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Coronavirus pushes 150 million more children into poverty

Alex Berry
September 17, 2020

The world's poorest children are getting even poorer, according to UNICEF and Save the Children. And they warn that the situation could get a lot worse in the coming months.

A child seeks shelter from the rain wrapped in a blanket, under the Ayrton Senna Viaduct in Manaus
Image: Getty Images/R.Alves

The coronavirus crisis has plunged 150 million more children into poverty according to an analysis published by UNICEF and Save The Children on Thursday.

The number of children living in poverty in low and middle-income countries increased by 15% to 1.2 billion during the corona pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures. 

The report calculated this number based on several deprivation indicators such as access to education, healthcare and housing.

Read more: Rich countries often fail to ensure children's well-being, UN report suggests 

How does the coronavirus affect children?

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director, explained the importance of the report's results saying, "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 concerningly, we are closer to the beginning of this crisis than its end," she added.

Read more: How coronavirus is affecting underprivileged children in India

What needs to be done to alleviate the problem?

The report urged governments to take action in order to lift these children out of poverty. The authors recommend interventions and investments in areas such as social services, labor markets and remote education.

"Governments must 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," Fore implored.

"Making these critical investments now can help countries to prepare for future shocks."

The report emphasized the need to understand deprivation beyond simple financial indicators, although these play a big role. It stresses the importance of implementing "multi-sectoral policies addressing health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation and housing deprivations."

"This pandemic has already caused the biggest global education emergency in history, and the increase in poverty will make it very hard for the most vulnerable children and their families to make up for the loss", said Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children. 

"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," she warned.

dpa contributed to this report

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