Child poverty in ArgentinaPrior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children in Argentina had been living in poverty. The pandemic has caused poverty numbers to soar due to COVID-19’s many negative effects. When considering the long-term presence and future impacts of poverty, it is all the more critical to help the children in this country and around the world. This article highlights facts about child poverty in Argentina and the work of some organizations on the ground helping such children.

The Current Situation

There has never been a more critical time for action than now. UNICEF estimates that 63% of Argentinian children will be living in poverty by the end of 2020 due to COVID-19. In August 2019, child poverty reached more than 50%, with 13% of children in a state of hunger. As compared to the year prior, this is an 11% increase. UNICEF estimates that, at the end of 2020, there will be an increase of 18.7% in extreme poverty among children and teenagers.

Child Poverty Statistics

The above figures depict that one in every two Argentinian children lives in poverty, which amounts to 5 million children. One million of these children are homeless. Those who do have homes often deal with difficult household circumstances. Many children are subject to child labor, which includes work as domestics or “house slaves.” These children end up working in illegal textile workshops, mining, construction or agriculture. The exploitation of child labor is commonly related to sexual exploitation. In response, Argentina has passed laws and social programs to end child labor and sexual exploitation. However, the fight to end these practices must continue.

As of 2017, nearly 20% of Argentinian children do not attend school. After the collapse of the economy nearly 20 years ago, funding for education was heavily reduced. Children living in poverty were the first to be affected as they had to work in order to provide for their families. There are also issues with violence occurring in schools. Corporal punishment still takes place when young school children misbehave, which can cause further behavioral problems while instilling the belief that violence is the norm.

As compared to the rest of the population, native children are at high risk for poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. For example, in the province of Tucumán, the Indigenous children and families live well below the poverty line and also endure illegal evictions from their ancestral lands. Additionally, these children are exposed to violence, malnutrition, disease and a lack of proper education.

Child Poverty Aid

Child poverty in Argentina seems rather defeating considering these statistics. However, there are multiple organizations that are on the ground fighting for the human rights, safety, health and happiness of Argentinian children.

One is Mensajeros de la Paz, a temporary home for vulnerable girls. Another is the Sumando Manos Foundation, which extends pediatric visits out to more than 7,000 at-risk children and their communities. The foundation also supplies food, provides critical medical and dental attention and teaches fundamental health care. There is also Fundacion Oportunidad. This organization increases opportunities for economic and social integration of young Argentinian women in situations of social vulnerability. Involvement in these organizations, as well as donation opportunities, are endless.

There are five dimensions of well-being that are vital to the success of childhood development: adequate nutrition, education, safe areas to live and play, access to health services and financial stability. The fight cannot stop until there is an end to child poverty in Argentina and until each child has access to the resources necessary for a healthy and prosperous life.

Naomi Schmeck
Photo: Flickr