Need for rapid expansion of social protection systems

We live in a world where fake news is spread

Dr. Gyan Pathak

Even two years after the pandemic and support for its response to enable people to survive, millions of families around the world “still cannot afford essential food or health services” because they have been pushed deeper into poverty, according to a new joint report by UNICEF and the World Bank while urging countries around the world to rapidly expand social protection systems and support children and their families, a a call which is most significant for India as it is greatly affected and is moving towards winning the label of home for the largest number of new poor in the world.

It is also worth recalling that India and Nigeria are among the most affected countries among the group of middle-income countries, the region which could house around 80% of the new poor, according to the latest data from the World Bank. There are also other concerns, such as climate change which has posed a particularly acute threat to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia – the region where most of the world’s poor are concentrated. India has the largest share of poor people due to its large population and is more likely to retain this status as it would become the most populous country in the world by 2027.

The report “Impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of households with children” indicates that two-thirds of households with children have lost income during the pandemic. The loss of income has left adults in a quarter of all households in the situation where children go a day or more without food. Additionally, adults in nearly half of households with children reported skipping a meal themselves due to lack of money. So far, about a quarter of adults in households with or without children said they had been out of work during the pandemic.

According to recent data, the report says, the economic crisis generated by the pandemic 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. In about 40% of households, children were even deprived of the essentials, as they did not participate in educational activities at home and that their schools were closed.

Even before the pandemic, one in six children worldwide – 356 million – lived in extreme poverty, where households struggled to survive on less than $1.9 a day. At that time, 40% of children lived in moderate poverty and nearly one billion children lived in multidimensional poverty in developing countries, a figure that has since increased by 10% due to the pandemic.

Commenting on the situation on the ground, UNICEF Program Group Director Sanjay Wijesekera said, “Families cannot afford to buy essential food or health services. They cannot afford housing. This is a dire picture, and the poorest households are being pushed even deeper into poverty… The modest progress made in reducing child poverty in recent years is at risk of being reversed in all regions of the world… families suffered losses on a staggering scale. … Inflation has reached its highest level in years.

“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 for Poverty and Equity at the World Bank. She warned that the current situation “could lock increasing inequality for future generations, making it less likely that children will outperform their parents or grandparents.”

India must take these remarks seriously, as it has already been reported in another ICE360 survey, that the incomes of the poorest 20% of households plunged by 53% in the pandemic year 2020-21 compared to at their 2015-16 levels. The bottom 20% lost 32% of their income and the bottom 20% suffered an erosion of 9% of their income. Oxfam’s report titled “Inequality Kills” also said that the incomes of 84% of Indian households fell in 2021 and that more than 4.6 crore Indians would have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020, and as close half of the new world population. poor would have lived in India according to a United Nations estimate.

These make it clear that many people who had barely escaped extreme poverty before March 2020, when the pandemic broke out, could have been pushed back into it. A World Bank report indicates that the “new poor” are likely to be more urban than the chronic poor, be more engaged in informal services and manufacturing and less in agriculture, and live in congested urban environments and work in sectors most affected by closures and mobility restrictions. (API Service)

Joel C. Hicks