Families in Latin America and the Caribbean are still struggling to recover from the pandemic

UNICEF survey finds half of households with children in the region are putting less food on their plates.

18 October 2022
Familia con niño y bebé
UNICEF/UN0217792/Bindra

PANAMA CITY, 17 October 2022 – Three years on, many families in Latin America and the Caribbean are still struggling to bounce back from the pandemic, according to a regional survey conducted by UNICEF. During the pandemic, half of households with children in Latin America and the Eastern Caribbean reduced food portion sizes for adults, and one in ten reduced portion sizes for children.  

Families are not only eating smaller portions but also skipping meals. In the survey, 15 per cent of households with children reported eating less than three meals per day, up from 8 per cent in 2019, before the pandemic.  

“The shock of the pandemic is far from over. Many parents are still struggling to recover the jobs they lost during the pandemic and can’t afford to put enough food on their children’s plates. The most vulnerable families haven’t bounced back, putting children’s health and wellbeing at risk,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Regional Director a.i. for Latin America and the Caribbean.  

According to the survey, just 60 per cent of adults in households with children are working, down from 67 per cent before the pandemic. For many the work is precarious: 37 per cent of households with children rely on informal income.  

While the most vulnerable families’ needs persist, the survey found that just 24 per cent of households with children currently receive some form of government support, down from 43 per cent in 2020. Food, employment, and medical attention are the main demands of families.  

“Families in Latin America and the Caribbean have been hit several times, not just by the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19, but also by rising inflation due to the crisis in Ukraine. Without support, even more families will be pushed into poverty.  Children must be at the heart of national social protection policies, to help them and their families recover and thrive,” Abdel-Jelil added. 

UNICEF calls on governments to continue investing in children and giving their families the support they need to reduce the lifelong effects of poverty. 

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Media contacts

Sendai Zea
Communication Specialist (Emergencies)
UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507 6821 0843

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