Unicef Logo and the text: Children Under Threat. The State of The World's Children 2005.

Paula Bronstein

Press Release

Key Facts: Poverty

Over half the children in the developing world live without basic goods and services.

  • One is six children is severely hungry; one in seven has no health care at all; one in five has no safe water and one in three has no toilet or sanitation facilities at home.
  • Over 640 million children live in dwellings with mud floors or extreme overcrowding; and over 300 million children have no TV, radio, telephone or newspaper.
  • Over 120 million children are shut out of primary schools, the majority of them girls.

Poverty undercuts a family or community's capacity to care for children. Globally:

  • 180 million children work in the worst forms of child labour.
  • 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
  • 2 million children, mostly girls, are exploited in the sex industry.

Children living in rural areas are twice as likely to be deprived of goods and services, and three times as likely not to attend school, as their peers in urban areas.

Income-poverty measures do not adequately explain how children experience poverty. India and Senegal have similar levels of per-capita income but Indian children are more at risk of malnutrition while Senegalese children are more at risk of losing out on schooling.

Despite an expanding global economy, in come inequalities have grown both across and within countries. In developing countries, children of families in the poorest quintile are more than twice as likely to die before age five as children in the richest quintile.

Economic sanctions can have devastating effects on children. Under-five mortality rates more than doubled in Iraq , from 50 per 1,000 in 1990, to 125 per 1,000 in 2002. In Haiti, acute malnutrition rose from 3.4 per cent in 1990 to 7.8 per cent in 1994-95, and school enrolment fell from 83 per cent in 1990 to 57 per cent in 1994.

Child poverty has risen notably in richer countries. Only four developed countries – Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States – have fewer children living in low-income households than in the late 1980s. In 2000, only Finland, Norway and Sweden had child poverty rates below 5 per cent.

Also in this section

Picture of a child


A child carrying water

The Convention on the Rights of the Child [Web]

A World Fit for Children [PDF]

Human rights for children and women: How UNICEF helps make them a reality [PDF]

Implementation Handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child -
Fully Revised Edition

Building a World Fit for Children [PDF]

We the children [PDF]

“Abandoned and destitute…children devoid of all the basic necessities in life are taken advantage of... they are exploited at the hands of people in numerous ways leaving them scared, helpless and vulnerable.
girl, 19, UAE

Log on to www.unicef.org/voy

Approximate lowest possible cost of generic antiretroviral therapy for one year: $300

Per capita annual income in Mozambique: $210

Per cent of people in developing countries who need antiretroviral therapy but do not have access to it: 93
© UNICEF 2004