UNICEF, ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT HOLD SPECIAL SESSION ON CHILD POVERTY
YEREVAN, 21 May 2010 – Out of over 900,000 children in Armenia 26 percent are living on less than 2.7 USD a day, while 3 percent of them live on even less than 1.8 USD a day, says a UNICEF supported report on child poverty launched today at a special session of the Armenian parliament.
The report “Child Poverty in Armenia: Analysis of the 2008 Integrated Living Conditions Survey” prepared by a team of experts from the University of York demonstrates that total child poverty rates in Armenia are higher than those for the general population.
Although there has been some progress in reducing child poverty and the total child poverty rates went down from 38 percent in 2004 to 27 percent in 2007, recent global economic and financial crisis has reverted the positive dynamics and pushed many families and their children back into poverty.
“Tackling child poverty is not something that can wait until fiscal circumstances are seen as accommodating. Investments in combating child poverty will not only protect children from the adverse effects of poverty and provide opportunities for their development, which is a moral imperative, but will also break the intergenerational cycle of poverty that threatens human development and economic growth,” UNICEF Representative in Armenia Laylee Moshiri said in her address to a group of parliamentarians, senior governmental officials, representatives of UN agencies, international and local non-governmental organisations.
Presenting findings of the report, Professor Jonathan Bradshaw of the University of York, who oversaw the report preparation process, proposed to consider a possibility of re-orienting social protection expenditure towards more efficient models.
“Models such as Universal Child Benefit are successfully applied in most Western European countries. Our analysis has shown that if a monthly benefit of 5,000 AMD (US $13) is available for all children this would reduce total child poverty rates from the current 26 percent down to 10 percent,” Professor Bradshaw stressed.
Answering a question how much funds would it require to apply the Universal Child Benefit as compared to the currently existing Family Benefit Scheme, Professor Bradshaw said that according to UNICEF calculations, the annual budget required today to provide family benefits to all poor families which are not currently covered by the Family Benefit Scheme stands at around 141 million USD which is the same required to cover all children aged 0-18 years. “The difference is that the first option requires a considerable amount of human resources and bureaucratic procedures, while the second doesn’t,” Professor Bradshaw emphasized.
The parliamentary session on child poverty initiated by UNICEF marks the beginning of a dialogue and a process to identify the best and most effective policy and investment models to alleviate child poverty and to secure a better future for children of Armenia.
UNICEF established its presence in Armenia in 1994. UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to meet their full potential.
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