At least two-thirds of households with children have lost their income since the COVID-19 pandemic hit two years ago, according to a joint report released Wednesday by the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) and the World Bank.

The report, Impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of households with children, presents the results of data collected in 35 countries and notes that households with three or more children were the most likely to have failed, with more than three-quarters experiencing a reduction in income.

go without food

“Families cannot afford essential food or health services. They cannot afford housing. This is a dire picture, and the poorest households are pushed even deeper into poverty,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, director of UNICEF’s program group.

According to the joint press release, the loss of income has left adults in a quarter of all households with children going a day or more without food.

© UNICEF/Antoine RaabA young girl with her mother at a health center in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia.

Additionally, adults in nearly half of households with children said they skipped a meal themselves for lack of money.

About a quarter of adults living in households with or without children said they had been out of work during the pandemic so far, the report said.

“The modest progress made in recent years in reducing child poverty is at risk of being reversed in all regions of the world. Families have suffered losses on a staggering scale. While inflation hit its highest level in years last year, more than two-thirds of households with children brought in less money,” Wijesekera added.

Preventing a lost decade

According to recent data, the economic crisis generated by COVID-19 threatens to hit children and families the hardest.

The number of children living in multidimensional poverty – without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water – has risen to around 1.2 billion in 2020, while an additional 100 million children are estimated to have fallen into multidimensional poverty by 2021.

Basic deprivation

As the report explains, with children in 40% of households not participating in any form of educational activity while their schools are closed, children are being deprived of essentials.

“Disruptions to education and health care for children, coupled with catastrophic health care spending that affects more than a billion people, could stunt the development of human capital – the levels of education, health and people’s well-being must become productive members of society,” said Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Global Director of Poverty and Equity at the World Bank.

Generations of inequality

The report also notes that before COVID-19, one in six children globally – or 356 million – lived in extreme poverty, where household members struggled to survive on less than $1.90 a day.

More than 40% of children lived in moderate poverty. And nearly a billion children lived in multidimensional poverty in developing countries, a figure that has since increased by 10% due to the pandemic.

Speaking about the lack of human capital development, Ms Sánchez-Páramo added that the current situation “could block the increase in inequality for generations to come, making it less likely that children will outperform their parents or grandparents. parents”.

© UNICEF/Tiatemjen JamirA 17-year-old girl stands in her classroom at school in Nagaland, India.

More social protection

Although households with three or more children are the most likely to suffer a loss of income, they are also the most likely to receive government assistance, with 25% having access to this assistance, compared to 10% of households without children, suggests the report. .

In addition, this helped to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis on assisted households.

In their joint appeal, UNICEF and the World Bank call for a rapid expansion of social protection systems for children and their families.

Support should include the provision of cash transfers and the universalization of family allowances, seen as essential investments that can help lift families out of economic distress and help them prepare for future shocks.

According to the World Bank, since the start of the pandemic, more than 200 countries or territories have introduced thousands of social protection measures, and the Organization has supported countries with approximately $12.5 billion to implement these measures. , reaching nearly one billion people worldwide.

Visit UN News to learn more.