Over a million children and adolescents in Argentina skip a meal – whether breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner – due to a lack of household income, a situation which also affects three million adults, according to a new survey presented by UNICEF.
Insufficient earnings have also led to a 67 percent drop in meat consumption, while the intake of fruit, vegetables and dairy products has fallen off 40 percent, the UN agency warned in a report.
Job instability and insufficient earnings in numerous families are the main determinants of this situation according to UNICEF’s Encuesta Rápida sobre la Situación de la Niñez y Adolescencia 2022 flash survey representing households with children nationwide and making comparisons with the similar surveys carried out in 2020 and 2021.
According to the report, a third of households cannot cover their current expenses and half cannot meet the costs of schooling, including the purchase of books and utensils.
The lack of funding also conditions health – a quarter of households have stopped going to the doctor or dentist while almost a fifth have suspended the purchase of medicine. Furthermore, over 30 percent have had to dig into their savings or ask money from relatives in order to be able to meet basic needs.
Faced with the lack of funds, 20 percent of households have gone into debt, mainly via ANSES social security administration, a bank loan or informal lenders or situations occasioning additional pressures on available income.
The risk of food insecurity is reflected in the fact that 36 percent of households with children have ceased buying some food for lack of money. Nevertheless, this average figure conceals major disparities, reaching half the recipient homes of Asignación Universal por Hijo (AUH) child benefits and Tarjeta Alimentar food cards, numerous families and households headed by a female or in debt.
In those cases where the father does not live at home, an additional pressure on income is observed – half the affected women affirm that they receive no alimony, rising to 63 percent when including those only receiving it sporadically.
“The systems to protect income continue to be a central pillar – 55 percent of homes receive some relief,” said UNICEF representative Luisa Brumana.