UNICEF is concerned about rapidly increasing child poverty because of COVID-19
The poverty rate in Ukraine is expected to increase significantly in 2020 due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 6.3 million more people falling into poverty of whom 1.4 million will be children. This is a conservative scenario prepared based on the recent official macroeconomic forecast by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
The analysis indicates that absolute poverty is likely to increase from 27 per cent to 44 per cent. The impact on child poverty is estimated to be even larger: the expected rise is from 33 per cent to 51 per cent.
UNICEF is concerned that economic deterioration will have the most devastating impact on the following vulnerable groups: households with many children, single parents, households with children below 3 years of age and single pensioners above 65.
As child poverty and vulnerability of families is increasing dramatically, UNICEF calls upon the President, Parliament, Government and all local governments to take urgent, adequate and effective measures to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 on child poverty.
Despite the constraints faced by the state budget and sub-national budgets, addressing child poverty should become an ultimate priority, otherwise long-term development problems for the whole country are unavoidable. These will take many forms including, but not limited to, increased placement of children in residential institutions, outmigration, reduced health and economic outcomes and overall delays in child development.
“We should do our utmost to mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID on children and families. The future of millions of children in Ukraine depends on the Government's commitment to support the most vulnerable. We must ensure that COVID-19 does not limit children’s access to healthy nutrition, education, and decent living conditions,” says Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
UNICEF stresses that it is crucial to develop short- and long-term social protection strategies. As an immediate measure, UNICEF is proposing considering the possibility of temporary universal payments to all households with children.
As a mid-term measure, it is necessary to actively utilize the existing social protection programmes, particularly to increase the monthly payments within the universal child-birth grant.
International experience shows that combining cash transfers with locally driven social services is a strategy of the most successful systems. For this to happen, the number of front-line social workers should be significantly increased.
In these challenging days UNICEF is deploying its available resources to support Ukrainian children and families and refocusing its existing programs on COVID response. This assistance varies from delivery of medical and protection supplies to hospital to strategic communication, from support to distance learning to building capacities of frontier workers of health, education and social protection among others.
UNICEF commends the Ukrainian authorities for the social protection steps they have already taken, and will continue working with them to further strengthen the system of social protection in Ukraine.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.