Every third child in the world is poor: UN

Children are more prone to poverty than adults across the world

By Richard Mahapatra
Published: Friday 12 July 2019
Photo: Getty Images

Hardly 10 years are left to meet the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) one — to eliminate poverty in all its forms. The world has a tough challenge ahead: How to fix poverty among children?

One in every three children (under the age of 10) is multidimensionally poor in the world, according to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) recently.

But, if one categorises the poor below the age of 18, every second child is poor.

“Children under 18 bear the greatest burden of multidimensional poverty,” the report stated.

MPI measures progress against the SDG-1. Usually poverty is measured by the level of income. But MPI uses multiple indicators to judge the overall development of population. That is why the index is called multidimensional.

It measures progress in 100 countries, covering a population of 5.7 billion, based on 10 indicators that include health, education and standard of living.

Of more than half of 1.3 billion people identified as poor, some 663 million are children under 18 and around one-third (some 428 million) are under 10. The survey included 2 billion children, out of which 1.1 billion are below 10 years.

About 34 per cent of the world’s children covered under MPI survey are multidimensionally poor. For the adult this comes to 17.5 per cent. Children are more prone to multidimensional poverty than adults, according to MPI.

“One adult in six is multidimensionally poor — compared with one child in three,” it added.

But multidimensionally poor children are concentrated more in the Sub-Saharan Africa and the South Asia. These two regions account for 85 per cent of multidimensionally poor population of the world.  

“Some 63.5 per cent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa are multidimensionally poor — the highest incidence among all developing regions,” according to the report. In African countries such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Niger and South Sudan 90 per cent or more children under the 10 are considered to be multidimensionally poor.

The MPI took note of inequality and social deprivation at household levels. It found in South Asia 22.7 per cent of children under 5 experience intra-household inequalities and are deprived in nutrition. It means in a household, at least one child is malnourished while another/others are not.

“In Pakistan over a third of children under 5 experience such intra-household inequality,” the report found. “To fight poverty, one needs to know where poor people live. They are not evenly spread across a country, not even within a household,” said Achim Steiner, the administrator of UNDP.

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