86-M kids worldwide ravaged by pandemic — UNICEF and Save the Children

  • UNICEF and Save the Children report that up to 86 million more children will be pushed into poverty in low and middle-income countries, including the Philippines, as parents and guardians lose their jobs and sources of income due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Up to 86 million more children will be pushed into poverty in low and middle-income countries, including the Philippines, as parents and guardians lose their jobs and sources of income due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was reflected in a joint analysis conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children which showed that the number of children living in poor households across developing and emerging countries could increase by 15%, and estimated to reach 672 million by the end of 2020.

In a statement on 29 June 2020, both the UNICEF and Save the Children warned that the immediate loss of income means families are less able to afford the basics, including food and water, less likely to access health care or education, and more at risk of child marriage, violence, exploitation and abuse.

Save the Children International CEO Inger Ashing said the shocking poverty impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will hit children hard, adding that “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 COVID-19 pandemic threat. This report should be a wake-up call for the world. Poverty is not inevitable for children,” Ashing said.

For her part, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said the scale and depth of financial hardship among families threatens to roll back years of progress in reducing child poverty and to leave children deprived of essential services.

“Without concerted action, families barely getting by could be pushed into poverty, and the poorest families could face levels of deprivation that have not been seen for decades,” she said.

They also cited in the analysis that the poorest families have high exposure to COVID-19 due to their lack of access to social care services or compensatory measures that further limits their ability to abide by containment and infection mitigation measures such as physical distancing.

Meanwhile, lawyer Alberto Muyot, CEO of Save the Children-Philippines, said children experience poverty differently compared to adults as it impacts their health and survival, learning and development due to neglect, and exposure to risks including hazardous work and being lured to sexual abuse and exploitation.

“Poverty for children means enduring pain, stigma, shame, and loss of self-esteem thereby attracting ridicule or insult and causing deep psychological impact to young minds,” Muyot said.

In 2017, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) already identified that children belong to the poorest basic sector, next to farmers and fisherfolk.

In a separate study by the World Bank showed that most of the children who are undernourished belong to farming and fishing communities. While poverty incidence for children is at 31.4 percent at the national level, it said, “poverty is even worse in the conflict-affected provinces of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) at 63 percent.”

Furthermore, the pandemic’s impact is worse among children whose families rely on the informal economy but could not recover since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) like the public utility drivers, vendors, etc.

The impact of the pandemic would likewise take a heavy toll on children of the 300,000 displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as well as of the 5 to 10 million workers at home who stand to lose jobs by the end of 2020, as reported by the government.

UN entities involved in this initiative
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund