Children born in poverty

Five Facts About Children Born in Poverty

  1. UNICEF estimates that 39 percent of children in low and middle-income countries are living in extreme poverty. These children born in poverty must survive on less than $1.25 a day. From education to food security, severe poverty impacts nearly every aspect of a child’s life. According to UNICEF, “Nearly half of all deaths in children under five are attributable to undernutrition.” It is estimated that over three million children die every year from hunger.
  2. In countries like Madagascar, the only meal many children receive in a day is school lunch. Malnutrition also causes children to be more susceptible to illnesses like malaria, pneumonia and measles. Several organizations like UNICEF, USAID and Save the Children have programs to provide adequate nutrition to children in developing countries.
  3. A 2015 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank Group estimated 400 million people were without access to basic healthcare throughout the world. Approximately nine million children under the age of five die yearly. The WHO estimates 70 percent of these deaths are preventable with better access to medical care.
  4. The U.N. reports that children comprise half of the world’s refugee population. These children come from conflict-ridden countries like Syria, Sudan and Iraq and many are internally displaced. Access to adequate healthcare, education and shelter are all challenges refugee children must face. Many of these children lost their entire family to violence within their home countries.
  5. Children born in poverty are also more likely to be affected by mental health problems. Even in developed countries like the U.S., long-term financial stress is linked to poor mental health. Rates of anxiety and depression are higher among low-income individuals. The loss of close family members can also increase the likelihood of adverse mental health for children born in poverty.

Poverty is a cyclical condition and education is crucial to ending chronic poverty. Children born to low-income families are statistically likely to remain impoverished due to a lack of education and opportunities.

The U.N. reports that between the years of 1994 and 2009, “Rural households where the household head had completed primary education were 16 percent less likely to be chronically poor.”

These promising statistics are the driving force behind government-led programs and NGOs to increase access to education.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Pixabay

Child poverty in New Zealand

New Zealand is among the world’s most developed countries. The average life expectancy of its population is over 80 years of age, and the country’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. Unfortunately, poverty exists and is a challenge. In particular, child poverty in New Zealand is a real issue.

Approximately 305,000 children in New Zealand live in poverty. This means over a quarter of children living within the country are underprivileged. Additionally, 14 percent of these children cannot afford basic food, housing or clothing. According to UNICEF, “the economic cost of child poverty is in the range of NZ $6-8 billion per year.”

The organization states the failure to invest in poverty reduction efforts in the present will lead to major economic issues in the future.

Children that grow up in poverty–which is often in households with single-parents, large families or a disabled relative–are more likely to experience health problems, struggle to access education and become imprisoned in the future. Unfortunately, childhood poverty is cyclical and is not easily escaped from generation to generation.

In New Zealand, certain ethnic groups have higher rates of child poverty than others. Specifically, the Maori and Pacific populations face greater child poverty than the rest of the country.

Eliminating child poverty is not only a humanitarian responsibility but also an opportunity to help the country’s economy. According to UNICEF, eliminating child poverty can help improve New Zealand’s economy in the long run. Lowering child poverty rates would decrease the financial burden of healthcare and crime. Essentially, the entire community can benefit from aid programs.

Consequentially, many are calling upon the government to increase funding and programs available to the poor. There are multiple organizations dedicated to alleviating child poverty in New Zealand, including UNICEF, KidsCan and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

KidsCan is an organization working to provide impoverished children with essential food, clothing and healthcare. Organizations such as these are crucial to solving the child poverty crisis within the country.

CPAG is another independent charity raising awareness and funding for child poverty in New Zealand. The organization believes that the government has not implemented any substantial efforts to reduce the problem.

It is crucial to address child poverty specifically as newer generations can break the cycle of poverty when given proper resources.

Saroja Koneru


Child Poverty in Japan
The media covers news regarding poverty in developing countries, but rarely does one see media coverage of poverty in a first-world country like Japan.

First-world countries are defined by their developed infrastructures, capitalist economies and mass industrialization. Because it is a first-world country, there is an assumption that the level of poverty in Japan would be relatively low, yet this is not the case.

In fact, in 2014 the Japanese government found that the relative poverty rate (those who live on less than half of the national median income) was 16 percent of the total population of Japan. According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the national median income of Japan is around ¥2.75 million, which converts to $27,323.

The majority of people who fall in that 16 percent do not have permanent employment contracts, instead relying on irregular work at construction sites or manufacturing production lines. So while unemployment in Japan falls below 4 percent, irregular and part-time workers (who fall in the relative poverty rate category) comprise around 40 percent of the Japanese workforce.

Another hidden hardship for the country is the amount of child poverty in Japan.

One in six children lives in poverty in a dual-parent family; one in two children live in poverty in Japan with a single parent.

A large contributing factor to child poverty in Japan is the cost of education. Parents living on less than ¥3mil a year struggle to afford the ¥200,000 a year required for their child to attend public high school full time in addition to rent, utilities, food, clothing and other miscellaneous expenses.

Inability to get the education they deserve deprives the Japanese workforce of the skilled laborers necessary to keep the economy thriving.

Community centers, such as the one established in Saitama by the Saitama Youth Support Net, a nonprofit organization run by university student volunteers, help combat the problem of child poverty in Japan by offering free tutoring services to financially strapped families who cannot afford expensive schools or private tutors for their children.

Other anti-child-poverty advocates have created a petition on for a state-backed scholarship program for poor families; as of June 2016, it had garnered over 5,000 supporters.

Hopefully, more progress will be made to help make education more accessible to all children in Japan in the future.

Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr

Every day, the effects of poverty take the lives of thousands, with children suffering the most. Chronic poverty makes children more susceptible to disease, hunger, and developmental problems. Here are the most concerning facts about child poverty:

  1. According to the World Bank, more than 400 million children are living in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day).
  2. Roughly 16,000 children die each day—mostly due to preventable or treatable conditions.
  3. UNICEF estimates that over 2 million children ages 10-19 have HIV.
  4. Roughly half of all deaths of children under the age of five are caused by malnutrition.
  5. The International Labor Organization reports that 168 million children are child laborers; many of them in dangerous lines of work, such as factory jobs.

The question then arises, what can be done about child poverty? The good news is that, despite the previous data, progress is being made every day combating this issue. Here are four facts on the fight against child poverty:

  1. According to UNICEF, the mortality rate for children under age 5 has decreased by 53 percent since 1990.
  2. The World Health Organization says the most important element in reducing the mortality rate for children is increasing access to healthcare worldwide, particularly in preventative measures such as vaccines.
  3. Global programs, such as the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), are working to achieve WHO’s goal of increasing access to preventative care. Started in 2010, more than 235 million Africans have been vaccinated against meningitis through MVP.
  4. Ending child poverty can start with an individual. You can donate to an organization working to combat child poverty, and you can do things like contact congress to voice support for increasing foreign aid to causes like this.

The global community has made strides in combatting child poverty, but there is still work to be done to ensure sustainable futures for the world’s youth.

Emily Milakovic

Photo: U.N. Multimedia

Childhood poverty awareness
UNICEF recently released a video showing how people react to children based on the types of clothes they are wearing. The video was in conjunction with the State of the World’s Children Report of 2016, sending a strong message to society about childhood poverty awareness.

The social experiment video that UNICEF released in company with the State of the World’s Children Report of 2016 has sparked an overdue societal reaction. The video has ignited conversations about what can be done to increase childhood poverty awareness.

UNICEF’s message following the video was that the world must invest in poor children before the world becomes more divided and unequal. It is a call to action motivated by a sense of urgency and the conviction that a better world is possible.

In the video, the production team dresses a little girl named Anano in very nice clothes. As she stands alone on the sidewalk, people consistently ask her if she is lost and try to help her. When the production team changes Anano’s appearance, dressing her in scrappy clothes with soot on her face, a drastic change occurs. Looking as if she is stricken by poverty, those passing by ignore her. She is left alone in the street without anyone giving her a second glance.

In the second experiment, the production team has Anano enter a restaurant using the same set-up. When she was dressed in stylish clothing, many customers are very friendly towards her and are willing to entertain her. When her appearance changes, she is greatly ignored. As she walks past tables, women move their purses out of range and suggest that she be taken out of the restaurant. Anano became so upset after this scene that production had to halt the video.

What is clear is the heart-wrenching message that UNICEF is trying to portray with the release of this video. Although reading a report may strike a chord, visual images often evoke stronger reactions.

The emotions that society feels while watching the video are the emotions that UNICEF would like everyone to feel knowing that there are millions of children around the world living in extreme poverty. It is not enough to feel for just Anano; as a society, it is imperative that these reactions are put into actions and are carried out throughout the world.

In the 180 pages of the State of the World’s Children Report of 2016, UNICEF notes that childhood poverty awareness must be increased today in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2030. If these goals are not met, 167 million children will live in extreme poverty by that time. In addition, 69 million children that are now under the age of five will die before 2030 and 60 million children of age to attend primary school will not attend.

The report covers child health, education, poverty and equality. It urges society to strengthen the principles of increasing child poverty awareness by allowing the public to have access to information about the number of children living in poverty. The report also suggests ways to accelerate the processes of investing in equity and creating innovative ways to finance the poorest of the poor.

One disparity that UNICEF reports on is the lack of health providers in poor countries. Sub-Saharan Africa has 1.8 million fewer health workers than its population needs. With women facing a 1-in-36 chance of dying from pregnancy-related complications, UNICEF urges that child survival begins with women’s health.

The report concludes that the futures of millions of impoverished and vulnerable children will be endangered unless the world advances the pace of the developments that are being made in mitigating childhood poverty awareness.

Kimber Kraus

Photo: YouTube

Poverty in Puerto Rico
The United States House of Representatives amended the Puerto Rico debt crisis legislation and passed a bill aimed to reduce child poverty in Puerto Rico.

The legislation received support from both parties and passed in a landslide last Thursday. The voice vote approved the bill at 297-127.

The amendment will now move to the U.S. senate, where it is expected to receive a similar level of support.

Representatives David Jolly and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) were the coauthors of the bill. It is a part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA.

PROMESA is designed to allow the Puerto Rican debt commission to continue its work on a professional survey of the debt plaguing the island.

However, the second part of the amendment requires the territory’s Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth to report any recommended programs or changes to federal law needed to reduce the number of children living in poverty in Puerto Rico.

According to the most recent Community Report of the U.S. Census from 2010, 56 percent of Puerto Rico’s children live below the poverty line. Some estimates are even higher.

The island is also $72 billion in debt. Because of this major debt crisis, the territory has had to close nearly 250 schools and hospitals. The crisis also forced them to lay off many workers.

But it wasn’t just the high poverty rate that motivated this bill. The debt crisis negotiations took on a high level of urgency due to the recent breakout of the mosquito-born virus known as Zika.

The territory may see a significant number of cases of this virus. In addition, the outbreak would likely add to the strain the island is already facing in its public health district. This could lead to an even bigger increase in poverty levels, and it has prompted U.S. policy makers to act.

The executive director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA, Erin LeCompte, was a strong advocate for the amendment.

He said that it was important to design the language of the bill to create a clear set of targets for child poverty reduction. He labeled the amendment as a “moral imperative.”

“Child poverty in Puerto Rico is its own crisis. I’m grateful for such bipartisan support in the House of Representatives to address the high child poverty rates in Puerto Rico. As we reduce the debt we must reduce the 56% child poverty rate on the island,” LeCompte said.

A number of additional religious groups also supported the child poverty reduction amendment. Some of these include the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church of USA, the United Church of Christ, the Union of Reform Judaism and the Church of the Brethren.

Katie Grovatt

Photo: Flickr


In light of Universal Children’s Day on Nov. 20, UNICEF launched its #FightUnfair Twitter campaign to promote children’s right to a safe, educated and healthy life.

“Children make up almost half of the world’s poor, nearly 250 million children live in conflict-torn countries and over 200,000 have risked their lives this year seeking refuge in Europe,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.

The details of life for poor children remain obscure to many and UNICEF has designed a quick and simple way to share child poverty facts. Supporters of the #FightUnfair campaign can click on the Facebook or the Twitter button below the fact they wish to share. In less than ten seconds, the information is available for the world to see.

Celebrities such as Orlando Bloom, Shakira, Ricky Martin and Liam Neeson have joined the campaign, each promoting a different child poverty fact.

“Behind every single number is a child, a boy or a girl much like mine or yours, or our nieces or nephews, or the kids we ourselves once were, who carry exactly the same need–and right–to feel loved, protected and respected,” Ricky Martin told Huffington Post.

Martin has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and avid opposer of child trafficking since 2003.

Fighting unfairness requires more than tweeting facts, which is why UNICEF invited participants to share ideas about ending child poverty. Negative facts tweak consciences, but achievable solutions inspire action.

In addition to the Twitter campaign, UNICEF revealed how to have an informed and persuasive discussion about child rights. Tips include knowing the difference between equality and equity, researching key facts, referencing real stories of real children and refraining from creating an “us” and “them” barrier.

Addressing the needs of children will foster future generations of educated citizens who can break the cycles of poverty.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Do Something, Global Citizen, Huffington Post, UN Brussels, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2                                                                                                                                                Photo: Wikipedia 

For the residents of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital and largest city, it is not uncommon to see clusters of unaccompanied children gathering by coffee shops, theaters and restaurants. Often, they carry rags and polish to make quick money cleaning windshields and shining shoes.

These kids are not only just astray from parents, but have made makeshift homes on the inhospitable tarmac of Mogadishu’s dense urban grid. Sadly, the sight of these street children is just an accustomed part of life in the capital.

These children live their lives in tight competition, sometimes lining up in front of mosques 20 strong to scrub shoes for a mere $0.10 a piece at most. Yet, without any main provider, guardian or parent, it is all they can hope for.

In 2008, estimates placed the total amount number of street children at over 5,000. However, in 2011, Somalia experienced its worst famine in over 60 years, which decimated the livestock and the crops of numerous families. This left many parents without their livelihoods or a means of supporting for their children. Consequentially, more kids flocked to the streets in search of money.

Recent estimates have shown that in just three years, the number of street children in Somalia more than doubled; in 2011, 5,000 had expanded to an excess of 11,000.

This total is only predicted to increase.

Ironically, a Somali bill aimed at ending the recruitment of child soldiers is expected to exasperate the problem; often an unfortunate escape route for impoverished youth, child soldiering keeps children off the street.

While helping to eradicate child soldiering, this bill does nothing to provide former child soldiers with support or assistance that could help them assimilate back into their communities. Many inevitably will end up on the streets.

Escaping child soldiering is just one of many causes that lead children to take to the streets. Some street children simply have no other option but to live on the streets. They may have been abandoned by their family or indeed have no family.

Others may have a home to stay in but spend days and some nights in the streets. Often, this is due to overcrowding in the home or sexual and physical mistreatment. Others still may actually live on the streets with their entire family after losing a home to natural disaster, destitution or conflict.

These various children all share one common issue however; they struggle to obtain even the most basic and due rights. According to a UN report, “In reality, children in street situations are deprived of many of their rights – both before and during their time on the streets – and while on the street, they are more likely to be seen as victims or delinquents than as rights holders.”

Unlike other children their age, street children lack access to basic services such as education, healthcare and are more susceptible to prevalent social and health issues. They experience higher rates of STDs, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, and violence, suicide and traffic accidents.

In 2011, UNICEF conducted a study on street children in Ukraine that produced shocking results. More than a fifth had reported using injected drugs and close to two thirds of girls had experience with prostitution. Only a measly 13 percent used condoms in their casual sexual encounters.

These issues require more government and NGO involvement and the implementation of child protection services. Various countries in disparate regions have all found solutions that provide street children with the rights deprived of them.

In Ethiopia, Somalia’s African neighbor, UNICEF has partnered with the country’s police academy in order to train 36,000 officers about children’s rights and protection. Other countries like Brazil, India and Canada have implemented small scale interventions that provide community based support to those on the streets.

Somalia itself has indicated its desire to expand resources for the street children that crowd its capital. Mohamed Abdullahi Hasan, the Somali minister of youth and sports, told Al Jazeera “We are trying to create centers to house these children. But we have no funds. On many occasions we have been promised funds, but we have not yet seen any.” Until Somalia recovers from its national turmoil, it will struggle to improve the lives of its youngest citizens.

Andrew Logan

Sources: Al Jazeera, The Gaurdian, WHO,, United Nations
Photo: Flickr

On September 2000 at the Millennium Summit, world UN leaders decided to enact the UN Millennium Declaration, a document which asked the world community to meet 8 goals by 2015. As 2015 is upon us, many countries are struggling to meet every goal, but there is no denying that this commitment was a good benchmark for development. Due to the goal’s relative success and the apparent need for more time, many in the international community have begun to developed a new set of goals called sustainable development goals (SDGs), which will allow countries to progress in a mildly regimented fashion. In order to assure world leaders that these goals are being met, the committee has developed a set of indicators which will track different contries’ progression as it rises from poverty.

The first sustainable development goal aims to eradicate extreme poverty—indicated by families who live on less than $1.25 per day—for all people, everywhere, by the year 2030. The proposed indicator for families living in extreme poverty is the percentage of the population living on less than $1.25 a day, disaggregated by the age of the population. This allows the committee and the global community to effectively measure how many children are affected by extreme poverty, and thus take action against it.

Another sustainable development goal will work toward reducing the number of men, women and children living in poverty by any and all of its definitions throughout the world by at least half by 2030. The committee has proposed to indicate this poverty by monitoring the percentage of children (ages 0-17) living below the poverty line and the percentage of children living under multidimensional poverty. This is a lofty goal but there are several task forces and global initiatives that have been enacted to combat this type of poverty.

The global community is finally realizing the importance role children play in world progress. Poverty affects families throughout the world, even in developed countries such as the U.S., where 1 in 8 children go hungry every day. By focusing on children, society is creating a much stronger future; children are the future leaders and decision makers of our world, and by improving their standard of living and providing them with better educations, we can create a world of well-educated, caring individuals.

By introducing child poverty indicators, the global community has created a definitive line, which marks the division between poverty and extreme poverty. In enacting these methods of measurement, it will soon become easier to identify which nations require more assistance and what exactly needs to be done. The sheer existence of such indicators shows the international communities’ heightened awareness of the impact children will have on our societies and the importance of a healthy childhood.

The Millennium Development Goals were the first step in a long path led by the United Nations, and they have helped the global community progress immensely. If we focus on sustainable development and allow society to progress in a ways that benefit everyone, including the environment, we can create a much happier, healthier and caring world.

Sumita Tellakat

Sources: UNICEF, UN Millennium Project


Child poverty in Wales is currently one of the largest issues facing the United Kingdom.

Under the U.K. government’s Child Poverty Act, which was recently scrapped due to poverty levels across the U.K. remaining high, a child is defined as living in poverty when they are “living in a household with an income below 60 percent of the UK average of £453 a week.”

Based on these guidelines, over 2.3 million children across the U.K. are currently living in poverty, or about one in six. With one-third of children living in poverty, Wales currently has the highest child poverty rate in the U.K. outside of the city of London.

In response to these recent figures, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith stated that poverty issues in Wales are “deep rooted,” while a severe lack of public transportation has left communities without access to better jobs.

Wales’ Children’s Commissioner, Professor Sandy Holland, has been an open advocate for reform of the Welsh government’s child poverty programs. Speaking to, she lamented that child poverty statistics in Wales are “unacceptably high.”

“The different life chances for children, whether you’re living in the poorest fifth of society or the richest fifth, they’re really stark and we’ve done nothing in the last eight years to reduce that inequality,” Holland said.

Despite a rise in employment across the U.K. since 2010, poverty in Wales has remained unaffected. Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Sarah Lloyd-Jones, director of Cardiff’s education charity People and Work Unity, says that policy reform is the first big step Wales needs to take to start improving its statistics.

“We have an approach that says we’ll look at basic skills and structures to help people survive in poverty but we need to be more ambitious,” she said. “We need to be saying, ‘Why aren’t we getting engineers out of this community, why aren’t we getting doctors or chemists?’”

– Alexander Jones

Sources: BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV
Photo: BBC