Indonesia: Children and Adolescents Disproportionately Impacted by the Economic Fallout from COVID-19 – UNICEF and BKF

New study highlights the effects of the pandemic on child poverty and the potential of social protection measures aimed at mitigating their impact

17 March 2021
Rini Ratikasari reads to her 3-year-old daughter Fika
Rini Ratikasari reads to her 3-year-old daughter Fika in front of a newly constructed toilet in their home in Tegaldowo village, Central Java province, Indonesia.

JAKARTA, 17 March 2021 – More children and adolescents have fallen into poverty than any other age group as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF and the Fiscal Policy Agency (BKF) said today. These findings are based on a joint study estimating the situation of child poverty during the pandemic.

The study Impact of COVID-19 on Child Poverty and Mobility in Indonesia highlights that while the shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected people of all ages, children and adolescents have been hit especially hard by reduced household incomes and the inability of their families to improve their economic status. Children under the age of 18 represent about 33 per cent of Indonesia’s population, but nearly 40 per cent of the new people who fell under the poverty line in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Hidayat Amir, Director of the Center for Macroeconomic Policy of BKF, said, “The analysis shows the importance of expanding fiscal space for child-focused social protection in 2021 and beyond to alleviate child poverty across the country. It is also an opportunity to tap into Indonesia’s demographic dividend and in line with the President’s priority to invest in human capital.”

The study shows that the emergency expansion of child-focused programmes such as the Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH) conditional cash transfer scheme and the Kartu Sembako food assistance programme contributed to preventing 1.3 million children from falling into poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The study also suggests that rolling back these emergency measures now would lead to a rise in child poverty – bringing an estimated 2.1 million children under the poverty line in 2021.

Targeting the most vulnerable households has been a challenge, given that the households eligible to receive financial support are selected based on data from Indonesia’s beneficiary registry (Data Terpadu Kesejahteraan Sosial/DTKS), which only references the bottom 40 per cent of the population,” said Pak Maliki, Director of Poverty, BAPPENAS. “As a result, many newly vulnerable families, such as those affected by COVID-19, are missing out.”

A more comprehensive registry should include people already living in poverty as well as those who are plunged into poverty during emergency. A universal database such as the one proposed by President Joko Widodo in January 2021, as part of the Agenda for Social Protection Reform would meet this goal. Such a database allows vulnerable children and families to be reached more easily and quickly during emergencies. 

"The Government’s emergency social protection response has provided a vital safety net for children during COVID-19,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Robert Gass. “Now is the time to develop a longer-term vision for social protection,  in line with the President’s mandate for social protection reform. Social protection programmes with a child focus must be expanded and improved so that all children are fully supported during times of crisis.”

Media contacts

Kinanti Pinta Karana
Communications Specialist
UNICEF Indonesia
Tel: +62 8158805842

Additional resources

Eni holds her 2-year-old son in the kitchen
Eni, 19, holds her 2-year-old son in the kitchen in front of a newly constructed toilet in their home in Tlogopakis village, Central Java province, Indonesia.
Policy Brief: The impact of COVID-19 on child poverty and mobility in Indonesia


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