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A woman and her child are photographed in a slum in Ghaziabad, India in March 2017.
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1 in 6 Children Worldwide Currently Lives in Extreme Poverty: UNICEF


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Around the world, millions of children do not have access to clean water, food security, or safe shelter and are living in extreme poverty. The United Nations' Global Goal 1 is to end extreme poverty by 2030, and the UN calls on nations to better protect vulnerable children. You can join us and take action on this issue here

One in every six children globally lives in extreme poverty, with 84% of the world's extremely poor children living in either sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, according to a new report released Tuesday. 

Global Estimate of Children in Monetary Poverty: An Updatepublished by the World Bank and UNICEF, analyzes the number of children living in extreme poverty by geographic region, income group, and whether they reside in a fragile or conflict-affected country. With this data, the two organizations hope to continue to monitor progress toward the UN's Global Goal to end extreme poverty by 2030.

“One in six children living in extreme poverty is one in six children struggling to survive,” UNICEF Director of Programs Sanjay Wijesekera told UN News

“These numbers alone should shock anyone. And the scale and depth of what we know about the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic are only set to make matters far worse,” Wijesekerva continued. “Governments urgently need a children’s recovery plan to prevent countless more children and their families from reaching levels of poverty unseen for many, many years.” 

The report found that children are more at risk of living in poverty compared to adults. As of 2017, which is the most recent data the report covers, 17.5% of children — about 356 million — were living in a household that makes under $1.90 per day, compared to 7.5% of adults.

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While children make up a third of the global population, around half of the world’s total population living in extreme poverty are children. Younger children are the most vulnerable, with nearly 20% of children under 5 years old in the developing world living in extreme poverty. 

Since 2013, the number of children living in extreme poverty has dropped from 19.5% to 17.5%, while the number of adults has dropped from 9.3% to 7.5%.


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Even though child poverty has been on the decline globally, the number of children struggling to survive in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 170 million in 2013 to 234 million in 2017

Out of all the world’s children living in extreme poverty, 2 in 3 live in sub-Saharan Africa. The report notes that since Somalia and Eritrea were not included in the analysis, those numbers might even be higher. 

Children affected by conflict are also disproportionately affected — 40% of children in conflict-affected countries live in extreme poverty. 

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is also threatening to push more children into extreme poverty, as school closures and economic recessions put them at risk of child labor and child marriage

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Since the report pertains to data collected in 2017, it does not yet account for the pandemic's effects on child poverty. The World Bank recently confirmed that extreme poverty rates overall are on the rise for the first time in 20 years

“It is likely that the estimates of child poverty presented here will worsen as a result of COVID-19’s adverse impact on income generation and food security,” the report says.