Report finds 78 percent of indigenous children living in poverty

A report presented by UNICEF and the national statistics and technology institute, INEI, has found that in Peru 78 percent of indigenous children between the ages of three and 17  live in poverty, compared to 40 percent for children whose first language is Spanish, state news agency Andina reported.

“The inequality is greatest among ethnic groups in the jungle where almost half the children [49%] live in conditions of extreme poverty,” said Martin Benavides, the executive director of research center Grade, which wrote the report.

According to the report, presented on the World’s Indigenous People Day, there are four million indigenous people in Peru, of whom one million are children or adolescents. Most indigenous children live in Peru’s poorest departments, including Huancavelica, Apurimac, Ayacucho and Puno.

Also, 40 percent of indigenous children in Peru do not have access to potable water and 20 percent lack access to drainage systems.

In terms of education, 32 percent of children from 3-5 years old go to education centers, compared to 55 percent for non-indigenous children.

Ninety percent of all indigenous children from 6-11 years old go to school, but that statistic falls to 77 percent among Ashaninka children and 76% for those from other communities in the jungle.

Only one-fourth of Ashaninka children from 3-5 years old have a birth certificate and 35 percent of those from 18-20 years old have the National Identity Document (DNI).

In contrast with the extreme poverty situation, health care shows improvement. The report found that among indigenous peoples, a greater percentage of indigenous children who speak Quechua and the Amazonian languages have insurance, compared with those who speak Aymara and Spanish.  Seventy-nine percent of indigenous children from 3-5 years old are covered by some form of health insurance, compared to 60% among non-indigenous children.

Despite this number, there are problems with regards to the lack of health professionals working in regions with large indigenous populations.

The report, financed by the Canadian government,  included input from indigenous organizations such as the Inter-ethnic Development of the Peruvian Jungle association, Aidesep, and worked with census results from 2007 and surveys carried out in schools and homes in 2008 and 2009.

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