One in six children living in extreme poverty rising during pandemic

“Global Estimate of Children in Monetary Poverty: An Update, notes that sub-Saharan Africa, with its limited social safety nets, accounts for two-thirds of children living in households that struggle to survive on an average of $1.90 a day or less per person – the international measure for extreme poverty, while South Asia accounts for nearly a fifth of these children. 

The analysis shows that the number living in extreme poverty decreased moderately, by 29 million, between 2013 and 2017. However, UNICEF and the World Bank Group warn that any progress made in recent years, has been “slow-paced, unequally distributed, and at risk” due to the economic impact of the pandemic.  

Struggling for survival 

“One in six children living in extreme poverty is one in six children struggling to survive”, said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF Director of Programmes. 

“These numbers alone should shock anyone. And the scale and depth of what we know about the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic, are only set to make matters far worse. Governments urgently need a children’s recovery plan to prevent countless more children and their families from reaching levels of poverty unseen for many, many years.” 

Although children make up around a third of the global population, around half of the extreme poor are children. Furthermore, they are more than twice as likely to be extremely poor as adults. 

The youngest children are the worst off – nearly 20 per cent of all of them below the age of 5 in the developing world, live in extremely poor households, the report highlights.  

“The fact that one in six children were living in extreme poverty and that 50 per cent of the global extreme poor were children, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, is of grave concern to us all,” said Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Global Director of Poverty and Equity for the World Bank. “

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