The number of children in poor households may increase by 86 million due to the coronavirus

28 Mayo 2020
Economic Affairs

If urgent action is not taken to protect families facing financial straits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of children living below the national poverty line in low- and middle-income countries could reach 672 million at the end of the year.

According to a new analysis published this Thursday by UNICEF and the NGO Save the Children, 86 million children will join the ranks of poverty due to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The countries of Europe and Central Asia could register the most significant increase, which could reach up to 44% throughout the region. In Latin America and the Caribbean there could be an increase of 22%.

The total number of children living below the national poverty line in low- and middle-income countries could reach 672 million by the end of the year.

Of that number, almost two-thirds of those children will live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an unprecedented socioeconomic crisis which is depleting the resources of families around the world ”, said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

Save the Children and UNICEF warn that the impact of the global economic crisis caused by the pandemic and related austerity policies is twofold. The immediate loss of income means that families are less able to pay for their basic needs, including food and water, less likely to access health care or education, and more risk of child marriage, violence, exploitation and abuse. When a budget decline occurs, the scope and quality of services these families depend on can also decrease.

In addition, they warn that, in the case of the poorest families, the lack of access to social care services or compensatory measures further limits their ability to respect measures of restraint and physical distancing and, therefore, As a result, your exposure to infection further increases.

Social protection programs must be expanded

Fore highlighted that “the magnitude and severity of the financial difficulties of families threaten to set back years of progress in reducing child poverty and deprive children of essential services. Without concerted action, struggling families could be pushed into poverty, and the poorest families could face levels of deprivation that have not been seen in decades. “

In the case of children living in countries that are already affected by conflict and violence, the effects of this crisis will further increase the risk of instability and of households falling into poverty, both agencies warned.

In order to address and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on children from poor households, Save the Children and UNICEF call for a rapid and large-scale expansion of social protection systems and programsincluding cash transfers, school feeding and child benefits, all of which are critical investments that address immediate financial needs and lay the foundation for countries to prepare for future crises.

Governments should also invest in supporting families through other forms of social protection, tax policies, employment and interventions in the labor market. This includes expanding universal coverage to quality health care and other services; and investing in family policies, such as paid vacations and childcare.

Some of the countries in Latin America that increased social protection since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis were:

  • Argentina, where the universal child allowance program provided an increase of 3,100 pesos (US $ 47) to its current beneficiaries
  • Colombia, where the Government created the Solidarity Income Program that provides cash transfers to households that currently do not receive benefits from any other National Government program. As of May 21, more than two million vulnerable families had received a transfer of 320,000 pesos (equivalent to US $ 81) through two payments made during March and May
  • Peru, where the Government delivered a solidarity bonus to rural households, independent workers and vulnerable families, as well as a new universal bonus, for 6.8 million households. Special attention needs to be paid to people living in remote areas, indigenous populations and migrants

28 Mayo 2020
Economic Affairs

If urgent action is not taken to protect families facing financial straits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of children living below the national poverty line in low- and middle-income countries could reach 672 million at the end of the year.

According to a new analysis published this Thursday by UNICEF and the NGO Save the Children, 86 million children will join the ranks of poverty due to the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The countries of Europe and Central Asia could register the most significant increase, which could reach up to 44% throughout the region. In Latin America and the Caribbean there could be an increase of 22%.

The total number of children living below the national poverty line in low- and middle-income countries could reach 672 million by the end of the year.

Of that number, almost two-thirds of those children will live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

“The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an unprecedented socioeconomic crisis which is depleting the resources of families around the world ”, said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

Save the Children and UNICEF warn that the impact of the global economic crisis caused by the pandemic and related austerity policies is twofold. The immediate loss of income means that families are less able to pay for their basic needs, including food and water, less likely to access health care or education, and more risk of child marriage, violence, exploitation and abuse. When a budget decline occurs, the scope and quality of services these families depend on can also decrease.

In addition, they warn that, in the case of the poorest families, the lack of access to social care services or compensatory measures further limits their ability to respect measures of restraint and physical distancing and, therefore, As a result, your exposure to infection further increases.

Social protection programs must be expanded

Fore highlighted that “the magnitude and severity of the financial difficulties of families threaten to set back years of progress in reducing child poverty and deprive children of essential services. Without concerted action, struggling families could be pushed into poverty, and the poorest families could face levels of deprivation that have not been seen in decades. “

In the case of children living in countries that are already affected by conflict and violence, the effects of this crisis will further increase the risk of instability and of households falling into poverty, both agencies warned.

In order to address and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on children from poor households, Save the Children and UNICEF call for a rapid and large-scale expansion of social protection systems and programsincluding cash transfers, school feeding and child benefits, all of which are critical investments that address immediate financial needs and lay the foundation for countries to prepare for future crises.

Governments should also invest in supporting families through other forms of social protection, tax policies, employment and interventions in the labor market. This includes expanding universal coverage to quality health care and other services; and investing in family policies, such as paid vacations and childcare.

Some of the countries in Latin America that increased social protection since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis were:

  • Argentina, where the universal child allowance program provided an increase of 3,100 pesos (US $ 47) to its current beneficiaries
  • Colombia, where the Government created the Solidarity Income Program that provides cash transfers to households that currently do not receive benefits from any other National Government program. As of May 21, more than two million vulnerable families had received a transfer of 320,000 pesos (equivalent to US $ 81) through two payments made during March and May
  • Peru, where the Government delivered a solidarity bonus to rural households, independent workers and vulnerable families, as well as a new universal bonus, for 6.8 million households. Special attention needs to be paid to people living in remote areas, indigenous populations and migrants