Child Poverty in Venezuela
Poverty in Venezuela has reached a historic high during the current crisis. Researchers from one of Venezuela’s top universities found this year that about 96% of the population lives in poverty, while 70% live in extreme poverty.  This makes Venezuela the poorest country in the region. With a vast majority of the country living below the poverty line, child poverty in Venezuela is a growing concern.

Child Poverty in Venezuela

Children are often the most vulnerable to poverty. The extent of child poverty cannot be measured through family income alone; the entire context of their living conditions must be evaluated. UNICEF has developed a tool to assess more accurately how children are impacted in settings of poverty through a process called Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA).

MODA has a defined list of indicators that researchers use to evaluate child poverty in each country. Indicators change based on which are the most relevant to that particular country. Indicator categories include water, sanitation, housing, nutrition, education, child labor and more.

The challenge with analyzing the full extent of child poverty in Venezuela is the lack of reliable information available to researchers. The Maduro regime has continuously hidden figures from international databases to hide the full extent of the Venezuelan crisis. Nevertheless, researchers are examining child poverty with the broad indicators of the MODA tool. Besides low income, hyperinflation and national shortages of foods and products, water and power are two of the main factors causing multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Water

Venezuelans have suffered shrinking access to water. According to a study by nonprofit Venezuelan Observatory of Public Services, 86% of Venezuelans do not have reliable access to water. The same study found that 11% do not have access to a water service at all.

In addition to being crucial for adequate hydration, water is also essential for sanitation. Without access to running water, personal hygiene and health suffer. In 2020, water became even more important to protect from COVID-19. Using the MODA tool, not having access to showers/baths, a protected water source, or a place for handwashing are indications of multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Power

Power outages are becoming more common in Venezuela due to the ongoing crisis. Gas-powered backup generators are available for those who can afford them; for those who cannot, wood and charcoal become imperative for cooking and heating.

Without power, there is also no internet. The internet has been particularly important in 2020, as many children are now attending school online. A lack of access to power has thus affected children’s ability to attend school, furthering the education gap between the rich and the poor. According to MODA, a lack of access to electricity and the internet are indicators of multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Save the Children

In response to the situation, there are many groups looking to help Venezuelan children. The nonprofit Save the Children is one of these groups. In its mission, the organization recognizes the need for clean water, personal safety and access to education.

While the nonprofit does not have access to Venezuela, they have set up centers in Colombia and Peru for families that have been forced to migrate. Entrance into Venezuela remains difficult, as its leader, Nicholas Maduro, is against humanitarian aid. In an attempt to help Venezuelans in need, humanitarian organizations were leaving relief trucks on the Venezuelan-Colombian border, but Maduro rejected this help.

Moving Forward

Whether or not international humanitarian organizations will be able to effectively address child hunger within Venezuela in the coming years remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the existence of such programs is paramount to those Venezuelans seeking relief from the oppressive conditions in the crisis. And, until the government situation changes, programs like Save the Children may be the only way to help ease child poverty in Venezuela.

Luis Gonzalez Kompalic
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Lebanon
Conflict has impacted Lebanon over the past few decades, including civil war, revolution and occupation. As a result, many children in Lebanon grow up and live in harsh conditions. Here are five things to know about child poverty in Lebanon.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Lebanon

  1. Poverty by the Numbers: There is severe inequality in Lebanon as 5-10% of the population receives more than half of the total national income. Around 25-30% of Lebanese people live in poverty. Refugees and other populations face an even higher rate of poverty. For all of these groups, families with children are more likely to live in poverty. Current estimates say 1.4 million children in Lebanon are living in poverty. This affects their ability to receive an education, adequate nutrition and water and future standard of living and employment.
  2. Education: An estimated 10% of children in Lebanon do not attend school. The schools that do exist are low quality in both education and the physical state of the buildings. The poor education in Lebanon causes less young people to acquire jobs in technical or competitive fields. Armed and violent conflicts in Lebanon have also damaged school buildings. Furthermore, children’s access to education is hindered by the 1925 Nationality Law, in which only children with Lebanese fathers receive citizenship. If a child’s only parent is their mother or the father is not Lebanese, public schools will not admit them until all other Lebanese children are enrolled.
  3. Child Labor: Lebanon has lower rates of child labor than many of the surrounding countries, but still 7% of children work. Many of these children work to support their families, though their salaries are often low. Boys often work in factories or agriculture which have inhumane and very harsh working conditions. Lebanon has signed on to the ILO’s Convention on Child Labor, but this has not decreased child labor.
  4. Refugee Children: Lebanon has a very high number of refugees living inside its borders because of its geographical location. These refugees come from Iraq, Syrian, Palestine and more. The majority of refugees live in extreme poverty. Refugee children often work in poor conditions to make money. Many also suffer from mental health problems due to their trauma. In refugee camps, children face many dangers, including domestic violence, drug use and minimal health care and basic hygiene. Lebanon has not ratified the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and does little to protect these people living inside the country. The country also lacks the resources to address children’s mental health problems, but NGOs are working to provide more medical help inside the refugee camps.
  5. Reducing Child Poverty: The Government of Lebanon launched the National Poverty Targeting Program in 2011. The World Bank provided technical and financial assistance to this program to provide a safety net for families living in extreme poverty. Families are chosen based on level of food security, labor force status and other variables. This program currently helps 43,000 households, although more than 150,000 families are in extreme poverty and more than 350,000 qualify are in poverty. The families benefiting from the program receive a “Hayat Card,” which gives them access to free health care and educational services, and the poorest receive a debit card for food.

Children in Lebanon are still heavily affected by poverty, whether it is through health care, education or labor. Refugee children and girls are particularly vulnerable as they lack basic rights under law. Although strides have been made in recent years to eradicate poverty, the government and other organizations must prioritize addressing child poverty in Lebanon.

Claire Brady
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty In Honduras
Honduras, a country home to nine million people, is crippled by poverty, gang violence and a lack of education. Roughly 60% of the population of Honduras lives below the poverty line. The country is also known for having one of the highest crime and violence rates of all time. In terms of child poverty in Honduras, poverty impacts children in multiple ways, including health, safety and education. Nearly 75% of children use outdoor bathroom systems or open fields and 69% of 9-10 year-olds are infected with parasites because of this. Furthermore, 23% of Honduran children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. This article will explore the consequences of child poverty as well as efforts to address it.

Children and Gang Violence

Children face many dangers from exposure to gangs and gang violence in Honduras. Many children are too afraid to go to school because of the prevalence of gang members on the streets. A report from the Norweigan Refugee Council highlights the risks that Honduran children face, including pressure, sexual harassment and abuse.

Gang members have also successfully infiltrated Honduran schools and now promote the distribution of drugs to minors and attempt to recruit them. Families are also faced with pressure from gangs, often in the form of war taxes, which prohibits their ability to buy school supplies and uniforms.

Children and Education

The Honduran government provides free schooling until the sixth grade. However, when children in Honduras graduate from the sixth grade, many of them stop their education to support their families. After receiving a partial education, boys will often go to work in the fields while girls will stay at home to care for their families until marrying around the ages of 12-14 years old.

The lack of education in Honduras increases involvement in gangs, drugs and other dangerous behaviors in order to survive and to support their families. One organization working to alleviate this problem is the Honduras Good Works Secondary Education Scholarship Fund. This fund provides school supplies, transportation and school uniforms to children in Honduras.

Changing the Future for the Children

Children International, an NGO aimed at protecting and aiding children, works to address many of the issues facing Honduran children. Among their current projects is the distribution of annual parasite treatments and workshops about hygiene, the Sport Development and Youth Leadership Training program to alleviate pressures of gang violence and the Youth Health Corps that ensures equal rights for girls and boys. Children International has five centers on the ground in Honduras and focuses on combatting child poverty in Honduras.

Save The Children is another organization working to better the futures of children in Honduras. With the support of generous donations, this organization was able to aid 141,000 children in Honduras just last year, and more specifically have raised 36,000 children from poverty. Save The Children is currently working to promote food security for families in coffee-producing areas, addressing causes of migration and training government officials on the prevention of trafficking.

Moving Forward

Child poverty in Honduras continues to impact millions of children across the country. Fortunately, organizations like Children International and Save The Children are stepping in to help. Moving forward, it is essential that these efforts and others continue to prioritize alleviating child poverty and ensuring better livelihoods for children in Honduras.

Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Children in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso, a small, landlocked country in Western Africa, is one of the least developed countries in the world. About 45% of the over 20 million who live in the nation face poverty. Nearly 2.2 million people live in dire need of aid, with children half of those in need. This crisis has only worsened due to the ongoing conflicts in the Sahel region of Western Africa, which have displaced millions of Burkinabé people and put them at a higher risk of poverty.

Children in Burkina Faso, who make up 45% of the population, face more challenges than nearly any other group of children on Earth — many of them have low access to nutrition, education, and healthcare, and are often subjected to child labor and marriage.

Hunger and Malnutrition

While Burkina Faso has always struggled with hunger, with 25% of children stunted from malnutrition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The number of people in need of food aid has tripled to 3.2 million, and many of those suffering from malnutrition are children. Doctors and nurses in Burkina Faso are reporting extremely high numbers of malnourished children entering their healthcare facilities each day. Prior to the pandemic, Burkinabé children experienced hunger as a result of displacement from the conflicts in Africa’s Sahel region.

Education

While attending primary school is compulsory for children in Burkina Faso between the ages of seven and fourteen, this rule is not enforced, and about 36% of children do not attend. Additionally, 67% of girls over the age of fifteen do not know how to read or write. The high levels of poverty in the country lead to low levels of education. Furthermore, the conflicts in the area have only made it harder for children to access and attend their schools. Attackers have raided the schools, injuring teachers and putting Burkinabé children at risk.

Healthcare

Burkina Faso has the tenth-highest under-five mortality rate in the world, with 87.5 out of every 1,000 children in 2019 dying before their fifth birthday. About 54 infants die for every 1,000 live births . That majority of these deaths are from communicable diseases and malaria, which the nation has struggled to prevent and control. While the number of healthcare workers in the area has increased in the past few decades, particularly between 2006 and 2010, it has not been quite enough to combat the need of the ever-growing population, and many children in the area are left without healthcare access.

Child Marriage

Over half of Burkinabé children are married before their eighteenth birthday, and the country has the fifth highest rate of child marriage in the world. One in ten girls under nineteen have already given birth to at least one child. Girls with limited access to education have a higher chance of marrying as children. The same holds true for girls who live in impoverished households. Both of these trends remain common in Burkina Faso. The apparent social value ascribed to girls in the region is considered lower than their male counterparts. As a result, young girls who enter child marriages often do not have a choice in their future husbands.

Child Labor

42% of children in Burkina Faso are engaged in child labor rather than attending school. Though the government adopted a “National Strategy to End the Worst Forms of Child Labor” and raised the legal minimum working age to sixteen, these high rates of child labor have not decreased significantly over the past few years. These children work as cotton harvesters, miners of gold and granite, domestic workers, and in some rare cases, sex workers. Child labor puts children at risk of serious injury, and, in some extreme cases, even death.

While children in Burkina Faso face all of these challenges, work is being done to help them live safe, healthy and educated lives. Save the Children, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger and Girls Not Brides are just a handful of the organizations working in Burkina Faso to ensure that these children receive the care they need and deserve. Childhood in this region is, in fact, difficult. Yet, all is not lost as these groups work to improve the lives of children across Burkina Faso.

Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in India
Millions of Indian children live in extreme poverty, putting their lives, as well as the development of their bodies and minds, at risk. Global efforts have made significant progress towards combating child poverty in India, and further funding will allow this success to continue.

An Overview of Poverty in India

India is one of the most populated countries in the world, with a population of 1.366 billion. Second only to China, with a population of 1.398 billion (a mere 2.3% greater), India alone accounts for more than 17% of the world’s population. With a population of such magnitude, there are not enough resources to go around.

India has historically struggled with poverty, with 63.1% of its population living on less than $1.90 a day in 1977. Since then, this number has diminished drastically to 22.5% in 2011 – but this still indicates that an astounding 296 million people are living in extreme global poverty.

Children in India feel the burden of extreme poverty the most. They are the most likely to be impoverished and to lose their lives due to poverty. Global efforts have made a substantial amount of progress in fighting child poverty, but it is still nowhere near eradicated. Here are six crucial facts about child poverty in India.

6 Facts About Child Poverty in India

  1. India accounts for 30% of all children living in extreme global poverty. South Asia accounts for 36% of children in extreme poverty, but India alone covers almost all of this. India is home to the greatest number of impoverished children on Earth.
  2. Children are more likely to live in extreme poverty than adults. A recent study conducted by the World Bank Group and UNICEF, titled “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children,” found that children are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty. Despite making up only a third of the studied population, children accounted for half of the extremely poor. Children are roughly 50% more likely to live in extreme global poverty than adults.
  3. Children are also most damaged by the effects of living in extreme poverty. The development of the body and mind is stunted when a child is deprived of basic needs. Children in extreme poverty generally lack more resources than others in extreme poverty as well, a deadly combination. As UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake puts it, “They are the worst off of the worst off.”
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged millions more Indian children into poverty. Globally, 150 million additional children have been pushed into poverty since the start of the pandemic. Since India accounts for 30% of children in extreme global poverty, this means that as many as (or even greater than) 45 million more children in India have been impoverished in the last several months.
  5. The United States government is fighting child poverty in India. The United States Agency for International Development has made it a priority to fight child malnourishment and death in India. In the last 30 years, USAID funding has helped save the lives of more than 2 million Indian children by providing resources for extremely impoverished children.
  6. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) around the world are saving the lives of Indian children as well. Save the Children, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme child poverty across the globe, is one organization that has prevented poverty-related death for children in India. Thanks to their efforts in providing resources to India’s poor, they have lifted more than 86,000 children from poverty.

While extreme child poverty in India continues to cost Indian children their lives every day, the situation is improving significantly thanks to these global efforts. In order to continue these efforts and eradicate child poverty from India, further funding for poverty-fighting programs, both current and new, will be necessary.

Asa Scott 
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty Rates in the U.K.Approximately 4.2 million children live in poverty in the U.K. based on the latest data from the Child Poverty Action Group. As unemployment rates rose amid COVID-19, several organizations focusing on child poverty have campaigned to continue several relief programs as solutions to U.K. child poverty levels. One form of child poverty relief comes from the universal credit program. This U.K. initiative gives eligible families an extra £281.25 per month for their first child up until the age of 3 and an extra £235.83 per month for a second child or a child aged 3 to 19 in school. Universal credit also includes the recently increased £409.89 monthly payment for individuals over 25 in 2020.

England

The Director of Policy, Rights and Advocacy at the charity organization Child Action Poverty Group, Louisa McGeehan found that nearly 30% of children are living in poverty across the entire U.K. McGeehan advised The Borgen Project that child poverty rate in the U.K. “varies, some areas have very low levels of poverty while some areas are extremely high.” McGeehan and other child poverty charity organizations have found that the increase in unemployment, business closures and limited benefits for select low-income families have resulted in higher U.K. child poverty rates that have not been published yet. McGeehan advised The Borgen Project that in London, “there was another announcement today to try to prop up incomes, so we don’t know the final numbers, but we think we are going to be at levels of unemployment that we haven’t seen since the late 80s or early 90s.”

London had a 37% child poverty rate prior to COVID-19 according to the Child Poverty Action Group. With this information, the Child Poverty Action Group continues to research and campaign for various U.K. child poverty-related preventative actions. The poverty rate attributions are considered to be high housing costs, lack of full-time work and high childcare costs. McGeehan told The Borgen Project that the two-child policy states that “if a family has more than two children, they can’t receive any extra money for any subsequent children which is directly discriminatory to the children.” McGeehan and the Child Poverty Action Group have campaigned to abolish the two-child policy, keep up the free school meals program during school closures and to continue the additional £20 weekly payment that the U.K. Universal Credit system has included for families and individuals since April 2020.

Scotland

Scotland has been focusing on child poverty as the Scotland Child Poverty Act of 2017 provided the targets necessary to reduce child poverty rates. Based on the last reported data set in 2019, the child poverty rate in Scotland is 24% with 230,000 children living in poverty. One child poverty solution introduced in late 2019 is the “Poverty Alliance’s Get Heard Scotland initiative,” which gives the people of Scotland an opportunity to voice their concerns about the various causes of poverty in Scotland. The CPAG has worked to help children in low-income levels through the CPAG’s Early Warning System and discussions with the Scotland government. McGeehan advised The Borgen Project that “my colleagues in Scotland are having different kinds of conversations with a similar lead, so they have managed to work with the government to introduce a new child payment, which will improve life up there.”

Wales

Currently, Wales has a child poverty rate of 28%. To assist in tackling the consequences of child poverty, the Bevan Foundation helps come up with policy ideas for government approval, which has led to an extension in the free school meals project during school closures through an equivalent cash payment to parents in Wales. Bevan Foundation Policy and Research Officer, Dr. Steffan Evans explained that the Welsh government has been active as it relates to the COVID-19 response for low-income families. Evans told The Borgen Project that “the Welsh government has significantly increased the number of emergency payments to families who were struggling and they have also given some funds to provide 4G enabled laptops to families who have not got internet access at home so they can do their learning.” Still, Evans notes that “we are expecting to see poverty rates increase in the next few rounds of data as we deal with fallout [from the COVID-19 impact].”

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland estimates that 107,200 children or 24% of the child population were living in poverty as of the last reported data set in March 2019. Before the pandemic, Northern Ireland enacted child poverty-related policies including the Child Poverty Strategy from the Northern Ireland Executive, which has been active since 2016 with one report per year. The aim of the strategy was to reduce child poverty in Northern Ireland through increasing employment rates and improving lower-cost housing while keeping children healthy in school. Northern Ireland has also enacted a cash distribution plan to keep up the free school meal plan that approximately 97,000 children used.

Final Thoughts

With increasing unemployment and poverty rates due to the pandemic, the U.K. government and several child poverty charity organizations have supported and discussed similar child poverty solutions. These policies are considered to act as solutions to U.K. child poverty levels by U.K. researchers as the additional £20 weekly universal credit payment is set to continue until April 2021.

– Evan Winslow
Photo: Flickr