Hundreds of millions of families in low-and-middle income countries did not receive any child and family-specific benefits from their governments to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new analysis from Save the Children.
Millions of families have been pushed over the brink of poverty since the start of the outbreak as parents lost work, impacting children’s access to healthcare, education, food and housing.
Save the Children analysis found that at least 68 low-and-middle income countries, with a combined child population of 594 million, have not provided any child or family focused financial support.
The analysis comes as Save the Children today launches a new report, A Foundation to End Child Poverty, which highlights the major benefits of social protection, as well as cash and voucher assistance as a means to provide financial support to families in emergencies.
“Millions of families in some of the poorest countries in the world haven’t received any financial support from their governments, leaving many in crippling poverty – unable to afford nutritious food, medicine or other basic necessities,” said Mat Tinkler, Deputy CEO of Save the Children Australia.
“Our report highlights the effectiveness of cash transfers and other financial assistance in emergencies. The evidence is clear – if parents have the means, they will use payments to provide their children with vital health care, schooling and nutritious food.
“Regular cash transfers also stimulate the local economy, while helping break the suffocating cycle of poverty and reducing the prevalence of harmful practices like child marriage and child labour.”
Across the Pacific, it is expected that 2.8 million people will be forced to survive on less than $2 a day as the pandemic plunges a further half a million people into extreme poverty.
Save the Children is calling on Australia to step up its support for the Pacific, including through the provision of such economic support at a household level.
“Most Pacific Island countries have no social protection system to help them get through the pandemic. There is no safety net, no JobKeeper or JobSeeker in the Pacific.”
“We know that cash is an effective tool to deliver immediate support in a safe and dignified way, and we’ve proven they can work at scale.”
“Our Pacific neighbours are in financial peril, and Australia needs to step up and provide this vital support.”
“While the additional $304m for the Pacific COVID-19 response announced in last week’s Budget is welcome, it’s not nearly enough given the scale of the crisis in the Pacific, and the level of deprivation families are facing.”
Save the Children Australia has been calling on the Australian government to develop a ‘Pacific JobKeeper’ type of social protection for families in the Pacific.
For media inquiries contact Anna Jabour on 0403 322 992