Six out of every 10 children and adolescents in Argentina are poor and some 4.2 million are eating less than they were a year ago, according to a new report.
The stark data, based on figures from the tail-end of 2022, comes from a new report by the respected Observatorio de la Deuda Social (“Social Debt Observatory”) at the Universidad Católica Argentina (Catholic University of Argentina, UCA).
According to the body, more than 61 percent of Argentina’s children and adolescents were living below the poverty line at the end of last year – a figure that means 8.2 million did not have access to the total basic food basket.
Of those, 13.1 percent of the population aged up to 17 years of age – around 1.6 million individuals – were living in extreme poverty.
The observatory also found that 31.4 percent of children and adolescents in Argentina suffered from food insecurity, a definition that means that their family’s diet had been reduced over the previous year due to economic problems.
As a result, 4.2 million people are eating worse than they were the previous year as a consequence of the economic crisis. Of those, 1.6 million (12.3 percent of all those aged under 17) directly felt hungry.
The situation is at its most severe in the so-called ‘Conurbano’ region, the ring of municipalities that encircles Buenos Aires City, where 15 percent of the population went hungry in the last year. Child poverty touched 69 percent in this region, where 16.3 percent of children did not have the needs of the basic food basket covered.
Underlining the challenging facing the government and Argentina’s authorities, the UCA observatory noted that between 2019 and 2022 the number of children and adolescents receiving state assistance, through, for example, the Tarjeta Alimentar, grew by almost 20 points.
According to the UCA, "the balance is positive in terms of a process of recovery in relation to the deterioration experienced in 2020 but it is clear that there is a floor of 30 percent of the child population that lacks sufficient food and almost half of this is experiencing severe deprivation."
The report’s authors warned that food protection is still "insufficient to eradicate the problem or even reach average levels similar to those of the 2010/2019 decade. Undoubtedly, the overall balance of the period 2010-2022, in terms of access to food is negative.”
In an eyebrow-raising statistic, the report estimated that 9.2 percent of children and adolescents were actively working at the end of 2022, a fact it described as “a secondary survival strategy for households.
"The incidence was higher among adolescents (19.7 percent), in the marginal working class (10 percent), and in the metropolitan areas of the interior of the country and the rest of the urban interior (12.6 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively)," it reads.
UCA’s observatory gained prominence during the administration of former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner when data from the INDEC national statistics bureau became unreliable as a result of government pressure.
Its specialists measure poverty on a multi-dimensional basis, rather than just use a monetary amount.