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Poverty denies children access to essential services as well as opportunities

More than 1 billion children suffer from one or more extreme forms of deprivation in adequate nutrition, safe drinking water, decent sanitation facilities, health-care services, shelter, education and information. [figure 2.1]

Poverty does not only threaten children by depriving them of the capabilities needed to survive, develop and thrive. It also entrenches or widens social, economic and gender disparities that prevent children from enjoying equal opportunities and undermine protective family and community environments, leaving children vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, violence, discrimination and stigmatization.

Children experience poverty with their hands, minds and hearts. Material poverty - starting the day without a nutritious meal or being forced to engage in hazardous labour - hinders cognitive capacity as well as physical growth.

By limiting their participation in society and inhibiting their potential, poverty not only causes children suffering - it also disempowers them.

Poverty in childhood is a root cause of poverty in adulthood. Impoverished children often grow up to be impoverished parents, who in turn bring up their own children in poverty. In order to break the generational cycle, poverty reduction must begin with children.