As we start to celebrate the lasting progress in tackling poverty around the world for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October), we are bringing attention to children, who have been so often missed from poverty debates.
Here are 7 facts that galvanize UNICEF and partners to take action to end child poverty:
1.Today 1 billion less people live on extreme poverty than 25 years ago
The world has been extraordinarily successful in tackling extreme poverty. Between 1990 and 2015, more than a billion people moved out of extreme poverty, achieving the first Millennium Development Goal. Despite this progress, the work to end poverty is far from over and many challenges remain.
2. Children account for half of the world’s extreme poor
There are 736 million people living below the extreme poverty line in 2015 – this is 1 in 10 people in the world. Many are kids. The latest estimates tell us that half of those living in extreme poverty are children. It is still shocking that children bear the brunt of global poverty. If we want to end poverty one day, we need to focus on them.
3. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 247 million children are deprived of their basic rights
Child poverty is about more than just money – it’s multidimensional. For children, poverty means being deprived in crucial aspects of their lives such as nutrition, health, water, education or shelter. UNICEF estimates that 2 in 3 children across 30 sub-Saharan countries suffer from two or more deprivations of their rights.
4. 1 in 5 children are living in poverty in the world’s richest countries
Children are affected by poverty in rich countries too. In 2017, an estimated 25 percent of children were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the European Union, revealing that child poverty is a universal challenge that requires a global response.
5. In almost every country in the world, children are more likely to live in poverty than adults
Whether using the extreme poverty line, or the Multidimensional Poverty Index, data tells us children are more likely to live in poverty than other groups. Ending child poverty is a challenge in many countries around the world and one of the world’s most urgent tasks.
6. Only half of all countries in the world have updated child poverty data
Data is the basis for ending child poverty. Our analysis tells us that only around half of all countries have data on child poverty, and this is often infrequently produced and reported. We now have a unique opportunity to change this as we start to monitor the newly agreed SDGs.
7. Only one-third of children are covered by social protection
Social protection programmes have demonstrated long-lasting benefits for many families and children living in poverty. Yet, the vast majority of children still lack access to social protection. To end child poverty, we must ensure all children have access to social protection programmes such as child grants.
We now have a huge opportunity to change these facts, and support efforts to end child poverty. Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for an end to poverty in all its dimensions, aiming to address child poverty for the very first time.
But to achieve this goal we must also remember those who are still left behind, including the many children around the world that are living in poverty. You can learn more about the faces of child poverty around the world here and how countries can better measure child poverty as part of the SDGs.
UNICEF will be among those within the development community, working with a coalition of partners, focusing on ending child poverty as part of the SDGs. See our join statement, Towards the End of Child Poverty.
I hope these facts will inspire others to take action and decide to join us in the fight to end child poverty starting today.
Antonio Franco Garcia is a Social Policy Officer at UNICEF. Follow him on Twitter @AntonioFranco__
- World Bank (2018), Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle. Washington, DC: World Bank. (Fact 1,2);
- UNICEF and the World Bank Group (2016), Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children, Briefing Note, October 2016. (Fact 2)
- UNICEF (2016), The State of the World’s Children 2016: A fair chance for every child, New York, 2016. (Facts 3,6)
- de Milliano, M and Plavgo, I (2014), Analysing child poverty and deprivation in sub-Saharan Africa. Innocenti Working Papers 2014-19. UNICEF Office of Research, (Fact 3);
- Eurostat, Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Data extracted in January 2019. (Fact 4);
- UNICEF Office of Research (2017), ‘Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries’, Innocenti Report Card 14, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Florence. (Fact 4);
- Newhouse, David, Pablo Suarez-Becerra, Martin C. Evans, and Data for Goals Group. 2016. “New Estimates of Extreme Poverty for Children.” Policy Research Working Paper 7845, World Bank, Washington, DC. (Fact 5);
- Vaz, A (2014). ‘Are children the poorest?’. OPHI Briefing Note. (Fact 5);
- Internal analysis by UNICEF Social Inclusion for 2015 Annual Results Report. (Fact 6)
- ILO-UNICEF (2019) Towards universal social protection for children: Achieving SDG 1.3, Joint Report on Social Protection for Children. (Fact 7)