Child poverty

Every day millions of families in extreme poverty struggle to survive. And when the unexpected happens – if food prices go up or the harvest fails – it’s children who are most vulnerable. We’re working in the poorest parts of the world to help the families in greatest need improve their livelihoods.

Ahmad carries water in a Kolkata slum

Seven-year-old Ahmad carries water through the slum where he lives in Kolkata, India.

In 2015, we helped 716,000 children to escape extreme poverty.


The impact of child poverty can be devastating – and it lasts a lifetime.

The poorest children are most at risk of disease, malnutrition and stunting. They’re more likely to miss out on school, or get a poor quality education. And there’s a greater chance they’ll suffer early marriage, physical violence or child labour.

This inequality must end. Our work with the most disadvantaged families shows that extreme child poverty isn’t inevitable. And now governments are recognising this too.

In 2015, more than 160 global leaders signed up to 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a set of targets that could end hunger, extreme poverty and preventable child deaths by 2030. We’re doing everything we can to make sure they deliver – alongside UNICEF, we’re chairing a new Global Coalition to End Child Poverty.

Find out more

Eight-year-old Naima in Bangladesh.

Eight-year-old Naima's family have benefited from our livelihoods programme in Bangladesh.

Naima’s mum, Jasmine, used to have to miss meals so that her two children could eat. They live in one of the poorest and most hard-to-reach areas of Bangladesh, where many families struggle to get by.

We gave Naima’s parents a small grant to help them build a sustainable business. Now, her dad has set up his own garage, and the whole family’s standard of living has improved.

“We knew we could help ourselves if we were just given a head start.” Jasmine says. “Now we all eat three meals a day and sometimes we can even afford milk.”

They’ve been able to improve their home too, replacing the leaking roof and installing solar panels. “We’re so happy we have this as it means our children can study properly and get the best possible education,” Jasmine says.


Until this stops, we won't rest


How big is the problem of child poverty?

Around the world: 

  • 569 million children and young people live on less than $1.25 a day – that’s 47% of all those living in extreme poverty.
  • 5.9 million children die each year – most in the world’s poorest communities, and from diseases that could have been prevented.
  • 78% the poorest people live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

What we’re doing to help children

Our programmes are designed to ensure maximum impact for children. Below are just a few of the things were doing.

Ethiopia: As part of a programme to support 10,000 of the most vulnerable families, we’re training people to grow vegetables and farm livestock to increase their income. We’re also helping them form saving groups and access small finance initiatives.

Cost of the Diet: Our innovative tool can be used in any country to estimate the combination and cost of the local foods required to provide a nutritious diet, and to identify where help is needed.

Yemen: Working across three districts, we’re improving food security by training young men and women in skills that will help them find employment and offering food vouchers in exchange for community work.

Bangladesh: In partnership with the Bangladesh government and others, we’re tackling childhood stunting by changing the way nutrition services are delivered and helping people develop sustainable livelihoods. We’re also supporting mothers and young children in 191,000 vulnerable households.

Lebanon: Alongside five other NGOs, we’re giving cash assistance to help the most vulnerable Syrian refugee families afford food and essential items. The monthly payments will reach around 154,000 people.



Last updated March 2017.