It’s not the end, it’s the beginning Pandemic pushes 150M more, into Poverty

Hina Khan Palwasha

According to an analysis published by UNICEF and Save the Children on Thursday, the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown measures have pushed 150 million more children into poverty.

“Most concerning, we are closer to the beginning of this crisis than its end.” said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore in a press release. “Families on the cusp of escaping poverty have been pulled back in, while others are experiencing levels of deprivation they have never seen before,” Fore added.

Warning about the fact that world’s poorest children are getting poorer, the report notes that the situation is likely deteriorate further in the coming months. According to the report, which analyzed the data about provision of education, medicine, housing, food, sanitation and water in more than 70 countries, since the start of the outbreak, around 1.2 billion children are pushed towards a deprived life in low and middle-income nations. Before the pandemic, the average number of severe deprivations per child was around 0.7. It is now estimated to have increased by 15 per cent to around 0.85.

The report emphasized that unlike other types, child poverty has many other aspects. It shouldn’t be thought of just in monetary terms. In fact, monetary indicators of poverty partially represent the plight of children living in poverty. Directly analyzation of all possible deprivation is necessary to fully understand the extent of child poverty.

The report highlighted the factors like inclusive fiscal policies, investment in social services, social protection and labor market interventions to support families that are essential to lift children out of poverty and play a significant role in preventing further destruction.

Access to quality health care, providing children with the tools and technologies necessary for continuing education remotely and investing in family-friendly policies such as paid leave and child care are indispensable elements, the report said.

Meanwhile, the agencies are calling on governments to rapidly expand social protection systems, access to health care and remote learning opportunities. “The shocking poverty impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic will hit children hard. Children are highly vulnerable to even short periods of hunger and malnutrition-potentially affecting them for their whole life. If we act now and decisively, we can prevent and contain the pandemic threat facing the poorest countries and some of the most vulnerable children. This report should be a wake-up call for the world. Poverty is not inevitable for children,” said Save the Children International CEO, Inger Ashing.

“Children who lose out on education are more likely to be forced into child labor or early marriage and be trapped in a cycle of poverty for years to come,” Ashing said.

“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,” Ashing said. “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.”

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