Here are the 5 best countries in Africa for children

In recent decades, African countries have made real progress in improving the lives of children.

Happy school children

Save the Children, a human rights organization, has revealed the best and worst countries for children.

According to the Global Childhood Report 2019, the best countries are the ones that have managed to reduced damaging factors like child labour, teen pregnancy and access to education.

Overall, the report found that circumstances for children have improved in 173 out of 176 countries since 2000.

The poorest nations in the world had some of the biggest improvements showing that "poverty does not have to be a barrier to progress, and political choices can matter more than national wealth."

Here are the five African countries that have made the most progress in improving children's well-being since 2000:

  • Sierra Leone

This West African nation has achieved the most progress, 246-point increase going from 345 to 591. Child marriage is down nearly 60 per cent. Under-5 mortality has been cut by more than half (53 per cent). Child labour is down by at least 40 per cent. Fewer children are stunted and there are fewer teen births (down by about 30 per cent).

Child homicide declined 20 per cent. The biggest improvement is the reduction in the number of families affected by conflict. In 2000, 1 in every 5 people in Sierra Leone had been forcibly displaced from home. Today, that figure is 1 in 700 - a 99 per cent reduction.

  • Rwanda

Rwanda rose 241 points, from 503 to 744 this year. Under-5 mortality is down 79 per cent. The out-of-school rate and child marriage rate are both down by 60 per cent. Child labour, adolescent births and child homicides have all been cut in half.

  • Ethiopia 

Ethiopia increased its score by 237 points, rising from 414 to 651. This is due to improvements in child survival and education. The country also made reductions in malnutrition and child marriage have also been important.

Child mortality, children out of school and child marriage have all been cut by about half or more. The adolescent birth rate is down 41 per cent, stunting is down 33 per cent, and child homicide is down 30 per cent.

  • Niger

Next is Niger rising from 167 to 402 points. This is a major improvement for the country that was the lowest-ranked on the index in 2017 and 2018. The rate of children dying before their fifth birthday had dropped by 62 per cent - that's 44,000 fewer child deaths each year. School enrollment rates have increased from 19 to 48 per cent and child homicide is down 36 per cent. 

  • Burkina Faso 

This country achieved a 220-increase, from 345 to 565, by improving child survival and school enrollment. 

Other highlights from the report:

  • Angola scored 581 point, which is a 212 increase from 2000.
  • Zambia's score is up 201 points, from 422 to 623, due mainly to improvements in child survival. 
  • Liberia is up 182 points, from 417 to 599, due to 60 per cent fewer deaths under age 5. 
  • Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique and Uganda all increased their scores by about 160 points or more. Improvements in children's health and survival were the main drivers of progress in these countries as well. 
  • Uganda significantly cut teen births.
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