Country and regional highlights

Child poverty and disparities

The following publications and links include lessons-learned, models and helpful information on child poverty and disparities from around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
No other region has been through such dramatic changes. Within a few years of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, what were formerly eight countries splintered into 27. More than 400 million people have had to adapt to a transformed political, economic and social landscape.  In this region four countries are participating in the Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities, they are Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The National Study on Child Poverty and Disparities in Kyrgyzstan emphasizes the need for child poverty to be addressed, and a comprehensive approach to monitoring and evaluating child well-being in Kyrgyzstan to be developed. A first step in that direction is the development of a Child Poverty and Deprivation Index which is introduced in the report. This index shows clearly the large regional disparities in the country, the highest value of the index in 2007 was reported in the capital of Bishkek (75.1%), which is significantly higher than those for other provinces, such as Batken (62.1%).

East Asia and the Pacific
In the East Asia and Pacific region eight countries are participating in the Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities; they are Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam.

Viet Nam
In Viet Nam UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the General Statistic Office in the development of a country-specific multidimensional child poverty measurement tool, which incorporates the following eight domains of poverty: education; nutrition; health; shelter; water and sanitation; child labour; leisure; social inclusion and protection. A child is considered to be living in poverty if his/her needs are unmet in at least two out of the eight poverty domains. Using this new approach, significantly more children are identified as poor compared to the current approach used in Viet Nam, which relies on monetary measures of poverty. Some of the preliminary results of the Viet Nam child poverty study demonstrate that the poverty rate (based on expenditure for living) of Vietnam has gone down dramatically from 37.4% in 1998 to nearly 14.8% in 2007. However, big challenges remain, in particular in the area of nutrition. The study reveals that the ratio of malnourished children aged under 5 is 35.8% (moderate stunting rate). Vietnam currently has 1.6 million and 2.6 million under 5 children being underweight and stunting, respectively. Vietnam is striving to reduce the ratio of malnourished children to 20% by 2010 and 15% by 2015.

Eastern and Southern Africa
In this region seven countries are participating in the Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities, Burundi, Lesotho, Madagascar, Indian Ocean Islands (Mauritius, Comoros, La Reunion, Seychelles), Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The Childhood Poverty in Tanzania: Deprivation and Disparities in Child Well-Being report shows that the incidence and impact of poverty on children is far greater than indicated by conventional income-consumption measures, especially in rural areas. Almost half of all children in rural Tanzania (48%) suffered three or more severe deprivations of basic need compared with 10% of children in urban areas.  The vast majority (86%) of children in the lowest wealth quintile suffered three or more severe deprivations compared with less than 1% of children in the highest wealth quintile.

Latin America and the Caribbean
In Latin America and the Caribbean one in five children lives in conditions of extreme poverty, that is a total of 32 million children. UNICEF has joined the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to carry out the “Child poverty, inequality and citizenship in Latin America and the Caribbean” study, which is the first comparative study on child poverty in the region. The objective of the study is to promote inclusive, universal and efficient public policies for children and adolescents. With half the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean considered middle income countries, a true reflection of how well services are being delivered, and rights protected, at the local level is critical to monitoring the well-being of children. In coordination with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and other UN agencies, a challenge for UNICEF in the region is the development of a reliable system to gather pertinent information from sub-national level, which would better reflect the social realities and disparities and the Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities is a step towards such a development. Five countries from the region are participating in this Study, they are Bolivia, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico and Nicaragua.

The “Child poverty, inequality and citizenship in Latin America and the Caribbean” study reveals that measuring child poverty from a rights perspective as well as in terms of household income provides a more precise definition of their needs and the public policies required to eradicate poverty in the region.

Middle East and North Africa
From the Middle East and North Africa region, Djibouti, Egypt, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Republic of Yemen are participating in the Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities.

The Child Poverty and Disparities in Egypt: Building the Social Infrastructures for Egypt’s Future study is the first comprehensive study in Egypt which focuses on both poverty and childhood and was in early 2010.  The eight dimensions of poverty considered in the study (income, shelter, food, education, information, health, sanitation, water) are interrelated and interdependent. Deprivation of one right is likely to affect a child’s ability to enjoy other rights. The study reveals that one in four Egyptian children (more than seven million) live deprived of one or more of their rights to be children and enjoy their childhood. Around 1.2 million children live in absolute poverty, which means they are deprived of two or more rights. Read the report in English or Arabic.

South Asia
Of the 600 million children and young people in South Asia, a third live in poverty – more than anywhere else in the world. Social policy is critical for children because their developmental needs are urgent. If they do not receive a quality education, they are more vulnerable to child labour, exploitation, abuse, trafficking, and likely to remain trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty that will easily extend to their own children. Read more about UNICEF's work in social policy in South Asia on the website.

All countries of the South Asia region are participating in the Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

The Bangladesh Child Poverty Study report demonstrates that 33 million children in Bangladesh - about half of all Bangladeshi children - are living in poverty while about one in four children is deprived of at least four basic needs among the following: food, education, health, information, shelter, water and sanitation. In Bangladesh, children (0-17 years) constitute 44% of the total population i.e., 142 million in 2006. One out of every six children is a working child (more than seven million children across the country). Read the report.

West and Central Africa
In the West and Central Africa region all of the participating countries have completed or are in the final stages of completing their Child Poverty and Disparities Studies, as part of the Global initiative led by UNICEF. The participating countries are Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Congo DR, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Democratic Republic of Congo
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, UNICEF initiated this Study to support the Government's efforts to improve social well being with particular attention to the situation of children and to break the cycle of intergenerational transmission of poverty. The Study seeksto ensure that the priority needs of children are routinely considered in the allocation of resources and the development of poverty alleviation programmes by strengthening the capacity of decision makers and the general public to identify and fill gaps in current strategies. Read the report.

In Ghana the majority attempts to examine poverty in the country have targeted the general population without specifically looking at what happens to children. The Child Poverty Study in Ghana aims to break this pattern by looking specifically at child poverty in Ghana.  Read the report.

This Child Poverty and Disparities Study In Mali offers a unique opportunity to simultaneously combine several methods of measuring poverty to better understand the holistic dimensions of poverty. The study offers a snapshot of the state of children in Mali, of the deprivation and disparities children face in terms of nutrition, education, access to basic health services, access to water and housing. Read the report.

Republic of Congo
This Child Poverty and Disparities Study in the Republic of Congo, which complements an earlier World Bank study, analyzes multidimensional, non-monetary poverty, particularly access to basic social services for children and women. This innovative approach allows the assessment of the relative risk of poverty for children and women. The study highlights the extent of children living below the poverty line — 54% against 47% for adults — a fact largely unknown to date and concludes that children and women have a higher risk of poverty than men. Read the report.

The study seeks to raise awareness of policies and programmes that support more effectively the rights of all children, boys and girls, in Senegal.  A major finding of the study is that education is an effective means of eliminating medium-term (10 years) deprivations that impede the development of children and is a priority for the Government. Read the report.



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Country and regional highlights