilities) and coverage (e.g., for ethnic
minority children in rural and remote communities).

Only 57% of children under age 5 attend pre-school, and the difference between rural (51%) and
urban (74.7 %) is significant. According to local NGOs, such low rate is influenced by a shortage of
school and educational facilities, especially in rural areas and the perception of parents on the
importance of pre-school education.
Ethnic minority children in rural/remote/mountainous areas lack access to quality education.
However, there is also a lack of reliable official statistics to plan for responsive interventions.
The school drop out ratio presents a real challenge. A striking 70% of all school drop-outs are girls.
Nearly one in three children drops out of school after completing the 5th grade.
Approximately 1.15 million children with disabilities face huge difficulties in accessing education, 33%
of whom are illiterate.
The Education for All Action Plan (2003-2015) aims at universal secondary education and pre-school
enrolment rate of 75% by 2010, the governments budget for education, however, is decreasing to
60% by 2010, and not commensurate with the levels of investment required to achieve quality
education for all.

Growing HIV/AIDS epidemic: According to Government reports, up to 130,000 Vietnamese people


are living with HIV, although other sources estimate this number to be closer to 293,000. Signs of
generalization of HIV/AIDS epidemic are becoming more evident, with a prevalence of over 1% in large
cities. The target is to roll back the spread and halve the rate of increase by 2015. However, most
prevention policies remain at the central level and the programs stay at small-scale. These need to reach
more people, especially the most vulnerable youth. The number of children affected by HIV and AIDS
who need support to stay in schools and to access services (including care, treatment, and social welfare
grants) is increasing.

Approximately 3,818 children are reported to be living with HIV/AIDS, according to Government
sources. This actual number is expected to be even higher.
Stigma and discrimination against people who are most likely to become infected or who have
families who are affected- further marginalizes and prevents people from accessing services and
social support. This in turn influences the low coverage of prevention from mother to child
transmission, HIV counselling and testing, and care and support, as well as reasons why marginalized
groups (such as intravenous drugs users and men having sex with men) do not practice preventive
behaviours.

Increasing vulnerability to abuse, neglect and exploitation: The protection of children from
trafficking and exploitation is a primary concern of Vietnamese society today. Childrens right to
protection is far from fully ensured, despite Governments efforts to harmonise the CRC requirements
and laws in Vietnam. The obstacles include: 1) Inadequate data collection, weak implementation and
monitoring of central policies, and a lack of law enforcement and 2) Gaps in legal framework on child
protection and poor communication and training on related laws and policies for stakeholders. The
number of children who need protection in Vietnam is increasing:

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Compilation of Child Rights Situation Analysis from Save the Children

About 2.6 million children are in need of special protection;8 60% of the children report having
experienced violence at home or at school; and 23,000 children are estimated to be exploited for
labour.
Children in conflict with the law do not receive proper legal assistance and diversion is not
sufficiently utilised as an alternative to court proceedings.
Half of the current migrants are assessed to be less than 25 years of age; however, those under 15
are not required to register with local authorities so no accurate data is available.
Migrant children are technically excluded from services they are entitled to, like education and
health, as enrolment must be based on household registration and birth certificate.

150,514 orphans, 1.2 million of children with disabilities, 16,000 street children, 8,500 HIV+, 283,667children affected by AIDS, 1.2 million
children living in poverty, 23,000 child laborers, 8,500 children using drugs, 15,000 institutionalized children, and 14,000 children in conflict with
the law.

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