The state of many developing countries in Africa is no secret. Africa has been deadlocked in extreme poverty for an extended period of time. However, recent trends have shown that the poverty situation worldwide is slowly improving. Despite these various improvements, much more can be accomplished in the poverty-stricken continent of Africa. African children in particular are still mired in terrible situations, causing quite a predicament. While every life is worth saving in Africa, the lives of the children are crucial to the future of developing countries.

The issues have abundantly mounted to oppose healthy children in Africa. Lack of suitable food plays a major role. The world in general produces enough food to feed these children, yet they have no access to a consistent food supply. The key to eradicating the hunger crisis is providing an outlet for starving people in Africa and other poverty-stricken locations worldwide.

However, food is not the only major problem for African children. Other issues, such as slavery, armed forces participation, and the inability to prevent disease all stake a claim to the death toll of African children.

Learn more about poverty in Africa.

An estimated 200,000 children are sold into slavery yearly in Africa. This has become a major problem for developing countries–how can a country grow and learn if the children are routinely captured and used as slaves? Without any children learning and growing in a safe environment, the developing countries do not have much hope for a productive future, instead they are mired in the darkness that child slavery provides.

Not only is child slavery a major issue but children being forced to participate in the armed forces also causes another dilemma. An estimated 12,000 children are participating in the armed forces, further halting the advancement of African economies. The children are being trained and deployed in military situations instead of learning and cultivating the land, leaving fewer able bodies and even fewer educated people to grow and produce for their country.

Child participation in armed forces and slavery are major hindrances to furthering child development. However, the problem of disease also runs rampant among the children. Measles, malaria, and diarrhea are the three biggest killers of children, yet all three are preventable or treatable. Children lack access to proper treatments and vaccinations, resulting in deaths that could have been prevented. If these children could be immunized or properly treated, the number of deaths would exponentially drop.

The high mortality rate of children in Africa plays a significant role in the African poverty situation. The deaths related to child slavery, child participation in armed forces, and treatable diseases can be reversed. These problems can be solved; they require continued aid from outside help, but also a stand to fight for the lives of children. Without growing children, there is no growth for the future.

– Zachary Wright

Sources: CARE, Fight Poverty Pravda, Pravda
Photo: The Telegraph


The social ramifications of growing up poor often go greatly unnoticed in the developed world. While there is a slew of nonprofit groups and community outreach efforts that tackle child poverty in Great Britain and United States and other similar nations , the sociocultural scarring that poverty can leave on someone can remain hidden and affect the life of a child for the long term. This scarring is born from stigma and an inability to change circumstances, and according to The Guardian, is causing a form of social apartheid in Britain.

Citing a report to be released sometime in the last week of August 2013 by the British nonprofit National Children’s Bureau (NCB), The Guardian contends that nearly 2 million more British children are extremely poor today than in 1969. The report is entitled “Born to Fail?,” and takes the name of the previous report filed in 1969 by Peter Wedge and Hilary Prosser. While positive strides have been made, poverty-stricken children are still more susceptible to accidents in the home, are socially disadvantaged, and more likely to be obese.

Dr. Hilary Emery for the National Children’s Bureau contends makes the distinction that the widening gap between rich and poor is causing a form of social apartheid and that a lack of ambition is to blame. This scourge is comparable, in Dr. Emery’s eyes, to similar issues in other developed nations. The Born to Fail? report contends that many lives would be saved and many less children would suffer from obesity and other health problems should Britain adopt the methods used by other European nations.

The NCB is the charity leader in Great Britain for advancing and enhancing the lives of children there, with a commitment to the most under-served child populations. They undertake major, evidenced-based projects like the Born to Fail? report each year. Their ambitious, 6-point goal to be realized by 2015 is to reduce inequalities of opportunity in childhood through research and advocacy, provide a louder public voice for the rights of children, improve perceptions of young people, enhance their learning experiences and opportunities, promote positive family structures for kids, and to lead the public policy discussion of the aforementioned matters.

Another report from The Guardian by John Milbank hints that the solution to child poverty, ending social stigmas and inequality may live in Christianity. Milbank posits that even with the best attempts by the state, no one will be truly equal. However, the Christian school of thought demands absolute equality for all. The answer isn’t necessarily policy related but must be a cultural shift toward making poor children and all children a societal priority and ensure that they are cared for.

Perhaps Milbank is onto something, because there is independent evidence to support his contentions. Economics professors Rajeev Dehejia of Tufts University, Thomas DeLeire from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Erzo Luttmer and Josh Mitchell from Harvard University collaborated on a paper called “The Role of Religious and Social Organizations in the Lives of Disadvantaged Youth.” Their findings suggest that the families of poor children who joined churches and other religious groups specifically ward off the affects of their circumstance better than those families who didn’t attend. Simply put, going to church can help alleviate child poverty.

Detractors of religious services can point to a myriad of factors that can place these findings in a negative light. What can’t be ignored however, are the results and the effect of the community fostered by religious groups. Born To Fail?, in it’s current incarnation, hinted that a societal shift must be made if child poverty is to truly end, not additional national policy. Perhaps churches and religious groups, providing a holistic and binding sense of community are an example for greater society to follow. The numbers don’t lie.

– David Smith
Sources: The Guardian, The Guardian: Poverty Church Holistic Solution, Freakanomics

Since the end of the war in 1999, the Republic of Kosovo has experienced consistent economic growth. Now a lower-middle-income country, it is one of only four countries in Europe that recorded positive growth rates during the economic crisis between 2008-2012, averaging about 4.5% each year. Despite its rapid growth, Kosovo continues to struggle with high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Joblessness is estimated to be at about 40% and remains a central economic-policy challenge. Youth and women are disproportionately affected by the difficult labor market conditions, creating an environment that undermines the country’s social fabric. Kosovo is one of the poorest countries in Europe with a per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about €2,700 and about one-third of the population living below the poverty line and approximately one-eighth living in extreme poverty.

Recent studies by UNICEF Kosovo showed that children are at higher risk of living in poverty in Kosovo compared to the general population. The greatest risk of poverty is for children who live in households with three or more children, children between 0 and 14 years of age, children of unemployed parents, children in households receiving social assistance, and children with low levels of education. Whereas, the risk of poverty is much lower for children in a household with at least one employed parent.

The European Union is mainstreaming an effort to fight child poverty by  recognizing the multi-dimensional nature of the issue. Child poverty and exclusion have high social and individual costs. Children in poverty are at high risks of low educational attainment, poor health, and an inability to find work later in life. Investing in children, therefore, is important not only for the well being of current children living in poverty, but also for the health, productivity, and engagement of future adult citizens.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, however only 98 of a total 193 UN member states have recognized Kosovo’s independence. The lack of agreement remains a central obstacle to achieving the country’s goals for political integration and socio-economic development.

To help reverse joblessness and build a long-term economic growth plan, the World Bank, along with ten other donors, recently awarded Kosove 61 million Euros, mostly in the form of grant money. The Sustainable Employment Development Policy Program (SEDPP) funds were disbursed from the end of 2011 to the middle of 2012. The funds have supported reforms and improved transparency throughout many sectors in the country.

– Ali Warlich

Sources: World Bank, UNICEF, World Bank
Photo: SOS Children’s Villages

Child Poverty in the United States
Today, when most people think of poverty they do not think of nations like the United States and the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, these two countries face serious problems regarding child poverty. Up to 20% of children in the U.S. live in poverty, while the United Kingdom faces some of the world’s highest child poverty rates. In spite of being two of the world’s wealthiest nations, both nations are struggling to address the causes of child poverty.


Leading Causes of Child Poverty


Of the many root causes of child poverty, most sources point to an absence of one parent, particularly the father, as having the greatest impact on a child’s future. In the U.K., 23% of children in two parent families live in poverty, while over 40% of children in single parent households fall into the same category. As women generally earn less in the same professions as men, children in single parent households where the father is absent face an even higher rate of poverty.

Children living with only their mother are

  • 5 times more likely to live in poverty
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 37% more likely to abuse drugs
  • 2 times more likely to be incarcerated
  • 2.5 times more likely to become a teen parent
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 32 times more likely to run away

Ethnicity has also been linked to higher child poverty rates in both the U.S. and the U.K. Part of the reason for the correlation between ethnicity and child poverty in the U.S. is due to the level of crime in minority communities. Not only are families in these communities more likely to be the victims of crime, but they are also more likely to have a parent, more often the father, incarcerated than families in areas with less crime. A child whose father has been incarcerated is five to seven times more likely to be incarcerated in their lifetime.

Although unemployment is a major contributor to child poverty, it is not the only problem. In any economy, poor adults often find they are forced to take dead-end jobs, without advancement opportunities, while middle management and other placements are given to college graduates whose families could afford higher education. In these situations, the wage-earning adult from a poor family is only offered part-time work or the position they currently occupy pays too low a salary and the family suffers.

Clearly, the issues related to child poverty are not limited only to less developed nations. Indeed, child poverty rates are surprisingly high in the world’s most developed nations, including the U.S. and the U.K. If we are unable to address these issues in our own countries, how are we to act as role models for the rest of the world?

– Herman Watson

Sources: Child Poverty Action Group, The Future of Children, Fight Poverty, The Guardian, Barnardo’s

Child poverty is a multifaceted issue whose impacts are far-reaching and pervasive. While adults may fall into poverty for a period of time, children in poverty are often trapped forever. Seldom are they able to start anew because their poverty that lasts a lifetime. Furthermore the depths of child poverty often lead to greater entrenchment in social inequality. Thus governments and individuals must commit to understanding and tackling global child poverty.
Child Poverty is real and it is poses a threat to millions of children. Here are 5 key facts about child poverty.

  1. According to UNICEF, 1 billion children are living in poverty throughout the world. Of these children, 121 million are out of education and 22,000 die due to poverty each day.
  2. 30% of the children in developing nations live on less than $1 a day. Of this 30%, 270 million children have no access to health care services.
  3. The result of this dangerous poverty is extreme malnourishment. 27-28% of all children in developing countries are underweight or stunted in growth. In 2011 alone, 165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted due to hunger and starvation.
  4. Child poverty does not only affect developing nations. In a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United States ranks 34th amongst 35 countries examined for child poverty rates. In fact more than one in five American children live below the poverty line today.
  5. Sadly, the Millennium Development goal to halve the proportion of underweight children will not be reached if current trends continue. The mark will be missed by 30 million children due in large part to slow progress in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Though these facts are bleak, the truth is that child poverty can be fought. For example, in the year 2000 it would have cost an estimated $6 billion a year to place every child in school. Though the cost may have fluctuated since then, such a seemingly large amount was only a tiny fraction of how much the world spent on weapons alone. Eliminating child poverty is indeed a feasible goal.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: Global Issues, UNICEF, Do Something, The Washington Post
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Though poverty is measured according to dimensions that include mortality, morbidity, hunger, sickness, illiteracy, homelessness and powerlessness, these measures do not fully encompass the conditions of children living in poverty. Rarely differentiated from poverty in general, child poverty affects individuals at the most crucial stage of their lives, hindering not only their physical development but also their emotional development. Listed below are five statistics about child poverty.

  1. 1 billion children – more than half of those living in developing countries – suffer from one or more forms of severe deprivation, according to a study performed by the University of Bristol and the London School of Economics. Every second child suffers from deprivation of at least one of the following: nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation, health, shelter, education and information. Furthermore, deprivation in one area often causes deprivation in another area – an estimated 700 million children suffer from two or more deprivations.
  2. 180 million children are currently engaged in child labor. Material deprivation often forces desperate children, including those subjected to war, orphaned or weakened by a condition such as HIV/AIDS, into dangerous forms of labor in order to support themselves and their families. Once engaged in child labor, children are deprived of an education and regularly abused. Many of them do not survive until adulthood.
  3. Roughly 1.2 children fall victim to human trafficking each year, and more than 2 million children are sexually exploited in the commercial sex industry each year. Material deprivation leads children to search for additional sources of income, and traffickers capitalize upon their vulnerability. Exploitation exacerbates conditions of poverty, preventing children from attending school and further deteriorating their mental and physical health.
  4. 400 million children (1 in 5) lack access to safe water, and 640 million (1 in 3) live without adequate shelter. Each year 1.4 million children die because of unsafe drinking water or inadequate sanitation.
  5. 22,000 children under the age of five die each day as a result of poverty, amounting to more than 8 million deaths per year.

– Katie Bandera

Sources: UNICEF Global Issues
Photo: Flickr

Countries with High Rates of Child Poverty
3. Romania

After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Romania struggled economically. Farmers were especially vulnerable, and the impact of the USSR’s collapse is evident today in the status of Romania’s children. Children in rural areas are exceptionally poor, often not receiving the nutrition needed to maintain good health. This results in many physical problems that are left untreated. Many children in rural areas are also deprived of an education.

2. The United States
Yes, you read that correctly. The United States is second place among the developed countries of the world in the percentage of children below the poverty line. This shocking number is due to the stark income equality in America. UNICEF’s research reveals that American children are more likely to fall below the poverty line than children in any other developed country due to the growing wealth gap in the United States.

1. Bulgaria
The Southern European nation of Bulgaria is the developed nation with the highest child poverty rate in the world. Plagued by increasingly low wages and high utility prices, the children of Bulgaria are suffering in families that can no longer afford to put food on the table. The unemployment rate reached 10% in the last year, inciting a wave of protests that threaten the stability of the country. Several desperate Bulgarians, unable to feed their families, have resorted to self-immolation in dramatic protest to get the government to implement changes.

– Josh Forgét

Source: The World Bank, The Washington Post, The Economist
Photo: Press TV