Zim child poverty reaches alarming levels

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POVERTY has reached unprecedented levels in Zimbabwe, with more than 76 percent of children in rural areas living in abject poverty, a Unicef study has said.

This comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) Zimbabwe recently appealed for US$250 million to boost food assistance in the country, warning that 8,6 million people would be facing starvation by December 2020.
The report, compiled by Unicef and the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency,  indicated high levels of privation in rural areas for the year 2019, as 76,3 percent of children were living in abject poverty while 20 percent of children in urban areas were also living under the same conditions.
“An important distinguishing feature of child poverty is that children in rural Zimbabwe are far more likely to be poor than those in urban areas.
“The poverty gap and poverty severity indices suggest that rural poverty is deeper and much more severe than urban poverty.
“In particular, the poverty severity index shows a very high degree of inequality among the poor in rural areas, whereas in urban Zimbabwe, the index of poverty severity is relatively low.
“Provincial differences in poverty by rural or urban residence are also important.
“In Manicaland, for example, rural children are more than twice as likely, 80 percent versus 29,3 percent, to be poor as children in the province’s urban areas,” reads the report.
The report further indicates that child poverty was more prevalent in Mashonaland Central with 85,9 percent, followed by Manicaland Province with 80,4 percent, Matabeleland North with 79,2 percent, Midlands 77,9 and Mashonaland West with 77,7.
 “By all money-metric measures examined here, Mashonaland Central suffers from the worst rural child poverty of all Zimbabwean provinces nearly 86 percent of children in rural Mashonaland Central Province live in a poor household, and more than 60 percent are in a household where monthly consumption expenditure is lower than the food poverty line.
“In the current situation of restricted government resources and limited ability to effect transfers or to invest in broad social protection programmes, it is essential that pro-poor resources be used effectively and that means investing in areas or sectors that will help the poor and targeting assistance on places where child poverty is most acute,” reads the report.
The report added that in both rural and urban areas, household size and structure were closely related to child poverty.
“Households with few members tend to have a low child poverty prevalence compared to larger households, and the prevalence of poverty increases over the entire range of household size
“Very large households are far more likely to be poor, even in rural areas, where the largest households, eight or more members, are about twice as likely to be poor as the smallest households,” reads the report.7

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