1.4B children missing out on basic social protection, new data shows

Worldwide, 1.4 billion children aged under 16 lack any form of social protection, leaving them vulnerable to disease, poor nutrition and poverty, according to data released Wednesday by two UN agencies and the British charity Save the Children.

The data was compiled by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children.

In low-income countries, fewer than one in 10 children have access to child benefits, highlighting a significant disparity compared to coverage enjoyed by children in high-income countries.

“Globally, there are 333 million children living in extreme poverty, struggling to survive on less than $2.15 per day, and nearly one billion children living in multidimensional poverty,” said Natalia Winder Rossi, Global Director of Social Policy and Social Protection at UNICEF.

“At the current rate of progress, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ poverty targets are out of reach. This is unacceptable,” she said.

Rossi said ending child poverty is a policy choice made by governments.

Expanding social protection coverage of children in the fight against poverty is critical, including the progressive realisation of universal child benefits, she said.

The groups said child benefits are a vital social protection intended to promote children’s long-term well-being.

Cash or tax credits

They are delivered as cash or tax credits, and child benefits are essential for reducing poverty as well as accessing health care, nutrition, a quality education, water and sanitation.

The benefits also support socio-economic development, particularly in crisis times.

Many children are deprived of the basic resources and services they need to escape poverty and are therefore exposed to the long-lasting impact of hunger, malnutrition and unrealised potential.

The data shows a modest global increase in access to child benefits over 14 years, from 20 percent in 2009 to 28.1 percent in 2023.

However, progress has been unequal. In low-income countries, coverage rates remain staggeringly low, at around 9 percent.

At the same time, 84.6 percent of children in high-income countries are covered.

Coverage rates for children in countries highly vulnerable to climate crisis are a third lower than those in countries not classified as being at high risk.

Ensuring that children are covered by social protection is key to protecting them from the worst impacts of the climate crisis, says the group.



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