By Collins Orono
New analysis by UNICEF and Save the Children on the the Impacts of COVID-19 on Child Poverty shows a dire situation facing millions of children globally.
The report published on September 17, 2020 reveals the number of children living without access to health, education, nutrition, housing, sanitation and water has risen to approximately 1.2 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a 15 per cent increase in the number of children living in low- and middle-income countries, or an additional 150 million children since the pandemic hit earlier this year. Although the analysis paints a dire picture already, UNICEF warns the situation will likely worsen in the months to come.
“COVID-19 and the lockdown measures imposed to prevent its spread have pushed millions of children deeper into poverty,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Families on the cusp of escaping poverty have been pulled back in, while others are experiencing levels of deprivation they have never seen before. Most concerning, we are closer to the beginning of this crisis than its end.”
The report notes that child poverty is much more than economic value. Although measures of monetary poverty such as household income are important, they provide only a partial view of the plight of children living in poverty citing the need to implement multi-sectoral policies addressing health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation and housing deprivations to end multidimensional poverty.
“Children who lose out on education are more likely to be forced into child labour or early marriage and be trapped in a cycle of poverty for years to come. We cannot afford to let a whole generation of children become victims of this pandemic. National governments and the international community must step up to soften the blow.” said Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children.
More children are experiencing poverty than before, the poorest children are getting poorer as well, the report notes.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore urged governments to prioritize the most marginalized children and their families through rapid expansion of social protection systems including cash transfers and child benefits, remote learning opportunities, healthcare services and school feeding.
“Making these critical investments now can help countries to prepare for future shocks.” Said Fore
The multidimensional poverty analysis uses data on access to education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sanitation and water from more than 70 countries. It highlights that around 45 per cent of children were severely deprived of at least one of these critical needs in the countries analyzed before the pandemic.
With over 18 Million children’s education already affected in Kenya, a survey conducted by Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development found that at least three in ten of Kenya’s students are not able to access remote lessons, at times because their homes lack simple equipment like a radio. Access to basic services such as health and food remain a huge challenge in many families in Kenya as households lose jobs due to Covid19 pandemic.