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UNICEF study provides new insight into how poverty affects children

Child Poverty in East Asia and the Pacific
Children in East Asia & Pacific region face multiple deprivations

BANGKOK/KUALA LUMPUR, 22 November 2011 – A new UNICEF report on child poverty in East Asia and the Pacific urges policy makers to look beyond family income indicators to gain a more complete picture of poverty and the deprivations children face, since poverty affects children in different ways than adults.

“The thorough analysis presented in these national studies will help countries target programs and policies to better reach the most vulnerable in society and to use resources most efficiently,” said Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific.

Titled “Child Poverty in East Asia and the Pacific: Deprivations and Disparities”, the Report reviews child poverty studies carried out in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam from 2007 to 2010. The seven countries were among 53 worldwide that participated in UNICEF’s Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparity, which draws attention to the daily deprivations suffered by children and their negative impact on national development.

Effects of family poverty

Analysing the situation of over 93 million children living in these seven East Asia and Pacific countries, the report found over 30 million suffered from at least one form of severe deprivation, such as the inability to go to school, or access basic health care, safe drinking water, a sanitary toilet or adequate nutrition – and more than 13 million suffered from two or more forms of severe deprivation.

Amongst others, the Report highlighted that family poverty often affects children most directly through their access to shelter, food, water, sanitation, education, health and information. When a child is deprived of one or more of these essential services, their experience of poverty deepens. Gaps between rural and urban areas, different ethnic groups, geographic areas, and households headed by well-educated versus poorly educated adults were among the most notable disparities across the seven countries.

According to the report, much more needs to be done to reduce the disparities that impede the development of large numbers of children in East Asia and the Pacific as inequity is rampant, with income inequality either remaining stagnant or increasing in all seven countries despite significant GDP growth over much of the last decade.

Child sensitive social protection

"The study demonstrates that income gains, including in middle income countries in the region, have not necessarily translated into gains for all children,” said Mahesh Patel, UNICEF Regional Advisor for Social Policy. “Any national equity and disparity reduction policy must start with child poverty reduction at its centre.”

Deprivations and disparities faced by children must feature prominently in national development and poverty alleviation plans in the region and inform how resources are allocated. Child-sensitive social protection policies that address the needs of the most vulnerable children will also be essential to reducing the deprivations children face in the region. 

“Clearly the challenge now facing us in East Asia and the Pacific is to address the additional dimensions of child poverty revealed in this study, building on, but going beyond the foundation of economic growth in the region,” Ms. Rao Singh said.


For more information, please contact:

Madeline Eisner
UNICEF Media Regional Office
Tel + 662 356 9406,

Indra Kumari Nadchatram
UNICEF Media Malaysia
Tel +6012 292 6872,





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