Brazil has 32 mi kids in poverty, Unicef survey says

Most severely affected are black and indigenous people

Published on 18/02/2023 - 14:23 By Paula Laboissière - Brasília

At least 32 million Brazilian boys and girls live in poverty. The number represents 63 percent of all children and adolescents in the country and covers several dimensions of the problem. In addition to income, drivers such as food, education, child labor, housing, water, sanitation, and access to information were considered as major indicators in the research.

The data can be found in a study entitled As Múltiplas Dimensões da Pobreza na Infância e na Adolescência no Brasil (“The Multiple Dimensions of Poverty in Childhood and Adolescence in Brazil”), released this week by the United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef.

The survey presents data up to 2019 on child labor, housing, water, sanitation, and information; up to 2021 on income and food; and up to 2022 on education. “At a time when the country’s president, vice president, ministers, governors, senators, and representatives are starting new mandates, Unicef underscores the urgency of prioritizing public policies with sufficient resources aimed at children and adolescents across the country,” the text reads.

Figures reveal a grim landscape. The last year for which data are available for all eight indicators is 2019—when there were 32 million girls and boys aged up to 17 deprived of one or more rights. For the following years, numbers are only available for income, food, and education. All three have worsened.

In 2021, children and adolescents living in families with income below the extreme poverty line (less than $1.9 a day) reached the highest percentage in the last 5 years: 16.1 percent, compared to 13.8 percent in 2017. Kids deprived of the income necessary for adequate nutrition surged from 9.8 million in 2020 to 13.7 million in 2021—a leap of nearly 40 percent. In education, after years on the wane, the illiteracy rate doubled from 2020 to 2022, going from 1.9 to 3.8 percent.

“Multidimensional poverty made a more significant impact on those already living in a vulnerable situation—black and indigenous people and people living in the North and Northeast of Brazil—making inequalities in the country worse. Of black and indigenous kids, 72.5 percent faced multidimensional poverty in 2019, versus 49.2 percent of white and yellow people. Among states, six had more than 90 percent of children and adolescents in multidimensional poverty, all in the North and Northeast.”

Unicef’s guidelines for the nation include prioritizing investment in social policies, education, school attendance, and literacy; expanding services and benefits directed at the most vulnerable children and adolescents; strengthening the drive to reinforce Brazil’s child protection legislation; promoting food security for kids and pregnant people, and addressing the water and sanitation agenda.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Fernando Fraga

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