Two boys carrying relief supplies

Child poverty around the world remains one of the most pressing issues we face as a global society. A full 333 million children currently live in extreme poverty, according to the most recent information gathered by the World Bank. That number is roughly equal to the estimated entire population of the United States in 2023.

Extreme poverty is defined as the inability to meet even the most basic human needs such as food, shelter, education, and healthcare. It perpetuates a cycle that is almost impossible to escape without outside intervention. And, it often leads to a lifetime of deprivation, marginalization, and hardship.

In this blog post, we’ll shed light on the issue of child poverty, its complexities, and underlying causes. We’ll discuss the profound effects it has on children’s lives. We’ll also demonstrate how Outreach International’s interventions at the community level are such an effective methodology for permanently breaking the cycle of child poverty.

What is Child Poverty?

Child poverty refers to the condition where children are deprived of the resources they need to grow into adults who are healthy, educated, and able to independently sustain their well-being. The child poverty rate serves as an indicator of the well-being of the society in which that child lives. This reflects the extent to which that society’s most vulnerable citizens are experiencing extreme hardship. This is a subset of the more general definition of poverty. According to the World Bank, global poverty is measured by using relative poverty lines based on regional economies. The most recent data has set the extreme poverty levels around the world at $2.15, $3.65, and $6.86 per day, in equivalent U.S. dollars.

Schoolchildren in Cambodia receive solar lamps to study at night and lift themselves out of poverty

Outreach Project: In Cambodia, 160 children receive solar lamps, allowing them to study at night in homes that lack electricity.

What causes Child Poverty?

Child poverty is a complex and multifaceted issue with various underlying causes. Economic factors such as a lack of job opportunities, low wages, and inadequate social safety nets contribute directly to the risk of extreme poverty for children and families. In addition to that, social issues play a part, such as gender, ethnicity, race, and geography. Each of these factors in combination can exacerbate the economic and social problems that marginalized people continuously face. In regions of the world such as Africa, child poverty rates are particularly high. This is because complex socio-economic challenges are often at their most extreme. Poverty in Africa is often inseparable from issues such as political instability, lack of access to education and healthcare, lack of adequate infrastructure, and environmental factors.

How Growing Up in Poverty Echoes into Adult Life

If a child grows up in poverty, it can be nearly impossible to escape poverty in adulthood. The disadvantages that cause hardship persist because those suffering from them can find it impossible to solve these issues alone. This leads to children who grow into adults who then must raise the next generation of children in poverty. This intergenerational issue, the cycle of poverty, describes how economic disadvantage passes down from one generation to the next. It creates barriers to social mobility and the perpetuation of inequality and marginalization. Breaking the cycle of poverty is exceptionally challenging for a family that must spend all their time struggling each day to meet even their most basic needs. Outreach International provides support, education, and resources that equip communities to break this generational cycle and create sustainable pathways out of poverty.

Child poverty leads to inadequate healthcare, so this Outreach community opened a child clinic.

Outreach Project: In Malawi, community leaders celebrate the opening of a newly constructed clinic for children and expecting mothers.

The State of Child Poverty Worldwide: Statistics and Facts

According to the World Bank, some progress has been made in reducing child poverty from 2013 through 2022.

  • The extreme child poverty rate declined from 20.7% to 15.9%. This means that 49.2 million children were lifted above the extreme poverty threshold during that time.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic posed substantial unforeseen challenges that disrupted efforts to continue this positive trend. And even with the progress that has been made, the need for renewed efforts persists:

  • 333 million children are living in extreme poverty around the world, surviving on less than $2.15 per day.
  • 829 million children are living below the $3.65 poverty line.
  • 1.43 billion children are living below the $6.85 poverty line.
  • Children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty. They comprise more than 50% of those living in extreme poverty around the world. This remains true despite the fact that children comprise only 31% of the world’s population.

These facts underscore the urgent need for interventions by experts to address the root causes of this issue and break the cycle to ensure the well-being of young people everywhere.

The Profound Impact of Poverty on Children

The effects of poverty on children’s development are profound and far-reaching. Economic hardship limits children’s access to adequate nutrition, housing, and education. This compromises their physical health, cognitive development, and emotional well-being. Adults who grew up in inadequate conditions are more likely to endure chronic stress, suffer developmental delays, and experience education disparity, all of which perpetuate the cycle of poverty for the next generation. Addressing these issues requires the holistic approach taken by Outreach International. This methodology prioritizes education, healthcare, social development and protection, and economic empowerment all together to ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow into adulthood with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Greenhouses in Bolivia fight child poverty by providing nutrition and income in harsh growing conditions.

Outreach Project: In Bolivia, a newly built greenhouse brings a nutritious harvest in harsh growing conditions.

How to Fight Against Child Poverty

Outreach International is at the forefront of the fight to end child poverty. We work with local communities across the world to show people that they have the power within themselves to forge a path to prosperity. When community leaders identify issues with education, healthcare, and economic development, they can begin to act as their own agents of change and forge a path for themselves and their children that can be sustained into the future.

Though there has been significant progress in the fight against extreme child poverty around the world, this most serious issue remains a pressing global challenge that we must continue to address. People who have made the most of their own opportunities must act together to support our world’s most vulnerable citizens. Outreach International takes action every day to fight global child poverty, identifying underlying issues, understanding the root causes and profound effects on children’s lives, and helping community groups implement strategies for change. Every child deserves the opportunity to live a life of fulfillment and dignity.

How to Help

You can be a part of the solution to child poverty by donating to Outreach International. Our community-led development interventions help people to improve their economic potential, education, healthcare, infrastructure, and so much more. Help Outreach break the cycle of child poverty and create a brighter future for children everywhere.