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Over 330 million children worldwide living in extreme poverty

UNICEF and the World Bank released a new analysis today, estimating that a total of 333 million children globally live in extreme poverty

By Ground report
New Update
Over 330 million children worldwide living in extreme poverty

UNICEF and the World Bank released a new analysis today, estimating that a total of 333 million children globally live in extreme poverty – or 1 in 6.

According to International Poverty Lines, the Global Trends in Child Monetary Poverty, which for the first time looks at trends in extreme child poverty, discovered that the number of children living on less than US$2.15 a day decreased from 383 million to 333 million (or 13 per cent) between 2013 and 2022. However, the economic impact of COVID-19 caused three lost years of progress, resulting in 30 million fewer children than projected in the absence of COVID-19-related disruptions.

SDG child poverty goal unlikely met

The analysis warns that, at current rates of reduction, global leaders will not meet the SDG goal of ending extreme child poverty by 2030. The analysis was released ahead of the High-level Week of the United Nations General Assembly (18 – 22 September), when global leaders will, among other things, meet to discuss the mid-point of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said, "Seven years ago, the world made a promise to end extreme child poverty by 2030. We have made progress, showing that with the right investments and will, there is a way to lift millions of children out of what is often a vicious cycle of poverty."

COVID-19, conflict, climate change, and economic shocks have compounded, stalling progress and leaving millions of children in extreme poverty. Millions of children cannot be failed now. Policymakers must redouble efforts to ensure that all children have access to essential services, including education, nutrition, health care, and social protection, while addressing the root causes of extreme poverty.

According to the report, Sub-Saharan Africa carries the highest burden of children living in extreme poverty at 40 percent. This region has also experienced the largest increase in the last decade, with the percentage rising from 54.8 percent in 2013 to 71.1 percent in 2022.

Rapid population growth, limited social protection measures, and challenging global trends such as COVID-19, conflict, and climate-related disasters result in the steep increase. Only the Middle East and North Africa regions have not seen a steady decline in extreme poverty rates.

Majority Children in extreme poverty

Children comprise more than 50 percent of the extreme poor globally, despite making up only a third of the global population. Children are more likely to inhabit extremely poor households that lack the necessary resources for survival and overall well-being, including food, sanitation, shelter, healthcare, and education, compared to adults, with 15.8 percent of children residing in such households compared to 6.6 percent of adults.

World Bank Global Director for Poverty and Equity Luis-Felipe Lopez-Calva said, "333 million children living in extreme poverty -- deprived not only of basic needs but also dignity, opportunity or hope -- is simply intolerable."

“It is more critical than ever that all children have a clear pathway out of poverty – through equitable access to quality education, nutrition, health, and social protection, as well as safety and security. This report should be a stark reminder that we have no time to lose in the fight against poverty and inequality, and that children must be foremost in our efforts.”

The most vulnerable children – such as those living in rural settings and children living in households where the head has little or no education – are significantly more affected by extreme poverty. According to the report, an estimated 1 in 3 children in countries affected by conflict and fragility live in extremely poor households, compared to 1 in 10 in non-fragile states.


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