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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Mainstreaming gender into social protection strategies and programmes: Evidence from 74 low- and middle-income countries

AUTHOR(S)
Elena Camilletti; Tara Patricia Cookson; Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed (et al.)

Institution: *UNICEF, UN Women
Published: July 2021

The importance of mainstreaming gender into social protection policies and programmes is increasingly recognized. However, evidence on the extent to which this is actually happening remains limited. This report contributes to filling this evidence gap by drawing on the findings of two complementary research projects undertaken by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti and UN Women in 2019. Using a specifically developed analytical framework, these two projects reviewed 50 national social protection strategies and 40 social protection programmes across a total of 74 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to assess the extent to which they incorporate gender equality concerns.

The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2021

This year’s The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) summarizes the first global assessment of food insecurity and malnutrition for 2020 and offers some indication of what hunger and malnutrition would look like by 2030, in a scenario further complicated by the enduring effects of the pandemic. Nearly one-tenth of the world population – up to 811 million people went hungry in 2020. After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, world hunger increased last year. Further, it is projected that around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030, 30 million more people than in a scenario in which the pandemic had not occurred, due to lasting effects of COVID-19 on global food security. The setback makes the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal for zero hunger and ending all forms of malnutrition more challenging. The report indicates that progress has been made for some forms of malnutrition, but the world is not on track to achieve any global nutrition targets by 2030. Globally, 44 percent of infants under 6 months of age were exclusively breastfed in 2019 – up from 37 percent in 2012 but the practice varies considerably among regions. Child malnutrition still persists at an alarming rate –an estimated 149 million children were stunted, 45 million were wasted and 39 million were overweight in 2020. The report presents new projections of potential additional cases of child stunting and wasting due to COVID-19. Based on a conservative scenario, it is projected that an additional 22 million children in low- and middle-income countries will be stunted, an additional 40 million will be wasted between 2020 and 2030 due to the pandemic. Comprehensive and urgent efforts are required to address the detrimental effects of the pandemic and achieve the 2030 global targets.

The race against COVID-19: outpacing the pandemic for children in Senegal
Institution: *UNICEF
Published: July 2021

Since the first identified case on 2 March 2020 until 13 July 2021, more than 1,200 people have lost their lives, meaning that too many boys and girls suffered the tragic and permanent loss of a grandparent, parent, caregiver or loved one. More than 46,860 persons tested positive, implying that and even greater number of loved ones might have fallen ill, making it hard for them to care for family, keep plans or sustain employment. Meanwhile, almost every household in Senegal was affected by restrictions designed to contain the first wave. While the strict measures were largely successful in limiting the spread of the virus, they also affected key sectors of the economy, disrupted supply chains and markets, and affected both the demand for, and availability of, social services. Essentially, COVID-19 impacted almost every aspect of life, particularly in the first quarter of 2020, which we now recognize as the first “leg” in a multi-year, planet-wide marathon to outpace the pandemic. With the closure of schools and disruption of many basic services, child protection mechanisms also lapsed, triggering a crisis for children with considerable socio-economic costs.

Young children and the pandemic: UNICEF early childhood COVID-19 response in East Asia and the Pacific
Institution: *UNICEF
Published: July 2021

At the height of nationwide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 150 million children younger than 5 years in East Asia and the Pacific were affected. The pandemic brought service provision for young children in many of the 27 countries supported by UNICEF programmes that promote nurturing care and are essential to their optimal development to a standstill. Yet, even before the pandemic, more than 42 million children in the region were at risk of not reaching their developmental potential. Using the latest available evidence, this report summarizes the impact of the pandemic on services essential for young children’s development: For example, that the number of children younger than 5 years visiting community health centres in Viet Nam dropped by 48 per cent; that in Indonesia, more than 50 per cent of households reported not being able to meet their family’s nutritional needs; or that in the Philippines, more than 80 per cent of households experienced a decrease in their household income. Households facing disadvantages before COVID-19 – those with young children, those living in rural and remote areas and low-income households – are in most cases more disproportionally affected by the pandemic.

Empowering the workforce of tomorrow

This report released by UNICEF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), provides concrete recommendations for actions that businesses can take to help address the “skills mismatch” that young people all over the world are encountering. Based on combined insights from WBCSD’s Future of Work project and UNICEF’s programming and research experience in the area of education, the “Empowering the Workforce of Tomorrow: The role of Business in Tackling the Skills Mismatch among Youth” report highlights the scale of the skills mismatch challenge globally, its root causes and the impacts it has on youth, business and society more broadly. Young people in particular are being disproportionately affected by these disruptions. All over the world, hundreds of millions of individuals are coming of age and finding themselves unemployed and unemployable, lacking the right skills to take up the jobs available today and, even more, the skills that will be needed tomorrow.

Talent on the move: listening to children and young people on the move to unlock their potential

AUTHOR(S)
Verena Knaus; Danzhen You

Institution: *UNICEF, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Published: July 2021

There are an estimated 281 million international migrants. One in five is a young person and 36 million are children. Worldwide, more than 4 out of 10 forcibly displaced persons are younger than 18, with 33 million children living in forced displacement at the end of 2019 – either as internally displaced persons within their country or abroad as refugees or asylum seekers. Young migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) across continents represent a unique, untapped pool of talent, ideas, and entrepreneurship. Often resilient, motivated and with experience in overcoming adversity, they have the potential to help solve some of our greatest challenges. Powered by the voices of youth, this report harnesses the technology of U-Report to ask 8,764 young people on the move, aged between 14 and 24, if they felt heard and invited them to share their aspirations to learn and earn. According to this poll, nearly 40 per cent of young people on the move identify education and training as their biggest priorities, and 30 per cent prioritized looking for a job. As the examples in this report highlight, young people on the move are a force for success. But only by creating incentives and opportunities for them to fulfil their aspirations can we turn their passions, energy and hopes into something productive and empowering.

Rise, respond, recover: renewing progress on women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health in the era of COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Jennifer Requejo

This action brief summarizes the latest status and trends of key areas related to women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being from a global perspective. It aims to promote coordinated action among global and national partners to recognize and overcome the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, children and adolescents and to accelerate progress to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rise, Respond, Recover is an update to Protect the Progress: 2020 progress report on Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy for Women’s, Childrens’ and Adolescents’ Health (September 2020), capturing key evidence points presented in May 2021 to the World Health Assembly as well as top priorities and activities among partners.

Family-friendly policies for workers in the informal economy
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented, disastrous impact on the ability of people to balance work and care for their children and families. This policy brief is an outcome of a collaboration between Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in advocating for family-friendly policies to protect and ensure social protection and care systems that are good for children, good for women and good for the economy. The policy brief features an increased focus on the well-being and working conditions of caregivers in the informal economy and their children’s development in low- and middle-income countries. The brief highlights the need to consider sustainable policy and protection responses instead of quick, short-term measures for more gender-transformative and equitable solutions. This represents a critical gap which, if not addressed, will make our goals to tackle child poverty, hunger and gender inequality – and fulfil the SDGs – impossible to achieve. 
Building a resilient generation in Central Asia and Europe
Institution: *UNICEF, European Training Foundation
Published: June 2021
What are the hopes, concerns, and expectations of young people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) about their futures and the role of education, social inclusion, and the environment? This UNICEF-ETF joint report brings youth voices, views, and sentiments from the ECA region as a contribution to the regional and global discussions on how to create better lifelong learning systems, more inclusive communities, and greener societies.
Ready to start school, learn and work: evidence from three education programmes for out-of-school children and adolescents in Bangladesh

AUTHOR(S)
Marco Valenza; Cirenia Chávez; Annika Rigole (et al.)

Institution: *UNICEF
Published: June 2021
Children in the Sylhet division, in the Northeast of Bangladesh, face complex challenges in accessing quality education, at all school levels. The region ranks among the poorest performers in learning attainment across education levels. UNICEF Bangladesh and its partners have leveraged resources from the Let Us Learn (LUL) initiative to deliver three alternative learning pathways for out-of-school children and adolescents in remote areas of Sylhet. The three pathways cover key transition points in a child’s education: Getting ready to start school (Pre-Primary Education programme), learning foundational skills (A​bility-B​ased Accelerated Learning programme) and entering the job market (Alternative Learning Pathway programme). This report presents evidence on the achievements of the three programmes, highlighting key policy recommendations. The findings draw on analysis of programme monitoring data, qualitative case studies, focus group discussions and interviews. This paper is one of a series of research reports presenting emerging evidence on programmes supported by the LUL initiative, which aims to expand quality learning opportunities for disadvantaged children in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal.
From faith to action: inter-religious action to protect the rights of children affected by migration

AUTHOR(S)
Susanna Trotta; Johanne Kjaersgaard; Mario Mosquera (et al.)

Institution: *UNICEF
Published: June 2021

This publication highlights the actual and potential roles of faith actors in contributing towards an effective and holistic response to child displacement in Europe and Central Asia. It illustrates a plurality of ways in which faith actors actively support children and youth on the move, including through ensuring protection and social inclusion, providing spiritual and psychosocial support, countering xenophobia and discrimination, and advocating for policy changes.

Do no harm: maternal, newborn and infant care during COVID-19
Institution: *UNICEF, International Paediatric Association
Published: June 2021

The purpose of this brief is to summarize current evi[1]dence and guidance for maintaining safe and effec[1]tive care across the spectrum of maternal, newborn and infant care while protecting mother and child and health care providers during COVID-19. Furthermore, we review implications of the principle of “do no harm” for maternal, newborn and infant care deliv[1]ery during COVID-19, so that this information is con[1]veniently and readily available to clinical and health system policy leaders and stakeholders in countries and communities. Additionally, considerations for safe oxygen delivery as well as key Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures at home and in health[1]care facilities for pregnant women, newborns and children are described in detail later in the brief.

Child labour: global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward
Institution: *UNICEF, International Labour Organization
Published: June 2021

The latest global estimates indicate that the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years. 63 million girls and 97 million boys were in child labour globally at the beginning of 2020, accounting for almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide. This report warns that global progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years. The number of children aged 5 to 17 years in hazardous work – defined as work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals – has risen by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016. In sub-Saharan Africa, population growth, extreme poverty, and inadequate social protection measures have led to an additional 16.6 million children in child labour over the past four years. Additional economic shocks and school closures caused by COVID-19 mean that children already in child labour may be working longer hours or under worsening conditions, while many more may be forced into the worst forms of child labour due to job and income losses among vulnerable families. The report warns that globally 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic. Children in child labour are at risk of physical and mental harm. Child labour compromises children’s education, restricting their rights and limiting their future opportunities, and leads to vicious inter-generational cycles of poverty and child labour.

Analysis of the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on households and strategic policy recommendations for Indonesia
Institution: *UNICEF, UNDP, SMERU Research Institute, Prospera
Published: May 2021
In an effort to understand the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on women, families with children, vulnerable groups, and people with disabilities, the largest household survey recorded in Indonesia was launched between October and December 2020. Through qualitative interviews, over 12,000 families — across 34 provinces and 247 districts — were surveyed. The results revealed information about the impact of COVID-19 on employment, micro-businesses, food security, access to health, educational services and access to social protection programmes. On a deeper level, it provided insight into the impact of the pandemic on children’s development and wellbeing.
A gendered analysis of child protection systems responses in Covid-19 programming in South Asia

AUTHOR(S)
Deborah Fry; Karina Padilla; Lakshmi Neelakantan (et al.)

Institution: University of Edinburgh, *UNICEF
Published: May 2021
Across South Asia child protection actors have been critical in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring children have continued access to services, mitigating new and increased risks and promoting mental health and wellbeing. This study explores the changes which took place in child protection systems across South Asia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and documents promising practices, programmatic innovations, challenges and lessons learnt from UNICEF’s programming with partners. The study found that key elements of complex adaptive systems are present within the child protection system responses to COVID-19 in the South Asia region. Importantly, there were three common factors across all case study examples that contributed to the success of the interventions and were highlighted as lessons learned: multi-level strategies, strong partnerships and building on existing initiatives and systems.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.