UNICEF advocates for greater national investment in social protection and supports government efforts to track and monitor progress on poverty reduction
Child poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon and can be measured in many ways. It is imperative that governments make a commitment to reducing child poverty. Recognizing and responding to child poverty is a priority, alongside building expertise and improving approaches to child poverty measurement.
Fully understanding child poverty is vital. While an adult may fall into poverty temporarily, falling into poverty in childhood can last a lifetime: a child rarely has a second chance at education or a healthy start to life. As such, child poverty not only threatens the individual child but also is likely to be passed on to future generations, entrenching and even exacerbating inequality in society.
Despite sustained improvements in income and living standards in recent years, child poverty remains prevalent in Tajikistan. According to the official national definition of poverty maintained by State Agency for Statistics, the proportion of children living in poor households fell from 38 per cent in 2013 to 34 per cent in 2016.
The poverty rate remains higher among children than among adults in Tajikistan because households with more children are at greater risk of poverty.
Growing income from employment has been the most important driving force behind reductions in poverty in recent years. Remittances have also played a lead role. Gowever in aggregate income from abroad has only begun to recover recently from a steep downturn in 2015 and 2016.
The role of social programmes, and especially targeted social assistance, in poverty reduction has been reducing between 2012 and 2016, as the cost of living has risen more quickly than benefit levels.
Poor households with many children tend to spend a larger share of the household budget on food. Due to large seasonal fluctuations in incomes, in Tajikistan many households and children fall below the poverty line during the winter and early spring, when on average they also consume a smaller number of calories,. Khatlon oblast contains the largest number of poor children, while the Districts of Republican Subordination oblast suffers the highest child poverty rate. The poverty rate is much lower in urban areas of Tajikistan, while poverty rates are substantially higher in the rural areas where most of the population lives.
UNICEF is working to fully understand how and where children are experiencing poverty, to allow a more nuanced set of policy responses in national mechanisms such as poverty reduction strategies. It is supporting the Government to develop and strengthen its social protection programmes and policies, and advocating for child- and gender-sensitive social protection programmes.
UNICEF is committed to providing technical and financial assistance to national governments and counterparts in the development of integrated social protection strategies.
UNICEF Tajikistan is supporting the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population to transform selected Social Assistance at Home Units into Centres for Social Service Provision. To address the issues facing children affected by migration, UNICEF is focusing on strengthening local referral mechanisms to ensure that cases of violence, neglect, exploitation and abuse are effectively managed. There is a focus on preventing children from migration-affected families being placed in institutions. Representatives of child protection institutions are being trained to provide psychological and emotional support to families of labour migrants, particularly women. UNICEF ensures that children with undetermined nationality or who are at risk of statelessness are provided with support to access legal assistance and obtain citizenship.