This corresponds to an increase of 15 percent.
Particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, many children are at risk of slipping into even more poverty as a result of the Corona pandemic. © Rajan Zaveri / Save the Children
Failure to quickly protect families from economic risks would mean a total of 672 million children in low- and middle-income countries living below the national poverty line by year's end. Around two-thirds of the children affected live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Europe could see a rise in child poverty. Central Asia to be hardest hit – at up to 44 percent. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the increase is expected to be 22 percent.
The shocking increase in poverty from the Covid 19 pandemic will hit children particularly hard. Children who suffer hunger and malnutrition, no matter how short the period, can suffer permanent damage. If we act quickly and decisively now, we can prevent and alleviate the threat posed by the pandemic to the poorest countries and the most disadvantaged children. These findings should be a wake-up call to the world. Child poverty is preventable.
Save the Children and UNICEF warn of two impacts of the looming global economic crisis. On the one hand, the families' own room for maneuver is severely limited due to the sudden loss of income. They can barely afford basic food and clean water, are less likely to have access to healthcare or educational opportunities, and are at higher risk of child marriage, violence, exploitation, and abuse. On the other hand, social services that families rely on may be curtailed due to lack of tax revenue.
Protection from Corona hardly possible
Lack of access to social services or compensatory financial assistance makes it particularly difficult for the families most affected by poverty to comply with protective measures and protect themselves from infection.
Situation already critical before pandemic
Even before the pandemic, two-thirds of the world's children had no access to social security. Their families face little financial hardship. Can quickly fall into an intergenerational cycle of poverty. In Africa, only 16 percent of children have access to social protection. For children living in countries already affected by conflict and violence, the multifaceted consequences of the Covid 19 pandemic exacerbate the risk of social instability and poverty. In the Middle East and North Africa, more children suffer the consequences of crises and conflicts than in any other region. Youth unemployment is highest here. Almost half of the children live in poverty.
Save the Children and UNICEF call on governments to rapidly and comprehensively expand social protection systems and programs to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on children in low-income households.
– Cash transfers – school meals – child support
These are all important measures to mitigate acute financial hardship as well as to ensure in the long run that especially poor families are better prepared for future crises. In addition, governments should invest in other social protection measures, as well as tax, employment and labor market policies that support families. This includes expanding comprehensive access to quality health care and other essential services, as well as investing in family-friendly policies such as paid leave and child care.