COVID-19: Parental income loss, schools closure may force children into begging – NGO

As COVID-19 diseases starts to impact on the economy, Save the Children’s Campaign and Advocacy Director for Africa, Eric Hazard, has raised concern that the loss of parental income and closure of schools may force many children to beg for food.

Hazard in a press statement issued issued on Wednesday in Abuja said parents may also take hazardous jobs to support their families, or families to split up in search of food, leaving children, especially girls alone, unprotected and exposed to violence, abuse, exploitation and at risk of child marriage.

He called on the Local and donor governments and institutions need to act together and commit to stopping the pandemic in Africa and tackle the negative effects of restrictive measures on vulnerable populations’ livelihoods, and in doing so, sustain food security and access to health services, by integrating the needs of the most vulnerable in their response to the COVID-19.

“We’re extremely concerned that mounting financial pressures on families will increase food insecurity in communities already struggling to know where their next meal is coming from , which in turn will have a devastating impact on children. We know through experience that when families lose their incomes and have no social safety net, children become vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

He said though, Governments in the region are focusing on limiting the spread of the COVID-19 with increased restrictions, however, these measures disproportionately impact the poorest households, who depend on the informal economy for their already fragile livelihoods. 

He said across the continent, unlike in many parts of the world, social security coverage in Africa is extremely limited or non-existent and largely confined to workers in the formal economy and their families. 

“According to the International Labour Organisation, only 17.8 per cent of Africans receive at least one social protection cash benefit, and only about 10 per cent of the economically active population is covered by social security schemes. 

“Children and their families across Africa have already been struggling through a decade of climate shocks and regular food crisis, which have driven numbers of hunger crises across the continent. 

“Save the Children is warning that as markets close and movement is restricted, many households will have less income to meet their basic needs, including food and fuel for cooking,” he said.

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