Children InternationalThe poverty disparity between adults and children is ever-growing. Children are twice as likely to live in poverty in comparison to adults, according to UNICEF. Globally, one billion children live in multidimensional poverty and approximately 365 million live in extreme poverty. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has pulled 150 million more children, including some from the wealthiest countries, into poverty. For this reason, the work of nonprofits addressing child poverty, such as Children International, is especially urgent.

Children International

Children International, a nonprofit that has worked to end poverty for nearly 80 years, is renowned for its transparency. Its website displays the many tangible positive changes the organization has brought about for children living in poverty. Children International believes addressing the needs of children is the way to end global poverty. Through its unique child sponsorship program, a person from anywhere in the world can fund the health, educational, security and nutritional needs of a child.

Through its Employment Program, Empowerment Program and various health and education programs, Children International works to end global child poverty through sustainable short-term and long-term approaches. These include providing basic health and dental services, boosting children’s confidence and creating post-graduation employment opportunities.

Safe Community Centers

Children International has also created more than 67 community centers to ensure that children can grow in secure and safe environments. Holistic child care in these safe spaces addresses the nutritional, educational and physical needs of children up to age 20. Children International believes that safe spaces and programs tailored to the unique needs of each child will ultimately end global poverty.

Nuanced Attention to Every Child

Children International’s customized programs focus on the individual needs of each child. The child sponsorship program enables donors to choose a child to sponsor, then give directly to that child’s specific needs. This “contextualization” ensures that both “a 6-year-old in Zambia” and “a 14-year-old in Honduras” have their particular needs met. The child sponsorship program focuses on the nuanced needs of every child by truly listening to the children themselves and allocating the necessary resources to lift them out of poverty.

Children International’s customized programs ensure that children are educated, healthy, employed and empowered as they transition into adulthood. The education program also provides children with shoes, books, uniforms, tutoring and scholarships and builds community centers with computers and other useful resources. Nearly 88% of children engaged in tutoring programs from Children International have improved profoundly in reading, writing and math and 71% of those involved in the Employment Program have found employment.

Ending Global Child Poverty

Success stories from four continents illuminate the astounding work of Children International, which has helped more than one million children. Children International is working to end global child poverty and has already taken off immensely in its success.

Nora Zaim-Sassi
Photo: Flickr

education for street kids in AfghanistanThe issue of providing quality education to children in Afghanistan persists. According to UNICEF, approximately 3.7 million children in Afghanistan are not in school, including more than two million girls. Afghan children face several barriers to education. These include “a shortage of schools and insufficient transportation” as well as a scarcity of qualified teachers. Only 48% of teachers possess the “minimum academic qualifications” to teach. For girls specifically, continued antiquated cultural practices, including child marriage in impoverished areas, continues to serve as a significant hurdle. Securing education for children in Afghanistan is important since education is a proven tool for breaking cycles of poverty. Furthermore, providing education for street kids in Afghanistan is especially important because these children are more vulnerable to the impacts of poverty.

The Plight of Street Children in Afghanistan

The term “street children” refers to children who live and/or work on the streets. In Afghanistan, the number of street kids is rising steadily, with at least 50,000 in the capital of Kabul. Endemic poverty and parental deaths caused by decades of war have forced many children into labor. Some of these children are as young as 3 years old. According to Mahboba’s Promise, an Australian aid organization, street children earn an average of less than $2 a day through menial jobs including collecting garbage and polishing shoes. These meager wages are barely enough to survive on. As such, working on the streets has become synonymous with malnutrition, illnesses and even sexual assault. Ensuring access to education for street kids in Afghanistan is paramount if Afghan children are to break free of cycles of abuse and poverty.

Organizations Providing Education for Street Kids in Afghanistan

While the current status of education in the country and the plight of its street kids is lamentable, the work of several organizations on the ground in providing an education for street kids in Afghanistan suggests that not all hope is lost.

  1. Mahboba’s Promise. Founded by Mahboba Rawi, an Afghan refugee, this organization is committed to rehabilitating street kids in Kabul by placing them in “safe houses.” The safe houses provide the children with well-balanced meals and teach fundamental subjects such as English, math and Islamic studies. Partnering with Architects Without Frontiers, Mahboba’s Promise successfully opened the Hope House in 2007. The Hope House is a shelter for women and children living in poverty that comes fully equipped for educational and recreational facilities while serving as an oasis of safety away from the turbulent streets of Kabul.
  2. Aschiana. Engineer Mohammed Yousef founded Aschiana in 1995. He was spurred to action after witnessing the harsh living and working conditions of street kids in Kabul. At its Day-Care Center, Aschiana provides basic education and vocational training for women and children while offering art-based therapy to help children who may have been traumatized by war, among other initiatives. Aschiana also organizes “mobile library units” to improve literacy and arranges legal aid for children charged with crimes. Today, Aschiana operates in seven provinces in Afghanistan and has impacted the lives of more than 150,000 women and children.
  3. The Noor Foundation. Founder Noor Ramazan was once an Afghan street kid himself. However, he broke free from his family’s cycle of poverty and became a successful businessman. He opened a tour guide service, Let’s Be Friends Afghanistan, in 2015. Recognizing the importance of providing an education for street kids in Afghanistan, Ramazan founded The Noor Foundation early in 2021 with the hope of saving street kids in Mazar-i-Sharif from the fate he managed to escape. At present, Ramazan is concurrently working on two projects. The first, Noor’s Nest, will be a shelter for about 30 street kids. It will have comfortable lodging facilities and staff to support the children’s educational and extracurricular endeavors in a “family-type setting.” The other project, The Noor School, will accommodate up to 200 children. Street kids will receive free tuition and priority access. Ramazan intends to start constructing the school by 2022 and has obtained financial support from 264 Education, a German NGO that reached out to Ramazan after hearing about his aspirations through the popular YouTube channel, Yes Theory.

Looking Ahead

Both local and international organizations have managed to make inroads concerning education in Afghanistan. However, the ongoing withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country threatens to undermine current and future progress. As the Taliban expands control of the country due to the power vacuum created by the United States, the future of education for Afghan children, especially girls, remains precarious. Without the continued provision of education for street kids in Afghanistan, there is a high risk of child recruitment by the Taliban. In a land rife with volatility and instability, prioritizing the education of children is imperative to equip Afghan children with the knowledge and tools to create a better and brighter future.

Vyas Nageswaran
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty In SyriaFor the past decade, Syria has been the center of a brutal civil war. As a result, millions of Syrians face the everyday threats of violence, hunger and disease that wartime poverty brings about. Those most vulnerable to the effects of poverty include Syria’s children. A closer look at child poverty in Syria provides insight into the lives of Syrian children.

10 Facts About Child Poverty in Syria

  1. Roughly six million Syrian children rely on humanitarian assistance. Syrian children are among the most vulnerable groups in the Syrian civil war. The war has affected more than 11.1 million Syrians, almost half of whom are children.
  2. Children are unable to attend school. The civil war greatly fuels child poverty in Syria. As parents struggle to afford to send their children to school, many teachers are unpaid and destitute school buildings are collapsing. Nearly 2.5 million Syrian children are unable to attend school. This number does not include the 750,000 displaced Syrian children in nearby countries who also have no access to education. According to World Vision, the Syrian conflict has “reversed two decades of educational progress.”
  3. More than half of all Syrian children suffer from hunger. An estimated 60% of the nation’s children are suffering from hunger and 28% endure stunting as a consequence of malnutrition. The percentage of Syrian people suffering from food insecurity is currently the highest it has ever been since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. With 6.2 million children currently living in hunger, the numbers are only rising, having increased by roughly 35% from November 2020 to February 2021.
  4. Child labor is increasing. Faced with the threat of extreme child poverty in Syria, many school-aged boys drop out of school to support their families. These boys regularly work in unsafe situations for little pay. The research study “Survey on Child Labour in Agriculture in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon: The Case of Syrian Refugees” provides statistics on Syrian child labor. The 2019 study concluded that about 70% of Syrian refugee “children between 4 and 18 years old” were employed, “with an average age of 12.9 years.” Additionally, about 75% of these children worked in the agricultural sector. In this sector, about 30% of working children have experienced injuries.
  5. Boys are targets for child soldiers. As boys drop out of school to support their families, they are at higher risk of being recruited as child soldiers. With no income to provide for their children, many families resort to sending their young boys for training as child soldiers, believing that it is the best option. In 2021 alone, almost 840 children were recruited as child soldiers, among other roles, with 797 of these children being boys.
  6. Child marriage is rampant. Many families resort to child marriage to solve their economic situations. Sexual abuse of young girls also runs rampant in crowded refugee camps. Desperate to save their daughters from “child trafficking and sexual exploitation” and unable to economically provide for their children, many families arrange marriages for teenage girls. Out of girls aged 15-19, about 3.8% give birth every year.
  7. Weather has significant impacts. Millions of displaced and homeless children in Northwest Syria face brutal winters. Their only shelter from the harsh cold is often a tent or severely damaged and unsafe buildings that serve as emergency shelters. Roughly 75% of all Syrian children killed in 2020 came from this part of the country.
  8. COVID-19 exacerbates poverty: The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated child poverty in Syria. In addition to the 11.1 million Syrians already in need of urgent humanitarian aid, an additional 1.1 million Syrians have found themselves in poverty as a consequence of the pandemic. COVID-19 has also caused the gross domestic product to fall by up to 15% in the nation’s nearby countries, meaning that Syrian refugees seeking refuge in neighboring countries have fallen further into poverty.
  9. Infrastructure is failing. Only 53% of hospitals are currently in service, greatly adding to child poverty in Syria. Since the start of the war, more than 25,000 children have been killed, a number that is only increasing due to limited healthcare services and lack of access to clean water.
  10. Children are vulnerable to diseases. Poor sanitation caused by a lack of infrastructure, resources and clean water makes Syrian children vulnerable to cholera and other diarrheal diseases. The lack of accessible healthcare means many children miss their regular health checkups. Extremely cold weather in the northwest part of Syria also makes children susceptible to pneumonia.

Addressing Child Poverty in Syria

To address the issue of child poverty in Syria, UNICEF has sent humanitarian assistance on the ground. UNICEF’s efforts focus on children’s education, health and sanitation, among other goals. In 2020 alone, UNICEF “screened 2.6 million Syrian children and women for acute malnutrition,” improved water services for 3.2 million people and vaccinated roughly 2.6 million children against polio. UNICEF also “supported 2.2 million children with education services in formal settings.”

While the conflict in Syria continues, vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected. The efforts of UNICEF ensure the protection and well-being of millions of Syrian children, reducing child poverty in Syria.

– Caroline Bersch
Photo: Unsplash

Child Poverty in FijiFiji is an archipelago or chain of islands. Many tourists worldwide know its remote beaches as a tropical paradise. While Fiji’s geography makes it a popular vacation spot for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Tony Hawk, its geography has adverse effects on the children living there. However, organizations are taking steps to combat child poverty in Fiji.

Child Poverty in Fiji

Child poverty in Fiji is widespread throughout its rural areas. The United Nations released a report that displays rural child poverty rates at 40.92%, almost double urban rates of 22.22%. The extent of the discrepancy between those living in rural and urban areas is clear. There is a similar difference in the ages of those experiencing poverty in Fiji. The United Nations report highlights that 32.1% of children younger than the age of 14 experience poverty.

Poverty in Fiji has an unparalleled effect on young children in rural areas. This has led to a stunting rate tallied at 7.5% among infants and young children in 2004. Infants and young children are not the only ones affected by malnourishment as 22% of adolescents in Fiji were underweight as of 2005.

The Effects of Geography on Child Poverty in Fiji

In Fiji, there is a clear connection between poverty, geography and education. Fiji’s remote location impacts the price of uniforms, books and transportation. Although education is free up to the second level, the secondary costs of education present additional barriers for children living in poverty.

Even if rural Fijian families scrape together money for their children’s education, underdeveloped road and sea transportation prevent easy accessibility. Children often have to travel through three or more towns on foot to reach the nearest school.

Furthermore, children do not receive consistent protection against violations and abuse. Many children work as domestic servants and face domestic or sexual violence. Authorities underreport these conditions, and oftentimes, local authorities dismiss the crimes with little supervision from the country’s federal policing system.

Solutions to Child Poverty in Fiji

Many efforts are in place to help combat child poverty in Fiji. Several Fijian children in poverty reside in rural areas where the lack of access to quality education perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Understanding this issue, the Australian High Commissioner administered the Australian Direct Aid Program. The program seeks to help improve educational opportunities for these children. This project gifts items like new furniture, library books, water tanks and dormitory renovations that provide better education resources to students in rural Fiji.

Similarly, help from volunteer groups such as the Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross and student initiatives, such as Rustic Pathways, greatly impacts these Fijian communities. For example, the Peace Corps states that close to 90% of the communities improved in livelihood security and sanitation.

Another significant step in combating child poverty in Fiji occurred when Fiji joined the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership. The partnership made access to clean water a constitutional right. This led to 70.1% of Fijian households having access to clean water. Increased access to clean water means children can go to school and receive an education instead of spending time collecting water for the home.

Moreover, the World Bank has approved the Fiji Transport Infrastructure Investment Project. It awarded the Fijian government $50 million to make improvements to land and sea infrastructure. The expected outcome is easier and safer travel, which in turn, allows children facing poverty in rural areas of Fiji better access to education.

The Future of Poverty in Fiji

Fiji’s geography negatively influences impoverished children within its borders. Through improvements to the education system, increased sanitation, access to clean water and better infrastructure, children facing poverty in Fiji have a greater opportunity to attend and complete school. Through education, children are able to break cycles of poverty.

– Lily Vassalo
Photo: Flickr

Children In Tanzania In 2016, estimates determined that three out of every four children in Tanzania experience poverty or are underprivileged. This means that most children in Tanzania do not experience high-quality living conditions. For example, children in Tanzania frequently lack access to healthcare, education and basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. They may also experience domestic violence.

Of adolescents, the age group hit the hardest are those aged 5-13. In this age group, 73% of children experience deprivation in three or more dimensions. Dimensions are categories that classify different types of poverty. These dimensions are sanitation, protection, housing and education. Poor access to sanitation affects this age group the most (77%) followed by limited protection, housing and education, all lying in the high 60% range.

The Future Stars Academy (FSA)

Future Stars Academy (FSA) is a nonprofit organization that began in 2009 and works out of Arusha, Tanzania. In 2019, the organization had 200 members and saw its members’ school attendance increase by 15%. FSA prioritizes education with the understanding that education is a way out of poverty.

FSA makes an impact by combining a passion for sports with a strict education policy. Education is one of the most important factors in ending global poverty. Education leads to outcomes that positively impact poverty. Some of these outcomes include economic growth, lower income inequality, reduced infant and maternal deaths, decreased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and reduced violence at home and in society.

Many people all over the world support and participate in soccer, sometimes referred to as football. For FSA, soccer is a way for underprivileged children to develop mentally and physically, giving them the opportunity to live sustainable and healthy lives. The organization believes that soccer can inspire underprivileged children and help them develop into productive citizens with the opportunity to escape poverty. The organization focuses on three core activities: training, education and competition. It works with children aged 6-20, targeting the age group hit hardest by child poverty.

FSA gives youth the opportunity to refine their soccer skills and compete competitively at a certain level. This gives children something to strive for and encourages healthy lifestyles in order for participants to succeed in the sport. Coaches at FSA use the children’s passion for soccer to hone in on other important life skills and values such as teamwork, dedication, discipline and confidence.

FSA’s Success

For FSA, the combination of fun and education has, so far, been successful. The policy of “No school – No play” keeps children in Tanzania on track to progressing toward a better life. The FSA has provided dozens of senior players with the opportunity to play for top tier soccer teams or earn coaching positions where they then have the ability to help children in similar situations.

Education is an extremely important tool for reducing rates of poverty in Tanzania. Many organizations, such as UNICEF, believe that instilling education at a young age is the most effective way for it to be a tool in helping underprivileged children escape poverty. FSA is one of many organizations working to promote the importance of education for children in Tanzania.

– Haleigh Kierman
Photo: Flickr

SPOON, Helping Children With Feeding DifficultiesApproximately 93 million children worldwide have been diagnosed with a disability. A total of 80% of these children have problems with feeding processes. Children with disabilities often suffer from medical conditions like anemia and, along with children who do not receive nutrition through a caregiver, are among the groups that are most likely to be malnourished. However, two women from Portland, Oregon, founded the nonprofit organization SPOON to address children’s malnutrition.

Providing Nutritional Assistance for Children Worldwide

SPOON was founded in 2007 when Cindy Kaplan and Mishelle Rudzinski adopted two children from Kazakhstan who were diagnosed with severe malnutrition. They created SPOON to ensure that all children across the globe receive nourishment. SPOON aims to provide help for caregivers through nutrition programs and assessing the needs of children with feeding difficulties. As the most important part of their mission, the organization puts a special focus on nutrition support for children who do not have a family to care for them or those with a disability.

Helping Children With Feeding Difficulties

Children diagnosed with a disability are three times as likely to suffer from undernourishment than those without any disabilities. Furthermore, one of SPOON’s studies showed that approximately 91% of children in institutions and without family care do not receive the nutrition they need.

Carolyn Moore, the Policy and Advocacy Advisor for SPOON, told The Borgen Project that the two groups often overlap since “institutionalization and separation are more common for children with disabilities.” Moore further explained that the lack of training regarding children with special needs is a significant contributor to feeding difficulties and nutritional health conditions.

The population of children in need of the help SPOON has to offer is immense. Approximately 250 million children who live in developing countries are at immediate risk of stunting. Additionally, 53 million under the age of 5 received diagnoses with cognitive delays, reduced motor skills and other disabilities.

According to Moore, there are additional tens of millions of children who live “in institutions or … on the streets.” One of the main challenges in making sure that all children receive the nutrition they need is that caregivers often do not understand the importance of finding the right feeding process. This is especially important since nutrition is the main contributor to ensure a child’s health. It also affects the development of their brain and body.

Teaching People Important Feeding Skills

SPOON operates with several different methods. The first step of its work includes helping local partners and caregivers of children with disabilities. This is “to build their skills in the specific nutrition eating needs and techniques.” The initial training period covers many different aspects, including learning how to improve feeding techniques, correctly assessing the specific problems a child is facing and adapting diets and nutrition accordingly to individual needs.

Another part of SPOON’s work is the organization’s mobile app called Count Me In. The tool assesses the growth and problems of children with feeding difficulties, especially those with disabilities and in institutions. The app is then able to offer appropriate solutions to caregivers. Moore explained that Count Me In “can recommend improvements around positioning and texture” of the food. It is also a very efficient way for the organization to collect valuable data. By 2019, many orphanages in countries such as Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia have used Count Me In.

Advocacy and the Global Child Thrive Act

The third important component of SPOON’s work is advocacy. Moore explains the need for children with disabilities worldwide to have access to nutrition and support with their feeding difficulties. She emphasizes the need for nonprofit organizations to look at how to “change policies and change systems” permanently. For example, SPOON was part of the Thrive Coalition, a group of nonprofit organizations that advocated for the Global Child Thrive Act, which was passed into law in January of 2021.

The coalition continuously met with congress and the media. This resulted in more than 100 Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate co-sponsoring the bill. The Global Child Thrive Act assures that the United States government will contribute to strengthening early childhood development. This is for 250 million children under 5 in low-to-middle-income countries. According to Moore, the act was especially important to SPOON, since it specifically included support for “children with disabilities or without family care.”

Helping Children All Across the Globe

In addition to helping with the passage of the Thrive Act, SPOON has seen many successes throughout the years. After working in countries like Vietnam, China and India for two years, the rate of stunting in the children decreased from 55% to 23% and the percentage of children with anemia went down from 41% to 13%. Furthermore, SPOON’s advocacy efforts significantly contributed to a policy change in Kazakhstan that resulted in better nutrition for children without family care.

Also, data collected through Count Me In in 2020 showed a 35% improvement in the growth of kids and found that 82% of caregivers had adjusted feeding positions according to the children’s needs. Another 2020 success was the development of the SPOON chair. The chair will help children with disabilities by allowing them to sit upright during the feeding process.

Partnering With Other Organizations to Help Children

SPOON has also seen much success through collaborations with local partners. In Zambia, SPOON worked together with CMMB, a nonprofit organization that aims to help children with diseases by improving their nutrition. Together, the two organizations were in charge of the Improving Nutrition and Safe Feeding Practices project. This project specifically focused on children with disabilities and without family care.

Moore explained that SPOON and CMMB provided “specialized training in the nutrition and feeding issues” that are common for the two groups of children. The project worked with nutritionists and clinicians who had no prior experience in this specific field. Data pulled from Count Me In in Zambia from 225 surveyed children shows that between the years 2017 and 2020, the feeding positions improved in more than half of all cases for children with disabilities. There was a reduction in malnutrition for every child that was evaluated more than once through the application.

SPOON’s work has significantly contributed to improving the health and lives of many children with feeding difficulties. SPOON has displayed solutions for helping disadvantaged children and has revealed the need for further organizations to join their cause. Moore noted with the “big shift in food insecurity,” due to COVID-19, SPOON’s work is incredibly vital.

– Bianca Adelman
Photo: With permission from Carolyn Moore

Child Poverty in Egypt
Egypt attracts visitors from all around the world to observe marvelous monuments such as the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. However, behind the magnificence of its tourist attractions lies a country in distress. It has a rank of 13th in terms of global population, with births occurring every 15 seconds. The growing population is causing a scarcity of resources, leaving nearly 27.8% of Egyptians to live in extreme poverty. Poverty especially poses a threat to the quality of life for Egyptian children by denying them opportunities to be successful. Here are some of the factors contributing to child poverty in Egypt.

Lack of Education

Egypt’s Ministry of Education reported that thousands of children dropped out of school in 2016 and 2017 due to the inability to pay fees for food, transportation and clothing. Roughly 600,000 of the children who dropped out of school in 2017 were girls. In previous decades, Egyptians highly undervalued education for girls due to ideas of traditional gender roles. However, a study in Egypt found that girls usually begin taking on household duties around the age of 10, allowing them more opportunities to attend primary school. The need for children to help bring in extra income causes many poor families to turn to child labor. This makes school attendance even less a priority.

Child Labor

Agriculture makes up nearly 55% of Upper Egypt’s labor force. Additionally, almost 80% of the population in Upper Egypt lives below the poverty line. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) reported that 53.2% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 work in Egypt’s agricultural sector. Children provide a cheaper source of labor to help manage family-owned farms. Cairo Hospital’s Dr. Ahmed Fathy explained, “For poorer families, it’s not about whether a child is a gift from God, but rather [that] extra children are a method of income.”

Malnutrition

Malnutrition plays a prominent role in child poverty in Egypt. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) defines malnutrition as a lack of access to a healthy diet in poverty-stricken communities and a lack of nutritional knowledge that promotes healthy dietary habits and lifestyles. Children under the age of 5 suffer most from undernourishment at 35%. Foods high in sugar account for nearly one-third of an Egyptian infant’s diet. Meanwhile, roughly 50% of children under the age of 2 are not receiving vital nutrients such as iron through their diet.

Social Programs and Government Policies on Child Poverty

From 2014-2018, the European Union (E.U.) invested $65 million to launch the Enhancing Access of Children to Education and Fighting Child Labor social program. The program improved food security for approximately 100,000 Egyptian children. It also provided financial aid to almost 400,000 low-income families, reducing the need for child labor and encouraging school attendance.

The Egyptian government is hopeful that it will eliminate hazardous forms of child labor by 2025. Government officials enacted the National Plan of Action Against the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Supporting Families policy in 2017 to boost child labor laws and develop the educational system. The policy also delegates specific government agencies to enforce existing child labor laws.

Looking Towards the Future

Egyptian children living in poverty endure numerous hardships that affect their quality of life, such as lack of education, child labor and malnutrition. These barriers leave them unprepared to successfully transition to adulthood. The Egyptian government is taking steps to eliminate child poverty by passing laws and implementing programs that prioritize children’s issues. Hopefully, one day, child poverty in Egypt will no longer exist.

Tiara Tyson
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty Rates in New Zealand
New Zealand is an island nation in Oceania that, according to the United Nations Happiness Index, boasts a reputation as one of the world’s happiest countries. The government currently holds especially high esteem in the international community, credited for an exceptional job in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, beyond these glowing numbers is an escalating crisis: child poverty. Child poverty rates in New Zealand highlight disparities that have otherwise been overlooked.

New Zealand’s Poverty Rates

New findings released by Statistics NZ and the Salvation Army’s State of Nation show gaping disparities among children facing poverty. 19% of Māori and 25.4% of Pasifika children live without all of the basic household needs, compared to the state standard rate of 11%. The issue of indigenous inequality is nothing new. Māori and Pasifika populations have faced historically disproportionate challenges that impact their quality of life.

Child poverty rates in New Zealand were identified as a policy target for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s administration back in 2018. Until the pandemic hit, the government was making progress in accomplishing the Child Poverty Reduction Act. This was a three-year plan to reduce the rate to 10%. However, the plan was disrupted once COVID-19 became a widespread issue. There is now a data gap, as the collected numbers are only updated as far as March 2020. As New Zealand has managed to control the spread of COVID-19, it is important that Arden and her administration shift its focus to supporting Māori and Pasifika populations who have fallen behind.

How to Close the Gap

Until 2018, there had been both a lack of incentive to collect demographically based data and a caliber for poverty calculation. Now, a census team conducts household economic surveys to calculate the disposable income of each home. The government must prioritize diversifying its numbers to show an accurate representation of indigenous populations. There are challenges to this — a legacy of colonialism has left indigenous communities with little trust to partake in census participation — but existing efforts to collect Māori and Pasifika data now include grassroots outreach.

There are also a variety of hardships that disproportionately impact Māori and Pasifika populations. These include imprisonment rates, houselessness and weather changes. Throughout the pandemic, many indigenous populations have signed up to receive more benefits and welfare payments. The government must continue to ensure these communities receive the support they need.

Another important step to eradicate child poverty is to improve diversity within the government. Increasing Māori and Pasifika representation at the public-sector level would give voice to the people who best understand how to tackle the child poverty crisis in New Zealand.

Many nonprofit organizations are also working to alleviate child poverty. The Child Poverty Action Group holds a series of campaigns to address different poverty-related issues and calls for action in policy advocation. It also provides a number of resources that make navigation among different available services easier. At the community level, food banks support struggling families and provide warm shelter during cold weather.

Looking Ahead

Though the government has taken some promising steps to reduce child poverty rates in New Zealand — such as its new policy requiring schools to offer free period products — its priorities must include the representation of the Māori and Pasifika in poverty statistics and initiatives. Alongside nonprofit organizations and Māori and Pasifika leaders, New Zealand has the ability to reduce child poverty.

– Danielle Han
Photo:Flickr

Child Poverty in Uganda
Many know Africa as having a high amount of poverty. Uganda is becoming one of the most impoverished countries, which is significantly affecting the children. The life-threatening impacts children in Uganda face every day include malnutrition, health assistance deprivation, access to education, shelter deprivation and exposure to crime. Here are five life-threatening impacts pertaining to child poverty in Uganda.

5 Life-Threatening Impacts Due to Child Poverty in Uganda

  1. Malnutrition: One of the biggest problems with child poverty in Uganda is malnutrition. Child hunger and malnutrition result in poor health and failure to reach educational potential. Malnutrition in young children can result from a lack of nutritious food but disease, including diarrhea, can also cause it. At least half of all children aged 6-59 months old are anemic as a result of malnutrition. In 2003, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture created a policy that aims to “reduce malnutrition among children; reduce low birth weight among newborns; and eliminate micronutrient deficiencies (in vitamin A, iodine and iron).”
  2. Health Assistance Deprivation: Most of the children in Uganda lack access to healthcare assistance and are not able to receive vaccinations at a young age because of their inability to afford them. According to the UNICEF Child Poverty and Deprivation analysis, “Children slept under treated bed nets to prevent malaria, which was the (leading) cause of 27% of deaths in Uganda in 2016.” A significant amount of children, mostly orphaned, have been suffering from HIV/AIDS in Uganda without any medical treatment. Without parents to provide for their children, the children end up being unable to access any medical assistance. Furthermore, small households with a single parent and a single child are more prone to catch illnesses.
  3. Access to Education: As a result of child poverty in Uganda, children are not always able to garner education and they frequently lack access to school supplies because of the inability to afford them. A majority of the children are unable to read or write, causing Uganda to have one of the highest illiteracy rates in Africa. Lacking nutrition in diets may cause them to miss school; even if they attend class, they may have trouble focusing on their lessons. In Uganda, the deprivation rates are increasing, with nine out of 10 children not having access to educational resources like uniforms, books, chairs and desks.
  4. Shelter Deprivation: Most Ugandan children in poverty live in rural areas with their families. In Uganda, the typical poor family is one that cannot afford access to basic necessities of living. This includes shelter, water, food, beds, blankets and cooking equipment, etc. Additionally, poorer families are not always able to afford any damages that might occur to their homes, causing the damages to worsen over time. A common living condition that the poor in Uganda have to deal with is leaky roofs, which may cause dampness in dwellings and the formation of mold. Also, most children live in households that are unable to put aside money for emergencies. Moreover, they cannot always afford to replace broken pots and pans that their households use for cooking.
  5. Exposure to Crime: Due to Child Poverty in Uganda, a growing number of children are becoming victims of criminal activity. Some forms of crime include theft, housebreaking, abuse, assault, defilement, murder, property damage and robbery. The percentage of defilement cases involving juvenile offenders rose from 28% in 2008 to 42% in 2010. The most frequent form of crime children and their families have experienced in Uganda is theft and housebreaking. Child abuse is more common in girls than boys, with 60% of child abuse crimes involving girls. Even if the crimes are not violent, the constant exposure to such crimes can cause an impact on the social and psychological health of a child.

Save the Children

The life-threatening effects of malnutrition, limited healthcare access, lack of education, shelter deprivation and higher exposure to crime rates could significantly increase if no one addresses child poverty in Uganda. Luckily, the organization Save the Children is aiming to fight for children’s rights to education, healthcare and safety around the world. In 2020, Save the Children and its donors changed the lives of over 552,000 children in Uganda by providing education, protection and health assistance.

While child poverty in Uganda is prevalent, the efforts of Save the Children have had a significant impact. Through continued work, child poverty should continue to reduce in Uganda and around the world.

– Mary McLean
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty in Liberia
Faced with two civil wars, Liberia has experienced years of poverty. With more than 80% of Liberians living in poverty, the country has been trying to revitalize its economy. Child poverty in Liberia is significant as well. Moreover, the mortality rate for children is high. In addition to this, Liberia ranks in the bottom 10 countries on the Human Development Index. The Human Development Index considers life expectancy, education and income.

Child Poverty in Liberia

According to Action Against Hunger, a stable environment for those living in Liberia has yet to emerge. Funding for healthcare facilities has significantly decreased. Liberian children often do not have proper access to education and healthcare and frequently face abuse or trafficking. As a result of this, many children live on the streets. Furthermore, 40% of children suffer from malnutrition and one in five do not receive proper nourishment. Meanwhile, about 84% of Liberians live below the international poverty line and make around $1.25 a day.

Uncertain Employment Positions

The Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) collected the following data. The overall information reveals that over 50% live in extreme poverty. In addition to this, 51.2% of families experience food shortages. This survey also shows that unemployment stands at 3.9%, meaning that Liberia has a low unemployment rate. However, the survey characterized around 79.5% of people as having uncertain employment positions whereas 79.9% of people had an informal form of employment.

While Liberia may have a low unemployment rate, many Liberians find it difficult to provide a stable life for their children and family as women average around 5.2 children. Due to small daily wages, women cannot meet children’s financial needs, reiterating the high mortality rate and low life expectancy that Liberian children experience. Due to a parent’s inability to care for a large family, children end up working at young ages.

Organizations Helping Liberian Children

For the past two decades, Save the Children has been addressing Liberian children that the civil war affected. This organization provides aid in areas such as healthcare and protection. It also assists children by providing them tools such as education and spearheading advocacy for child rights. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is one of many donors that helps Save the Children.

Action Aid is another organization that is assisting impoverished children in Liberia. Action Aid strives to attain social justice and equality and mitigate poverty. This group focuses on women and the younger generations to improve the quality of healthcare, education and children’s rights.

Many efforts have emerged to address the conditions in Liberia, including child poverty. The World Bank has provided $54 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to improve Liberia’s health services for women and children. The IFISH (Institutional Foundations to Improve Services for Health) project has spearheaded the expansion and operations of hospitals. An example is the Redemption Hospital located in Montserrado County. The multiple projects and initiatives should hopefully aid in the elimination of child poverty in Liberia.

– Nicole Sung
Photo: Flickr