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Alimatou, (centre) a 9-year-old girl who recently fled violence in the district of Bandiagara with a large number of internally displaced persons for Sévaré .
18 October 2021

Who is affected by child poverty?

It’s not just children who are affected by child poverty.

What do we mean by ‘child poverty’?

Child poverty describes the situation in which a child is raised within an environment that offers them limited, or no, access to essential resources such as food, sanitation, healthcare, and education.

Children growing up in poverty is a global problem, with UNICEF estimating one billion children worldwide are multi-dimensionally poor - without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water. And 356 million children live in extreme poverty - surviving on less than $1.90 (roughly £1.30) a day.

This is an issue that is on our doorstep too. Did you know that 31% of children were living in poverty in the UK in 2019-20? That’s nine pupils in every classroom of 30. And, with the recent pandemic, it’s feared many more young people will be subject to this ill-fate as well.

LEARN MORE: What is child poverty?

Rome's younger sister making use of the newly built bathroom in Uganda

Who is affected by children living in poverty?

The child

The most directly affected by child poverty is the child themselves. With limited access to the resources they need to live a healthy and happy life, they are unable to live up to their God-given potential.

Living in poverty, even for a short period of time, can have a dramatic effect on a child’s life path and cause a wide range of long-term issues which can include financial illiteracy, poor mental health and physical health, repercussions from a lack of formal education, child pregnancy and parenthood at a young age, involvement in gangs or war and much more.

However, it’s not just the children that will be affected by their circumstances. In fact, the negative spread can go a lot further than people think.

Their parents

We often talk about what is called the cycle of poverty, where a person who is born into poverty might struggle to get out of it and pass that poverty on to their own children. For children in poverty who are still living with their parents, it is very likely that everyone is living in poverty and has done so for their whole lives.

We know that most parents want their children to have the best life possible. Many parents who are unable to provide for their children’s needs (even those who are not technically living in poverty) will do what they can. This can mean parents move away from children to bigger towns and cities, or even different countries, with more job opportunities. It can mean they work multiple jobs and find no time for themselves. It can mean that they are physically and mentally unwell from the pressure of trying to lift their family out of poverty.

Their community

Even in countries like the UK, there are communities affected by poverty. These areas may experience higher rates of crime, fewer job opportunities and poorer standards of education compared to wealthier neighbourhoods.

But in lower-income countries, the impact of poverty is more drastic. For example, a community that lacks access to clean water may see many children – usually girls - spending much of their day fetching water instead of being educated. This inevitably limits their future opportunities… and so the cycle of poverty continues.


Equally, a community with minimal medical facilities means hard choices. If they can travel (not always a given) parents may be forced to miss out on work to get their children much-needed medical assistance - or they may decide they have to work and just hope the child improves.

Even for those who do not technically live in poverty, those who still live in these more deprived areas will still be negatively affected by the impact of the poverty around them constrained by overstretched services, lack of skilled workers and limited access to some of the necessities others take for granted.


It’s impossible to know the impact a child will have on the world throughout their life. Most people living in the UK have heard the inspiring news about footballer Marcus Rashford MBE. He campaigned for free school meals to be extended through the holidays during lockdown to help struggling families.

Rashford is an avid activist because of his own childhood experiences. His single mother worked multiple jobs to put food on the table, often not eating herself. However, now he has risen out of poverty and has created positive change in the UK, a change that’s affected many people.

Imagine if every child born into this world was able to live up to their fullest potential. Imagine how much positive change each one of them could bring if only given the right opportunities.

So many children in the world are not able to fulfil their God-given potential due to the situation they’re born in to, and lack of support. These youngsters could grow up to become doctors, teachers, nurses, scientists and advocates campaigning for the people who need it most.

How to help children living in poverty in 2021

At World Vision, we work globally to help the world’s most vulnerable and poorest children rise out of poverty. With our child-focused, community-led, faith-based projects we look to address the root causes of child poverty and inequality around the world and also help children who have succumb to emergencies and humanitarian crises.

When we speak to children we’re helping out of poverty, their most common response is that they want to go to school - because they want to be a teacher – or a doctor – when they grow up, so they can help their community.

If you want to help children in poverty, there are many ways you can get involved.

Learn more