Almost half of Argentina’s children are currently living in poverty, according to the latest report published by the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA).
According to the university’s Social Debt Observatory, an estimated 48.1 percent of children are poor, while 17.6 percent are malnourished, with 8.5 percent are living in hunger in 2017. This means that almost one in five children reduced their diet in the past 12 months due to economic problems. Children of underemployed workers who live in the suburbs of Buenos Aires City or shantytowns were those who faced the highest risks.
The data refers to statistics from the end of last year. But the figure could continue to grow into the first semester of 2018, experts warned, as the effects of the devaluation, inflation, tariffs, and a fall in purchasing power have yet to take full effect.
The recent devalution of the peso has started to affect prices in all aspects of the economy. Beverages and foodstuffs, for example, registered increases of up to four percent in costs in June. These products are the most sensitive items in the consumer price index, as their increase will indirectly affect the basic food basket, how poverty levels are measured in the country.
In another study released by the INDEC national statistics bureau, analysts found the increasing cost of the basic food basket is already starting to affect the nation’s workers. An estimated 60 percent of employees and 40 percent of households weren’t able to cover the cost of the basic food basket in the first quarter of the year, according to the Evolution of the Distribution of Income INDEC report. Six out of every ten wage earners, about 8.3 million people, earn between 15,000 and 16,200 pesos in Argentina, the bureau reported, while the basic food basket last March costs 17,868 pesos per month.
The UCA poverty study gathers data from surveys conducted in at least 5,700 people in regions with more than 80,000 people, which evaluates inequalities associated with the rights of children, and data concerning healthcare, nutrition, housing, substance, child welfare, and socialisation.
Out of those values, nutrition, housing and health were the areas that reported the worst numbers. An estimated 50 percent of Argentine children are only able to access healthcare via public hospitals. Two out of 10 children haven’t had a medical appointment in the past year, while four out of every 10 children between four and 17-yearsold didn’t consult a doctor.
Since 2013, the number of people eating in soup kitchens has grown gradually in the country, UCA found, with 33 percent of the nation’s children using food banks over the last year. The previous year, in 2016, only 28.5 percent were eating in soup kitchens.