The Facts don’t Figure. An Appropriate Rant

Pay attention

Hear ye, Hear ye. Hear ye.

Do you suppose that anyone out there knows the true figure for child labour? The figures given by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are just too precise to be credible, especially when you consider that there is such a variance between the different bodies, e.g. UN, Charities, ILO, and UNICEF etc.

If we look at the totals given for child labour worldwide we have ILO at 217.7m, UNICEF at 246 m and at 220m. At first glance they may seem close enough but,but,but the difference between the ILO and UNICEF is 28.3m. That is 28.3 million kids! Are they out there? It all seems more like guess work on the part of the agencies.

heavy duty

Who’s building our future?

Looking at another example concerning India, (See, India: An Indictment) the UN suggests that 55m child workers exist in India. While UNICEF put the number at 28m and the State Ministry, (India) give a figure of 5m. To some extent one can understand the Indian number as the government is probably in denial and don’t want to highlight the penury of these kids. It may also be the case that the Indian number is for one state only. As for the two main agencies there is no excuse, a 27 million difference is too hard to swallow.

The figures given create an image that the character of the statistical compilers leaves much to be desired. We need a proper compendium based on an on-site evaluation. Otherwise, the figures get to the point of absurdity! What is more galling is that WE are paying for this hotchpotch statistical analysis. How much donated funds are being used (wasted) on compiling the data?

Moreover, we are talking about so-called reputable organisations that we are invited to trust as custodians of an intellectual approach to getting at the truth. Of identifying the global figures and the root causes of a given event, so that appropriate action can be taken. Codswallop!

They tweak the figures to suit their own interpretation, to conform to the message that they wish to convey. They are happy to use a variety of ‘adjectives’ to camouflage their statements, either to downplay or overplay the figures to their advantage, for example: ‘dire’, ‘extreme’, ‘abject’, ‘chronic’, and ‘severe’. The decision is then to decide what constitutes ‘dire’ as opposed to ‘extreme’ and then give their set of figures as a direct interpretation of the situation. Intentional ‘fibs’ may not be the case here but they should be had up before an ethics court.

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”  George Bernard Shaw, The Devil’s Disciple.

An example from Nepal (see Nepal: Beauty and the Beast) makes the picture clearer. A guardian newspaper blog, quoting World Bank figures suggests a big drop in ‘extreme’ poverty down to 25%, but, say that 50% live below the recommended $1.25 a day. It’s 40% in ‘abject’ poverty from UNICEF and 33% from the CIA.

How can they dish out the aid money when they don’t have any definitive numbers? I am not calling them stupid; they have supplied sufficient evidence to condemn themselves! Who has got it right? Who has it all wrong? Who or what are we supposed to believe? Is it simply a ploy to stand out from the crowd? Petulance?  Is it to highlight their independence from the hoi polloi, or to gain attention for their particular project? Could it be more sinister, in that the smaller the figure the less contribution they have to make to the donor pot? Or simply to suggest that things are not as bad as we thought?

It raises a serious question as to how funds are allocated. Do the donor nations and the NGOs base their spending on a percentage of the population designated as in need? If the numbers are suspect; how can they meet the peoples need?


Oops, I’ve been caught!

Why are there no definitive numbers? Answers on a postcard, please.

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