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One in five children lives in poverty

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, November 22
UNICEF’s new Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS), released on November 21, says that every fifth child in Georgia lives under poverty and every sixth child lives under subsistence minimum.

The WMS revealed that despite the increase in families’ consumption, people’s income has not changed, and poor children still have fewer chances to attend educational institutions than their peers living in richer families.

The report is based on data derived from the fourth round of the WMS, which is a biennial longitudinal household survey covering all the government-controlled regions of Georgia.

The results for the 2015 round are nationally representative, with 4.533 households having completed the questionnaire in Georgia.

The study examines the prevalence and distribution of issues such as consumption poverty, material deprivation, subjective poverty and social exclusion, and makes particular reference to the role of social transfers and the well-being of children.

UNICEF's Representative in Georgia, Laila Omar Gad, stated that Georgia is making significant progress in addressing poverty through social transfers, especially pensions and targeted social assistance. However, she added that although the poverty indicators have decreased, children still remain the most vulnerable group.

“Georgia’s social protection system must respond to the vulnerabilities experienced by its people – especially children. Protecting children's rights is more urgent than ever – and a critical key to building stronger, more stable societies. We need to invest more in reaching the most vulnerable children, or pay the price in slower growth, greater inequality, and less stability,” she stressed.

Laila Omar Gad underlined that every child has the right to grow up healthy and strong, to be educated and protected, and to have a fair chance in life.

“In order to combat social exclusion, it is important to develop a multi-sectoral strategy for children’s rights that will envisage stronger social protection, health and education systems to ensure a better life for every child in Georgia,” she added.

The WMS also revealed some major findings regarding poverty rate, which showed that poverty rates are higher in households that have children than those without. Child poverty rates are about 50 per cent higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

Moreover, despite the reduced poverty rate, people’s perception of subjective poverty has worsened. Increased prices, serious illness and a decrease in household income were reported as the main problems faced by people.

Also, the average healthcare expenditure of a household has increased by 31 per cent. The purchase of medicines remains the main component of healthcare spending.

As for the pre-school attendance rate, it has increased from 57.9 per cent in 2013 to 62.3 per cent in 2015.

UNICEF Georgia reports that the presentation of the Welfare Monitoring Study is part of the activities dedicated to the UNICEF’s 70th anniversary.

In Georgia, the celebrations include the literary campaign, Tiny Stories; public discussions; mural painting on the ‘For Every Child, Hope’; competition among the students of the visual art; the major 70th Anniversary event on 12 December including the exhibition of a of children with disabilities, writers reading their stories, children’s para-orchestra, theatrical shows and music.