Child Poverty in Guatemala
Guatemala, with an ever-growing population of almost 18 million, is the most populous country in all of Central America. After 36 years of civil war, the country struggles to rebuild and combat poverty. Poverty is a prevalent and persistent issue in the land of the Maya. Unfortunately, Guatemala ranks in the top 50 poorest countries in the world with 56% of the population living below the poverty line. By and large, this disproportionately affects Guatemalan children, and specifically native children of the Maya, Garifuna and Xinca. Combined, these Native groups comprise over half of the entire population. Thus, aboriginal kids are the primary victims of extreme Guatemalan child poverty. Furthermore, it is important to understand what contributes to this cycle of child poverty in Guatemala, its effects and what the global community is doing to eradicate it.

Facts About Guatemalan Child Poverty

The consequences of child poverty in Guatemala are heavy. The cycle of poverty begins when a child is born and statistically follows them into adulthood. These facts demonstrate the effects of child poverty in Guatemala:

  • About 28% of Guatemalan children do not attend school and must work to help contribute to their family’s income. As a result, Guatemala has one of the highest child labor rates in the Americas.
  • Due to such scarcity in resources and money, almost one-half of young Guatemalan children are continuously undernourished.
  • Girls are especially vulnerable to the cycle of poverty due to their familial situations. This stems from child marriage and the overwhelming growth of families. Thus, the larger the family, the harder the struggle to stay above the poverty line.

With these facts in mind, it is important to note that many global forces are working to end Guatemalan child poverty and impoverishment as a whole in the country.

How to Help End Guatemalan Child Poverty

There are many ways to end child poverty in Guatemala. One of these is education. In fact, a study by the World Bank stated that “education plays a crucial role in combatting chronic poverty and preventing transmission of deprivation between generations.” Intervening in education is not only a vital need for individual children but also for their families and society at large. A leader in the fight against child poverty in Guatemala is Save the Children.

Save the Children

Since 1999, Save the Children has been a leading charity organization in Guatemala. The organization works to aid poor, indigenous families living in rural areas of the country by providing education, protection and peace-building programs.

The organization’s Literacy, Education and Nutrition for Sustainability (LENS) program provides the following:

  • Encourages and strengthens reading skills
  • Promotes healthy behaviors and best practices
  • Provides well-balanced school food programs
  • Improves school facilities
  • Focuses and educates communities on water and sanitation techniques
  • Teaches the skills necessary for livestock management and production

With the help of donations, volunteers and spreading awareness, Save the Children provides the necessary education and skills to help kids sustain a liveable income. In turn, results show that proper schooling enables access to better employment and higher wages.

Overall, the country has felt the organization’s impact. The nonprofit’s work to give Guatemalan children the opportunity to have a successful life through education, protection and overall aid has shown great progress. Save the Children has provided safety for 9,000 kids and helped more than 30,000 children in crisis. It has also provided help to overcome poverty to more than 65,000 kids.

By and large, the fight to end child poverty in Guatemala continues to progress. There are many avenues in which one can involve themself and help make a difference. One kind act such as a donation can change the lives of many.

– Sallie Blackmon
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Over 89,000,000 people live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), making it the 16th most populated nation. Located in southern Africa, the DRC is one of the world’s poorest nations with around 72% of the population living in poverty. Sadly, infants and children are the main victims of this poverty making the need for help vital. Significant efforts from many different organizations have helped to save thousands of lives. Here are five important facts about child poverty in the DRC.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in the DRC

  1. Mortality Rate: The DRC has an 84.8 under-5 mortality rate out of every 1,000 births. This means that for every 100 children born, eight of them will not reach the age of 6. However, this number has dropped exponentially in the past 20 years due to the work of agencies such as USAID which has invested $34,000,000 to the cause. In 2014, USAID began the Acting on the Call Report which uses data analysis to pinpoint where it needs to allocate its funding. Helping mothers both before and after birth with medical supplies has saved thousands of children because of this data analysis. In the six years since, the under-5 mortality rate has dropped by more than 15.
  2. Education: Providing quality learning opportunities in school is a crucial aspect of breaking the poverty cycle. Over 7,000,000 children in the DRC cannot receive an education because of poorly funded schools and a lack of supplies. Improvement is coming as the government in the DRC has stated that it will allocate 20% of its spending budget to education in 2018 and maintain it at that level until 2025. This increased funding has led to more children reading and writing as now the DRC posts an 85% literacy rate for all children ages 15-24. Still, young girls experience discrimination as only 79% between 15 and 24-years-old are literate, proving that more work is necessary.
  3. Clean Water: Access to clean water is important to anyone, regardless of age. In the DRC, only 43% of people have access to basic drinking water services. This lack of water has contributed to the high infant mortality rates and will impact the Congolese for their entire lives. Projects to bring clean water to all citizens are occurring but the government is unable to expedite the process. Reports have determined that donors provide nearly 99% of water sector financing in the DRC, making every contribution meaningful. From 2008 to 2017, 2.3 million DRC citizens gained access to clean water as a result of Global Waters and other water relief efforts.
  4. Malnutrition: Right from birth, children in the DRC are in a food shortage. UNICEF has created a system to detect potential malnourishment by collecting data on child nutrition and household food security through a network of 110 sites. This has helped make sure that children and their families who may need assistance are identified and provided food. Additionally, Actions Against Hunger helped nearly 200,000 Congolese in 2019 alone gain food security and nutrition.
  5. Play Time: War and violence have become a common occurrence in the DRC. This has created a dangerous environment for young children to play with friends. Hearing these stories motivated Bethany Frank to create a toy to help DRC’s youth deal with trauma. PlayGarden, as it is known, is a small sanctuary that can include spatial awareness games that can reduce the likelihood of relieving symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many times, the focus on poverty eradication efforts goes towards resources and neglects the fact that children need to play.

Child poverty in the DRC is challenging to combat. But advancements in clean water, food and education will help pave the road to better conditions. The work that some are doing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has not reached completion, but many children have benefitted from what they have accomplished so far.

Zachary Hardenstine
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Iceland
Popular for its beautiful landmarks and picturesque views, Iceland is now facing an issue that highlights a much darker reality taking place on the nordic island. Iceland has been able to keep poverty at a relatively low percentage for much of its history. However, in the past decade, the country has experienced a drastic rise in poverty and child poverty in Iceland in particular. One can largely attribute this to the economic collapse that the country experienced a little over a decade ago.

The Situation

In 2008, Iceland’s banks defaulted as a result of loans that the country had taken out with many foreign banks. At the time, Icelandic banks were some of the most lucrative banks globally. The country accumulated a massive amount of debt following large loans and grand foreign investments. The intention was to further boost the economy and to take advantage of the financial prosperity taking place in the country at the time. The value of the Icelandic currency, the Krona, was at an all-time high with a 900% increase in value. The country experienced an economic boom, and citizens received encouragement to take part in the flourishing economy. As a result, many purchased expensive homes, took on multiple mortgages and invested in foreign companies. The country was, unfortunately, unable to pay these large sums back. The result was catastrophic. Banks defaulted on foreign loans leading to a massive national financial crisis. Iceland’s credit was tarnished and almost every business in the country had gone bankrupt. Citizens ended up with large bills with little or no way to pay them. What followed was an extreme rise in poverty.

The Consequences of the Crash

Healthcare expenses experienced a peak, and with mortgages nearly doubling in cost, the price of living increased exponentially. Many households were unable to afford the basic and vital services required for daily living. According to a report discussing the consequences of the crisis, unemployment rates rose to 7.6%. This was 5% higher than the annual unemployment rates prior to the economic downturn. Inflation was another result of the crash. Mortgage prices increased nearly doubling. With the national currency, the krona, experiencing a decrease in value, the price of many goods and services suffered an impact as well. Iceland saw a substantial rise in housing insecurity and homelessness. Citizens took to the streets to protest many of the issues taking place at the time, and to express their frustrations with the government’s reactions to the crisis. This resulted in a new left-leaning government that promised to offer support for its struggling citizens.

Child Poverty in Iceland and Government Aid

Child poverty saw a drastic rise during this time of economic downturn. In fact, child poverty increased from 11.2% to 31.6% between 2008 and 2012. Unemployment was on the rise, and families faced immense financial strife that greatly affected the home. Iceland’s government was able to provide its residents with support for regular access to vital resources such as food, housing and healthcare. Healthcare programs that Iceland put in place prior to the crash offered much-needed support to Icelandic citizens with healthcare services during the crash. The Icelandic government also provided support in many areas. This included welfare services for low-income households, along with a tax decrease for low-income earners and a tax increase for high-income earners. This ensured financial support for the most vulnerable during the crash. Low and mid-income-earning citizens received social benefits and debt relief. Wealth redistribution played a large role in the economic support provided for citizens during this time.

The Case of Child Poverty

The ways in which poverty can present itself differs from nation to nation. One can find many of the challenges most common amongst Icelandic children living in poverty in many nations across the globe. According to a report by Humanium.org, some of the key issues that impoverished Icelandic children face are varying health issues, emotional strife, sexual exploitation and labor exploitation.

Confronting Child Poverty

Throughout Iceland’s history, poverty rates have been well managed in comparison to other less developed Islands. Prior to the financial crisis, Iceland held a relatively low poverty rate. According to a Statistics Iceland report, a total of 9% of the population was at risk of living in poverty in comparison to 16% in other nordic islands and the estimated 23% in the United Kingdom.  While poverty existed in the country, it was certainly not as high as during or after the crisis. Iceland has done tremendous work to repair its economy. The programs that Iceland’s government implemented provided support for many low-income families while also helping to boost its then damaged economy. Unfortunately, citizens who plummeted into poverty as a result of the economic downturn have struggled to find a way out. To combat this, the Icelandic government has implemented many methods of support for citizens facing these challenges. This includes lower-cost healthcare services, debt relief for mortgage holders and social services for low income earning citizens. These policies have proven to provide much promise for a reduction in poverty overall in the country. The goal is that with a decrease in general poverty, the child poverty rates will also reduce in Iceland.

Imani A. Smikle
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Chile
Chile is one of the most economically advanced and prosperous countries in Latin America. However, large wage gaps and wealth distribution continue to be at the forefront of the nation’s problems. As a result, high rates of poverty prevail; approximately 14.4% of the population live below the poverty line with a high prevalence of child poverty in Chile as well.

Children, one of the country’s most vulnerable populations, are especially susceptible to the consequences that poverty causes. Those who come from poorer families are more likely to face spillover effects with regard to their education, as well as their overall health and well-being. Additionally, indigenous and migrant children face an added level of discrimination. Because of these issues, child poverty in Chile is a growing concern.

Education

Although school is mandatory for all children between the ages of 7 and 16, in rural areas, many children receive only limited schooling. There are an estimated 75,000 children who do not attend school. Oftentimes, children may abandon school in order to work and provide for their families.

The inequality with regard to access to education is even more evident in the higher education system, where enrollment costs are among the highest in the world. According to a survey released in 2017, 58% of Chileans believe that a lack of education leads to a lack of opportunities, further exacerbating overall poverty in Chile.

The good news is that UNICEF worked with the government in order to reduce child poverty in Chile by establishing laws and programs that provide additional protection for children’s right to education, like the development of the Inclusive Education Act and the New Public Education Act. UNICEF has also supported the Ministry of Education in developing strategies to train teachers, which emerged through a partnership with UNICEF and Fútbol Más, an organization that works to ensure the well-being of Chilean children.

Labor

Correlated to the lack of access to education, 6.6% of children between the ages of 5-17 are participants in child labor. Additionally, there are gender discrepancies within child labor; 9.5% of boys and 3.9% of girls engage in the workforce. Child labor is often a result of high unemployment rates; families expect and depend on their children to accrue revenue. The most common industries of work are commerce, hotel, restaurants, social services, agriculture and construction.

Moreover, the conditions of the workplace can have a negative impact on children’s overall health; approximately 70.6% of working children work at jobs that are dangerous. Those who work in agriculture are especially susceptible to perform unsafe tasks. The lack of public data available, including how much money goes toward inspection and the number of labor inspectors, further worsens how the country manages child labor.

Still, progress has occurred. In 2017, Chile developed a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, updating its list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children, as well as its inspector laws. The government also revised the Anti-Trafficking National Action Plan in 2019 and continues to support programs that address child labor, though commercial sexual exploitation and child labor are ongoing issues.

Abuse

Not only does violence occur within the workplace, but also within the confines of the home. Children who become victims of physical, sexual and psychological domestic violence will frequently turn to the streets in order to escape their alarming home environments. Many end up in cities, surviving day to day and not knowing what their next source of water or food will be. These “street children” lack proper education, as well as many other resources necessary for a developing child.

About 547 adolescents and children lived on the streets during 2018. Fundación Don Bosco is an organization that gives opportunities to both children and adults who live in the street. The organization offers food, housing, psychological and psychiatric assistance to children and their parents, with the hope of rebuilding familial ties and reintegration. As previously mentioned, family abuse, and thus division, is the main reason why children take to the streets. Because of this, Fundación Don Bosco followed and offered professional support to 191 street children and their families.

Native and Migrant Children

In addition to street children, native and migrant children are two more marginalized groups that are especially susceptible to child poverty in Chile. About 5% of Chile’s population comprises of indigenous people, primarily the Aymara and the Mapuche. These children do not have the same access to education and healthy lifestyles as other children, due to their family’s lower economic status. As a result, they are likely to engage in labor work, from the fields to the factories, in order to help support their families. All the while, they can experience discrimination or people may view them as inferior due to their indigenous status.

Migrant children also face discrimination, especially with regard to their education. As a result, in 2017, the Ministry of Education evaluated migrant children in the education system in order to better assess and understand their role within the system, as well as to help identify barriers related to overall school inclusion. This led to the creation of the program, Chile Recognizes, which assists in regularizing the identity situation and status of migrant children.

Despite the evident fact that there is child poverty in Chile, economic and social progress has occurred. In 2019, the National Prosecutor’s Office signed an agreement to help improve coordination in providing services to children in need, as well as ensure that both Chile’s standards and reality with regard to children’s rights and development align with those of international expectations and treaties.

Marielle Marlys
Photo: Flickr

 

Child Poverty in Tanzania
In the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, Tanzania is one of the leading nations in development and reform. Since 2010, Tanzania’s economic indicators have held steadily above the average numbers of the rest of the region, boasting a positive GDP growth between 5% and 7% in the last 10 years. According to the World Bank’s 2019 Tanzania Mainland Poverty Assessment, poverty decreased by 8% in 10 years. Still, the World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Bella Bird, urged the nation “to accelerate the pace of poverty reduction as the number of poor people remains high.” This article will assess child poverty in Tanzania and the efforts to eradicate it.

Better Planning, Better Counting

 In 2011, Tanzania committed itself to a series of national Five Year Development Plans (FYDP) to reach economic and human development goals by 2025. The Second Five Development Plan (FYDP II), 2016/17 – 2020/21, includes “poverty reduction” as a main focus. Tanzania’s overall positive economic performance results from a commitment to accurate assessment and careful planning that has welcomed newer and better ways to assess certain indicators, such as child poverty.

With the help of UNICEF, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published the Child Poverty in Tanzania report in 2019. This report assesses child poverty in Tanzania through the recently developed framework known as Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA), which “complements the traditional method of measuring poverty through the lens of a household’s aggregate income and consumption.” The report notes that MODA brings to focus the “importance in the wellbeing of a child during childhood” without losing sight of the monetary implications of poverty.

Multidimensional Child Poverty in Tanzania

The report defines “multidimensional child poverty” as a child who “suffers deprivation in three or more key dimensions of poverty: nutrition, health, protection, education, information, sanitation, water and housing.” The report further divides each dimension into indicators, thresholds and applicable ages. Using data from the 2014/15 National Panel Survey, this 2019 report provides an update on a previous report from 2016, and a clearer look at the issue of child poverty in Tanzania.

Below is a breakdown of each dimension, its indicators and the percentage of children (0-17 years old) deprived of each respective dimension.

  • Nutrition: The prevalence of stunting or wasting, body mass index (BMI) and dietary diversity – 30.1% of children deprived.
  • Health: Mother’s assisted delivery, antenatal care, support to a child with severe disability, malaria and diarrhea – 54.7% of children deprived.
  • Protection: Victim of crime, birth registration, early marriage and child labor – 86.4% of children deprived.
  • Water: Unimproved water and time to fetch water – 72.3% of children deprived.
  • Sanitation: Unsafe waste disposal, unsafe stool disposal and unimproved/shared sanitation – 91.1% of children deprived.
  • Housing: Inadequate floor/roof, overcrowding and solid cooking fuel – 88.8% of children deprived.
  • Education: Literacy, school enrolment, completed primary, pre-school enrolment and grade for age – 36.1% of children deprived.
  • Information: Communication device and access to information – 39.4% of children deprived.

The report concludes that a total of 88% of children in Tanzania are multidimensionally poor, meaning that they suffer from at least three deprivations above.

Higher Figures, Good or Bad?

According to the report, 19.5% of children live in monetary poverty, a much lower figure. Why, then, should Tanzania pay attention to the higher figure from the more complicated model? Working through the MODA methodology provides a more accurate look at the barriers that block Tanzanian children from participating in the semi-industrial future of their government’s goals.

Furthermore, this approach to understanding poverty highlights the importance of investing in programs that go beyond monetary solutions. While Tanzania has been successful in its cash-transfer programs, there may be a need to improve programs that tend to the non-monetary wellbeing of children should the country heed to Bird’s suggestions of speeding up the pace of progress.

USAID and Tanzania

Fortunately, Tanzania is not alone in the development and investment of such programs. USAID has recognized the need to empower the youth by increasing access to health care, water, nutrition and education, among other resources. Since the updated report in June 2019, USAID has developed two new programs that affect children directly: one in nutrition (30.1% of children deprived) and one in education (36.1% of children deprived).

Advancing Nutrition

Through the Advancing Nutrition activity, USAID works with Tanzanian authorities to support the implementation and further development of the National Multi-sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (NMNAP), initially set up in 2016 and due for a second iteration after June 2021. According to the midterm NMNAP report, Tanzania is on track to meet most of its goals from 2016.

Between 2014 and 2018:

  • Acute malnutrition in children 5-years-old and under has dropped from 3.8% to 3.5%.
  • The prevalence of overweight children under 5-years-old has dropped from 3.5% to 2.8%.
  • The proportion of children aged 0-5 months who are exclusively breastfed rose from 41% to 58%.
  • The proportion of children aged 6-23 months who received a minimum acceptable diet increased from 20% to 30%.

Hesabu Na Elimu Jumuishi (“Arithmetic and Inclusive Education”)

The second program developed after June 2019 for children revolves around education. The Arithmetic and Inclusive Education activity expands math instruction for young children and “addresses the need for inclusive education for children with disabilities.” According to the UNICEF report, around 48% of children 5-13 years old experience deprivation in the education dimension. This USAID activity will work directly to improve this indicator of multidimensional in child poverty in Tanzania.

Looking Ahead

Tanzanian leaders and international groups understand the need to develop more aggressive plans to tackle poverty. As the USAID Tanzania Activity Briefer notes in the “Better Policies” activity description: “a reduction in poverty slower than the economic growth rate implies that growth has not sufficiently reached those who are the most vulnerable.”

In the next two years, Tanzania’s development (FYDP) and nutrition (NMNAP) plans will be re-discussed and re-planned. Many of USAID’s programs in Tanzania will also soon reach a conclusion, such as the “Water Resources Integration Development Initiative” (WARIDI), which improves sanitation and water management while creating jobs (72.3% of children experience deprivation in the water dimension).

Through this new look at indicators of poverty, namely multidimensional child poverty, such programs along with the government now have a better understanding of how to allocate resources purposefully to address more directly the issue of child poverty in Tanzania.

– Luis Gonzalez Kompalic
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Israel
Poverty in Israel impacts 469,400 families with around 1.8 million Israeli citizens living below the poverty line. Children make up 841,000 of the Israeli citizens in poverty, ranking second-most severe, next to Turkey. Poverty in Israel rose from 19.4% in 2017 to 20.4% in 2018 while child poverty rose 2% in those years from 27.1% to 29.1%. Luckily, there are groups looking to reduce child poverty by providing aid to those experiencing hunger. Several non -governmental agencies are working to collect, preserve and distribute food in the country.

Nutrition Among Impoverished Children in Israel

Child poverty in Israel results in children not receiving proper nutrition and reaching their full potential. Welfare services are in place for children who live in extreme poverty in Israel. In 2018, there were 2,934,000 children in Israel. Of these children, poverty affected 14% or 400,000. Families with more children are more likely to experience poverty. In fact, families with an average of five children or more account for two-thirds of child poverty in Israel. Meanwhile, poverty affects 25% of single-family households in Israel. Families who have immigrated from other countries since 1990 account for 16% of all children who are on the welfare support system and about 57.8% of Arab children live in poverty.

State support for child poverty in Israel lacks the nutritional diversity necessary to sustain proper growth and development. About 76.3% of children receiving nutritional support receive only bread and condiments. Meanwhile, reports have determined that 54.5% of children in poverty in Israel have smaller meals than required for proper nutrition or have skipped meals altogether.

The Work of Latet

Latet, meaning “To Give,” works to eliminate child poverty in Israel. Latet has been working to restore dignity and feed families in Israel for more than 20 years.  Latet supervises 180 local organizations in Israel aimed at helping Israeli citizens sustain food supply via means of a food bank and other aid programs that attempt to reduce child poverty in Israel. Latet provides assistance to more than 60,000 families monthly by salvaging food that may have otherwise gone to waste. It collects food from grocery stores, food manufactures and food distributors before sending it to its distribution center. There, the organization sorts, packages and distributes the food to families in need. Latet owns a fleet of trucks for distribution, which occurs to preserve the dignity of families who are able to benefit from the organization’s services.

Latet maintains economic efficiency by maximizing benefits to families. For every one shekel that it attributes to costs of gathering and transporting food, it obtains and distributes nine shekels worth of food. About 19,100 volunteers have provided 452,000 hours of aid that assist child poverty in Israel. Latet has successfully salvaged $25,000,000 in food annually that would have otherwise gone to waste, and distributed it to families in need. Because of the strategic partnership that Latet has with food supply chains in Israel, it has been able to successfully supply much-needed food to help fight child poverty in Israel.

Non-governmental agencies such as Latet are continuing the fight against child poverty in Israel. It is striving to gain support and momentum both in Israel and abroad. The Alternative Poverty Report, which Latet distributes, keeps track of progress and provides different statistics to bring to light the severity of issues of poverty in Israel. The organization has thousands of volunteers and has large public displays to help raise awareness to provide aid to the issue of Israel’s child poverty.

– Carolyn Lyrenmann
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in South Africa
Situated in the southernmost region of the African continent, poverty plagues South Africa and afflicts around 7 million of its children, accounting for more than 60% of the population. This growing problem owes itself to an increase in low-income families, the urban-rural area divide and decreased access to medical care and necessities of life. But work is slowly being done to turn the tide of this dire situation. In recent years, multidimensional child poverty in South Africa has decreased significantly (by almost 10 percentage points). However, it is possible to do more. Here are three ways to eradicate child poverty in South Africa.

3 Ways to Eradicate Child Poverty in South Africa

  1. Increasing Access to Education: A recent UNICEF study shows that only around one-fifth of children in highly educated households end up in poverty. Consequently, poverty rates would drop significantly if educational support for children increases from a young age. This is especially true of rural areas, where access to education is a very rare commodity. In fact, a lack of proper schooling facilities heavily contributes to 63% of children aged 5-12 living in poverty in rural areas of South Africa. Encouraging children to attend school deters them from joining gangs and buying into other violence which is prevalent in South African cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. To that end, South Africa scored 77.49 on the crime index, ranking as one of the highest in the world. However, as apartheid has left the picture, more than 20% of the South African budget has gone towards the education system, a very high figure among international standards dedicated to ending discriminatory practices in the child learning process.
  2. Spending on Child Service Programs: The latest General Household Survey reflects that only around 17 in 100 South Africans have access to reliable medical insurance. That means that more than 45 million people have little to no connection to basic health care or medical needs, let alone the demographic of children. Expanding spending for universal healthcare for all residents in South Africa would greatly benefit the country’s poor. For example, a 2018 UNICEF study found that an estimated 43,000 children under 5 years of age died in South Africa, of which more than 12,000 were newborns. The majority of these fatalities would be preventable if the government were to enact greater spending on pertinent social issues affecting its youth through special programs, such as the social welfare system that the South African Department of Social Development manages.
  3. Creating New Jobs for Adults: Although this last strategy may sound counterintuitive to assessing the child poverty situation in South Africa, statistics point to the fact that in households where adults remain unemployed, four-fifths of children grow up in substandard living conditions. Moreover, families with one designated breadwinner are more inclined to invest their income into education for their children – an investment that will likely break the cycle of poverty. As of 2020, the 30% unemployment rate in South Africa is contributing significantly to the country’s child poverty situation. Already, the government has worked to increase labor market incomes and expand the need for skill-based jobs to combat this reality through its Youth Employment Service. Since the implementation of this program, poverty in South Africa has been steadily declining.

The data supports that current government intervention in South Africa’s socio-economic situation has shown positive results. Amplifying the effects of these existing constructs to reduce the disparity between rural and urban populations will gradually shape the country into a society that provides equity for all of its youth. These solutions will help ensure that more children in South Africa will live healthy, sustainable lives in years to come.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Cambodia
A shocking 30% of the Cambodian population lives under the poverty line, affecting children most of all. The under-5 mortality rate in Cambodia sits at 25% due to the extreme poverty they live in. Here is some information about child poverty in Cambodia.

Malnutrition and Education

Children in Cambodia face malnutrition from conception due to many women experiencing malnourishment while pregnant. Malnutrition occurs when women do not have the right care during their pregnancy. Limited resources in Cambodia contribute to the issue of women not being able to obtain the necessary care to stay healthy during pregnancy. This absence of nutrition does not end once children are born either. If a baby does not receive post-natal care or proper nutrition in their first couple of months, it can lead to stunting in growth or even death.

On top of that, more than 10% of Cambodian children currently do not go to school. Instead of getting a substantial education, around 45% of children age 5 to 14 partake in labor instead. Though the situation appears dismal for the children of Cambodia, people across the globe are working on solving common problems circling child poverty in Cambodia.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking has intimate ties to poverty in Cambodia. The four main factors that lead to human trafficking today include mass displacement, conflict, extreme poverty and lack of access to education and jobs. It is extremely common for parents to sell their children to human traffickers or for traffickers to lure children with the prospect of a legitimate job, only for them to enter prostitution. When short on money to provide for their families, parents may sell their daughters’ virginity, as it can give them up to 20 times their household average income a week.

The Rapha House is an organization dedicated to rehabilitating young girls after rescuing them from human trafficking. It started in 2003 after the founder spoke to Cambodian leaders about the threat of human trafficking to Cambodian girls. The organization opened two houses in Cambodia: Battambang and Siem Rep. Each aftercare campus gives child survivors of slavery and sexual exploitation the chance to reclaim their lost childhood. Survivors are treated with love and value instead of abuse and neglect. Volunteers at the houses teach morals and self-love to these girls daily, in hopes of healing them from their trauma.

Educating Children

Though the initial percentages of student enrollment in Cambodia were low, presence in the classroom is rising significantly. The number of children enrolling in primary education increased to over 97% during the 2017-2018 school year. Enrollment had limitations prior due to the need for manual labor in family businesses. Children worked with, or for, their parents to help earn a livable income.

ChildFund has been working on improving education in Cambodia through fundraising since 2007 and has no plans to stop any time soon. Its official website says that helping children living in poverty fulfill their potential through education is one of its top priorities in the country of Cambodia. The funds raised go directly to helping eliminate child poverty in Cambodia allowing donors to sponsor a child and help pay for their education. Education is key in ending the cycle of poverty. Once people learn essential skills, they can go on to get better jobs and make more money.

Helping the Hungry

The national prevalence of under-5 stunting is 32.4%, which is greater than the developing country average of 25% according to the Global Nutrition Report. Cambodia also struggles with an under-5 wasting prevalence of 9.8%, which surpasses the normal developing country average significantly. Malnutrition in children and their mothers during pregnancy causes this stunting. Child poverty in Cambodia often occurs when children lack the proper amount of food per day to remain healthy. If their bodies have no nutrition, they will not have the energy to grow, causing growth stunts.

Action Against Hunger, an activist group aiming to improve all-around nutrition on a global level, has been taking strides to lower Cambodia’s under-5 statistics. Over the course of 2019, the organization created 5,310 community groups focused on increasing food security through rice banks, farming and home gardens. It also helped 7,139 people reach nutrition and health programs and 6,278 people gain access to food security programs. Action Against Hunger says that it has helped 15,744 people total in Cambodia during 2019.

Alleviating child poverty in Cambodia requires more work, but these organizations show that it is possible to improve the situation. Rapha House, ChildFund and Action Against Hunger are all taking huge steps to help eliminate child poverty in Cambodia whether it be through donations, fieldwork or volunteering.

– Kendall Little
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Mexico
Right now, over a quarter of Mexican children live in poverty. Many of these children lack the basic necessities for success, such as education, food and housing. As a result, the cycle of poverty continues. Mexico possesses a two-sided economy in which one side thrives with a growing GDP, while the other is overwhelmingly impoverished. This socioeconomic disparity results in devastating consequences for Mexico’s most vulnerable demographic- its children. Here are three important ways to help alleviate child poverty in Mexico.

3 Ways to Help Alleviate Child Poverty in Mexico

  1. Improve Education Quality: The dedication to education in Mexico is staggeringly low. As of right now, only 0.8% of Mexico’s GDP is dedicated to early childhood social investments. This percentage is lower than every other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country other than Turkey. With nearly 5,000 Mexican children dropping out of school every day, the need for education reform is growing increasingly stronger. Only 62% of Mexican children reach high school and a mere 38% of Mexican adults between 25 and 64 have completed an upper secondary education. This is a startling statistic in comparison to the OECD average of 74% of adults between 25 and 64 having completed secondary education. Education directly links to poverty reduction; organizations such as Enseña Por México recognize the serious disadvantages that children in Mexico face as a result of their lack of effective schooling. Enseña Por México, a counterpart of the U.S. organization Teach for America, aims to expand educational opportunities in Mexico. Its methodology includes one-on-one teaching from education professionals in the hopes of bolstering academic, professional and social development. While the organization has been running for the past six years, it has served over 60,000 students.
  2. Ensure Food Security: While rates of malnutrition in Mexico have dropped within recent years, the prime issue of food insecurity still prevails. Nationally, 13% of children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition. This percentage primarily comes from rural southern Mexico, where food insecurity is a prevalent issue. Food insecurity results from problems with availability, accessibility and consumption. The number of malnourished children in Mexico is not a result of the country’s lack of national food production; rather, it is a product of Mexico’s poor families lacking basic access to food. However, some are making efforts to help these underprivileged children and their families. Organizations such as the Southern Baja Food Security Alliance (SBFSA) are working to provide healthy food programs in rural areas of Mexico. The organization works in collaboration with community stakeholders to help institute education programs that teach citizens how to grow and harvest healthy foods. These programs reach into the particularly rural areas of Southern Mexico that suffer from food insecurity the most severely. These communities desperately need sustainable solutions to alleviate hunger in their communities and ensure proper nutrition for their children.
  3. Remove Children from Dangerous Situations: Homelessness is a frequent consequence of child poverty in Mexico. “Street children” is a term that people often use to describe this group between the ages of 6 and 18 years old. Mexico City has 1,900,000  underprivileged and street children; nearly 240,000 of these are children who have experienced abandonment. Housing instability results in a heightened number of at-risk youths. Stunted development physically, psychologically and behaviorally all inextricably link to homelessness. These inhibited developments lead to children falling victim to issues like substance abuse, depression and mental health problems. The reasons why many children are homeless in Mexico are that they have learning disabilities, come from situations of domestic violence or have familial estrangements. Tragically, it is not uncommon to see homeless children as young as 5 years old attempting to sell trinkets on the streets of larger cities such as Mexico City or Puebla. Certain organizations have been working to take these homeless children out of their dangerous living situations. Mexico Child Link Trust, for example, works toward helping abandoned children with learning disabilities in Mexico. The organization provides housing for abandoned and orphaned children with learning disabilities, many of whom are prior street children. With over 20 years of success, the Mexico Child Link Trust has helped numerous children gain sustainable housing. Meanwhile, Street Soccer Mexico A.C. uses soccer as a tool to help homeless and disadvantaged children transform their perspectives and attitudes. The organization receives aid from national and civic institutions to organize soccer training and tournaments for its members. Since its opening 6 years ago, Street Soccer Mexico A.C. has expanded its program to reach every state of Mexico.

Child poverty in Mexico is flourishing as a substantial portion of the Mexican population lives below the poverty line. A lack of education, food insecurity and homelessness plague many of their lives. While organizations work toward aiding these vulnerable individuals, an abundance of work still needs to occur to help the impoverished children of Mexico.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Pixabay

Child Poverty in China
‘Ice boy’ brought pity and awe when he first appeared in a viral photo back in January 2018 with his hair completely frozen and his cheeks intensely red, having walked an hour to school in freezing temperatures. The viral photo was just a glimpse into child poverty in China, a major ongoing issue. Wang Fuman, then 8, lived in extreme poverty with his sister, father, uncle and grandmother in the Yunnan province for his entire life. One can see an inside look at their dilapidated hut in an interview with the South China Morning Post, showing barely any furniture, a leaking rook during precipitation and limited supplies of food.

Where Fuman is Today

Fuman, now 10, is currently living in a new home thanks to the efforts of foreigners sending cash donations, heating items and much-needed supplies to the struggling family. One particular family involved in this effort is his new American friends from California. Carolyn Miller and her family took action to help the family after hearing about its news. They have since frequently connected with Fuman and his family through phone calls and belated birthday presents, promoting cross-cultural relations and understanding in the process.

However, the inevitable truth still remains: there are 96 million more ‘Ice Boys,’ girls and adults living in poverty in China according to the UNICEF PPP $3.20 data, and most of them lie in the western half.

Child Poverty in Eastern Versus Western China

The eastern half is where the vast majority of people reside as it bears more habitable conditions. The western half juxtaposes this as its population is scattered throughout the many inhospitable mountains and desert areas. This results in the majority of child poverty in China being located in the western half while the eastern half is home to financial hubs like Shanghai, Shengzhen and Guangzhou.

Mass Migration

For people like Fuman who live in the Yunnan Province and for the other people who live in remote areas in provinces of the western half, a lack of opportunity causes mass migration from small villages where former rural villagers come into cities in droves. Many of these remote, small villages end up losing millions of people, leaving the villages as shells of their former selves. According to CNBC, in 2000, China had 3.7 million villages based on research by Tianjin University. That number dropped to 2.6 million, a loss of about 300 villages a day, by 2010. Usually, only one to three families remain in these small villages. In some cases, the villages become completely deserted. This leaves the villages with immense labor deficits, which impacts those without the means to migrate, just like in Fuman’s case. These villages that once comprised of numerous jobs like teachers, construction workers, retail workers and others are all gone, leaving those who stayed behind to resort to subsistence farming as their only means of survival. This is why children like Fuman have to travel long distances and often in harsh, icy cold conditions just to go to school, which was what sparked Fuman’s ‘Ice Boy’ viral photo in the first place.

Despite these facts, Fuman and others remain optimistic about the steady progress that is occurring. People like Miller and her family do a great service to make life easier for families like Fuman’s. Raising awareness is integral to extending help to more people like Fuman, as it brings an increase in attention for child poverty in China. People are noticing more and more children in extreme poverty through similar viral posts and videos, attracting an increase in donations and aid for children in those circumstances. Fuman’s story shows that simply donating cash relief aid and basic supplies can indeed make the difference for child poverty in China.

– Justin Chan
Photo: Flickr