Niños y niñas en América Latina y el Caribe: Panorama 2016

Children in Latin America and the Caribbean - Overview 2016

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End child poverty

© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-00247/Pirozzi

Poverty is transmitted from one generation to another. UNICEF works to break this cycle of intergenerational poverty to give every child a fair start in life.
In the past decade, the Latin American and Caribbean region has experienced significant developments of social indicators, but in spite of this improvements an estimated 69 million children live in poverty. These children mostly live in remote rural areas, and increasingly in peri-urban settings. For indigenous – and Afro descendant children and other excluded and disadvantaged children, such as those living with disabilities, migrant children and children affected by natural disasters and climate change, it is an even bigger challenge to move out of poverty as there are still significant barriers that prevent them benefitting from inclusive and responsive social policies.
Routine multi-dimensional (child) poverty measurement is a requirement for reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals and when using this approach two out of five children are in such condition, meaning that they are deprived of at least one of the following rights: access to safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, education, information and nutrition.
Ensuring that every child is registered at birth, is the first step in securing their recognition before the law and safeguarding their rights to have more of a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty. Non-registered children are at risk of being invisible, denied access to social basic services. Currently, 94% of children of the region have their birth registered. Despite a 12% increase in coverage over the past 10 years, a total 3.2 million boys and girls under 5 years old in the region are still not registered.
Hard-won social gains that have lifted many children out of poverty are at risk and many boys and girls and their families may fall back into poverty if social investment is not sustained. On average, public investment in children in the region stands at only 5% of GDP. The Committee on the Rights of the Child reiterates that prioritizing children’s rights in budgets, at both national and subnational levels, ensure more equitable and inclusive societies as required by the Convention. Investing in children contributes not only to help children survive and develop to their full potential, but also it has a long-lasting positive impacts on future economic growth, sustainable and inclusive development. While there are many efforts in reducing poverty, more than 57 million children benefitted from cash transfer programmes in 23 of the 36 countries in LAC in 2015 which allowed them to obtain increased access to social services and eventually with a chance to move out of poverty.
To ensure that all children can live in a region free of poverty, concerted action is required to move forward with the design and implementation of universal and inclusive social policies and the creation of integral social protection systems. And ensuring that disaggregated data are available for identifying barriers that cause the gaps in coverage, preventing children from exercising their rights. Governments will need to continue efforts in increasing their investment in children which could only be sustained if sufficient income is generated.




- ECLAC (2013)  Social Panorama of Latin America,  Available in: http://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/35904/S2013868_es.pdf?sequence=1 
- UNICEF (2016), Birth Registration in Latin America and the Caribbean: Closing the Gaps, Child Protection Section, Programme Division NYHQ (To be published in October, 2016)
- UNICEF (2016) Children and adolescents investments estimates, Social Policy Area,  Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean  
UNICEF (2016) Uprooted: The growing crises for refugee and migrant children, Available in: https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/childrenonthemove/uprooted/ 
- UNICEF (2016) Social protection estimates, Social Policy Area,  Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean


Last update: September 2016.


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