Indicators of Child Deprivation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Levels and Trends from the Demographic and Health Surveys

Feb 26, 2014 | Measure DHS

Access to basic human needs is essential to the development of children’s full potential. This comparative report focuses on deprivation of basic human needs among children in sub-Saharan Africa. It examines disparities and illustrates changes in the prevalence of African children’s exposure to deprivation. The data come from DHS surveys conducted in 30 countries between 2000 and 2011.

This report covers deprivation in five areas: food, health, water and sanitation, shelter, and education. It reports on indicators of deprivation among all children in these countries and in trends in these indicators. In addition, this report examines whether, and how much, the prevalence of deprivation in each country differs by the sex of the child, rural or urban residence, the sex of the head of the household in which the child lives, and the age of the head of the household (<50 years old versus age 50 and older). Knowing of these differences may help policymakers to focus strategies for improvements.

Key Findings

Over the past 13 years, a number of countries have made substantial progress in reducing the prevalence of deprivation in particular areas. Others have suffered setbacks. Knowing of these differences may help policymakers to focus strategies for improvements.

Trends

Food:

  • Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Rwanda made the greatest progress in reducing stunting—by nearly eight percentage points or more.
  • In Benin and Senegal the situation worsened.

Health:

  • Many countries substantially decreased the percentage of children with no immunizations—Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and Uganda by over 30 percentage points.
  • In contrast, the percentage in Zambia increased comparably.
  • Burkina Faso, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, and Rwanda all decreased, by close to 20 percentage points or more, the percentage of children not receiving medical advice when they had diarrhea.

Water:

  • Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, and Malawi decreased the percentage of children using ground water by more than five percentage points.
  • In contrast, the percentage using ground water increased by nearly 29 percentage points in Ethiopia, and increases also were large in Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
  • Senegal decreased by over 28 percentage points the percentage of children living more than a 15-minute walk from their water source.
  • Lesotho, Mali, and Nigeria made improvements of about 15 to 19 percentage points.

Sanitation:

  • Ethiopia decreased the percentage of children with no access to sanitation facilities by nearly 25 percentage points.

Shelter:

  • In Mozambique the percentage of children living in homes with mud floors decreased by more than 15 percentage points.
  • The percentage of children in homes with electricity increased by about 10 to 12 percentage points in Ghana, Mozambique, and Senegal.

Education:

  • Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Zambia decreased the percentage not in school by 15 to almost 19 percentage points.
  • Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and Zambia reduced their school drop-out rates among children age 13 to 17 by at least six percentage points.