The novel coronavirus pandemic has pushed 150 million children into multidimensional poverty, a report by the United Nations (UN), has said.
The study published on the UN’s website said these children have been deprived of education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water.
The report found that the number of children living in poverty increased to nearly 1.2 billion, a 15 per cent jump since the pandemic hit earlier this year, according to a technical note on impact of COVID-19 on child poverty, issued on Thursday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the NGO, Save the Children.
As if the situation is not bad enough, 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’s executive director. According to her, 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.
She therefore called for a 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”, she added.
The report stated that around 45 per cent of children were “severely deprived” of at least one of the critical needs in the countries analyzed before the pandemic.
The study is based on data on access to education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sanitation and water from more than 70 countries.
It said child poverty was much more than a monetary value, and while measures of monetary poverty such as household income were important, they provided only a partial view of the plight of children living in poverty.
The Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Inger Ashing, notes that the pandemic had already caused the biggest global education emergency in history.
She warned that an increase in poverty would make it very hard for the most vulnerable children and their families to make up for the loss.
“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.”