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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19
SPOTLIGHT

Life in Lockdown: Child and adolescent mental health and well-being in the time of COVID-19

COVID-19 lockdowns have significantly disrupted the daily lives of children and adolescents, with increased time at home, online learning and limited physical social interaction. This report seeks to understand the immediate effects on their mental health. Covering more than 130,000 children and adolescents across 22 countries, the evidence shows increased stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as increased alcohol and substance use, and  externalizing behavioural problems. Children and adolescents also reported positive coping strategies, resilience, social connectedness through digital media, more family time, and relief from academic stress. Factors such as demographics, relationships and pre-existing conditions are critical. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations. To ensure children and adolescents are supported, the report recommends building the evidence on the longer-term impact of the pandemic on child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income countries, including vulnerable populations.
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COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Blog Blog

COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition

In 2019, 135 million people in 55 countries were in food crises or worse, and 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. COVID-19 has exacerbated these hardships and may result in an additional 121 million people facing acute food insecurity by the end of 2020. Further, since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 1.6 billion learners in 199 countries worldwide were affected by school closures, with nearly 370 million children not receiving a school meal in 150 countries. The paper presents the evidence on the potential negative short-term and long-term effects of school meal scheme disruption during Covid-19 globally. It shows how vulnerable the children participating in these schemes are, how coping and mitigation measures are often only short-term solutions, and how prioritizing school re-opening is critical. For instance, it highlights how girls are at greater risk of not being in school or of being taken out of school early, which may lead to poor nutrition and health for themselves and their children. However, well-designed school feeding programmes have been shown to enable catch-up from early growth failure and other negative shocks. As such, once schools re-open, school meal schemes can help address the deprivation that children have experienced during the closures and provide an incentive for parents to send and keep their children, especially girls, in school.
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Political Connections No Longer Determine Targeting of Social Protection: A successful case study from Ethiopia
Political Connections No Longer Determine Targeting of Social Protection: A successful case study from Ethiopia

AUTHOR(S)
Elsa Valli

Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs
Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of donor funds for development and emergency interventions. As such, its targeting of social protection has received substantial attention. In particular, concerns have been raised that political connections could play a role in determining the selection of beneficiaries. With the introduction in 2005 of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), Ethiopia implemented various policies aimed at increasing transparency in the targeting of social protection. This case study compares targeting before and during the implementation of PSNP, and shows improvements in targeting for both public works and emergency aid in relation to the dimensions of poverty, food security and political connections. Most notably, political connections are no longer found to determine the receipt of benefits during the implementation of PSNP.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 4 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: ethiopia, social protection
Evidence on Social Protection in Contexts of Fragility and Forced Displacement
Evidence on Social Protection in Contexts of Fragility and Forced Displacement
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs
Rigorous research in humanitarian settings is possible when researchers and programmers work together, particularly in the early stages when responses to humanitarian challenges are designed. Six new rigorous research studies from five countries: Ecuador, Mali, Niger, Lebanon and Yemen illustrate this point.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 7 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: social protection
Ethical Considerations When Using Social Media for Evidence Generation
Ethical Considerations When Using Social Media for Evidence Generation
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs
As of January 2017, 2.78 billion people worldwide were classified as active social media users. Of these users, 1.87 billion use Facebook. Thirty-nine per cent of Facebook users are between the ages of 13 and 24 (approximately 729 million young people). Available data also show that in 2014, approximately 31 per cent of users of the top five social media platforms were aged between 16 and 24 years. With the enormity of this coverage as well as over 40 per cent growth in usage from the previous year in countries like India, UNICEF has and continues to look at ways to use these platforms and the data generated to connect with and understand the reality of children today and to ensure more child-centred/user-centred policies and services. This brief provides an overview of the critical ethical considerations when undertaking evidence generation using social media platforms and using third-party data collected and analysed by social media services. It is supplemented by checklists that may be used to support reflection on the ethical use of social media platforms and social media data. This brief is based on a more in-depth Innocenti Discussion Paper which provides further guidance and tools.
Ethical Considerations When Using Geospatial Technologies for Evidence Generation
Ethical Considerations When Using Geospatial Technologies for Evidence Generation
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs
Geospatial technologies have transformed the way we visualize and understand situations. They are used to acquire, manipulate, store and visualize geographical information, including information on where individuals, groups and infrastructure are located in time and space. For development and humanitarian based organizations like UNICEF, the value of these technologies includes the ability to collect and process real-time information from places that are hard to reach or navigate such as dense forest, conflict zones, or where environmental disasters are occurring or have occurred. This brief provides an overview of the critical considerations when undertaking evidence generation using geospatial technologies. It is supplemented by a checklist that may be used to support reflection on the ethical use of geospatial technologies. This brief is based on a more in-depth Innocenti Discussion Paper which provides further guidance and tools.
‘Cash Plus’: Linking Cash Transfers to Services and Sectors
‘Cash Plus’: Linking Cash Transfers to Services and Sectors
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs

Cash transfers have been successful in reducing food insecurity, increasing consumption, building resiliency against economic shocks, improving productivity and increasing school enrolment. Despite the many successes of cash transfer programmes, they can also fall short of achieving longer-term and second-order impacts related to nutrition, learning and health outcomes. A recent study highlights how so-called ‘Cash Plus’ programmes, which offer additional components or linkages to existing services on top of regular cash payments, may help address such shortcomings.

Zimbabwe's Harmonized Cash Transfer Programme Improves Food Security and Reduces Reliance on Food Gifts
Zimbabwe's Harmonized Cash Transfer Programme Improves Food Security and Reduces Reliance on Food Gifts

AUTHOR(S)
Garima Bhalla

Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs

In 2016, approximately 815 million people were chronically undernourished globally. In recent years, food security has worsened in some parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. In Zimbabwe, latest estimates show that about 45% of the total population are undernourished1. To address the challenge of growing food insecurity, effective social protection programmes must be implemented and scaled-up. Cash transfers are one such programme, the primary objectives of which often include poverty alleviation and food insecurity reduction. This research study utilized longitudinal data collected for the impact evaluation of Zimbabwe’s Harmonized Social Cash Transfer Programme (HSCT), an unconditional cash transfer that targets ultra- poor, labour-constrained households. It accomplishes two things: It provides evidence on the relative merits of using an aggregate consumption expenditure measure versus a food security scale, to assess household vulnerability and food insecurity; and it contributes to a growing literature on the effects of state-sponsored unconditional cash transfers in Africa on household behaviour and food security.

The Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme Increases Household Resiliency
The Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme Increases Household Resiliency
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs
This research brief provides a summary of the impacts on household resiliency generated over three years by Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme. Results show that beneficiary households increase overall measures of resilience, and have increased ability to positively cope with shocks.
The Importance of Understanding and Monitoring the Effects of Cash Transfer Programmes on Child Labour and Education: Findings from Malawi. A Policy Brief
The Importance of Understanding and Monitoring the Effects of Cash Transfer Programmes on Child Labour and Education: Findings from Malawi. A Policy Brief
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs

The Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) has been demonstrated to have a wide range of positive effects on beneficiary households, including an expansion of household agricultural business activities. This brief summarizes the results of two studies which examine whether households rely on children to expand their agricultural businesses. The studies confirm that children support the expansion of household agricultural activities and conclude that the SCTP increases overall child engagement in economic activities. However, working hours are generally moderate and other child wellbeing indicators such as school participation and physical health improve. This suggests that the SCTP nevertheless plays a positive role in the lives of children. These findings contribute to our understanding of the impact of cash transfers on children’s wellbeing and highlight the importance of monitoring the possible impact on child labour of programmes – such as graduation strategies – that encourage the expansion of household entrepreneurial activities.

Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme: A comprehensive summary of impacts
Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme: A comprehensive summary of impacts
Published: 2018 Innocenti Research Briefs

This brief provides a comprehensive summary of the main impacts and related policy implications generated by Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme between 2013 and 2015, including positive impacts on poverty, income multipliers, food security, productivity, education and health

Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Growing Inequality and Unequal Opportunities in Rich Countries
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs
Inequality can have wide-ranging effects on communities, families and children. Income inequality (measured through the Gini index) was found to have an association with higher levels of peer violence in 35 countries (Elgar et al. 2009) and to influence the use of alcohol and drunkenness among 11- and 13-year olds (Elgar et al. 2005). On a macro level, countries with greater income inequality among children have lower levels of child well-being and higher levels of child poverty (Toczydlowska et al. 2016). More worrying still is that growing inequality reinforces the impact of socio-economic status (SES) on children’s outcomes, limiting social mobility. Concern about growing inequality features prominently on the current international development agenda. Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls specifically to reduce inequality within and among countries, while the concept of ‘leaving no one behind’ reflects the spirit of greater fairness in society. But with a myriad of measures and definitions of inequality used in literature, the focus on children is often diluted. This brief contributes to this debate by presenting child-relevant distributional measures that reflect inequality of outcomes as well as opportunity for children in society, over time.
Exploring Women's Empowerment through Asset Ownership and Experience of Intimate Partner Violence
Exploring Women's Empowerment through Asset Ownership and Experience of Intimate Partner Violence
Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is widespread globally, with an estimated one-third of women aged 15 years and over experiencing physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Economic empowerment, or the financial standing of women, is often thought to protect against IPV, signalling sufficient economic autonomy to leave abusive situations or to prevent abuse. Asset ownership is one measure of economic empowerment, and can convey substantial agency as a wealth store, especially for large productive assets, such as agricultural land or home ownership. Despite the important implications of IPV reduction for policy and programming, evidence of this relationship is scarce.We hope this research will advance our global understanding of this potential.

The Transformative Impacts of Unconditional Cash Transfers: Evidence from two government programmes in Zambia
The Transformative Impacts of Unconditional Cash Transfers: Evidence from two government programmes in Zambia

AUTHOR(S)
Luisa Natali

Published: 2017 Innocenti Research Briefs

Unconditional cash transfers are on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa, with recent estimates indicating a doubling of programmes between 2010 and 2014. This brief provides an overview of the comprehensive impacts across eight domains of two unconditional cash transfer programmes implemented by the Zambian Government: The Child Grant Programme (CGP) and the Multiple Category Targeting Programme (MCP). Although the primary objective of these programmes is poverty mitigation rather than economic empowerment, we document protective and productive outcomes in order to assess whether these programmes generate transformative effects and have the potential to offer a sustained pathway out of poverty for poor households.

 

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Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Publication Publication

Learning at a Distance: Children’s remote learning experiences in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Italy was the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown. Children and their families lived in nearly complete isolation for almost two months. Students missed 65 days of school compared to an average of 27 missed days among high-income countries worldwide. This prolonged break is of concern, as even short breaks in schooling can cause significant loss of learning for children and lead to educational inequalities over time. At least 3 million Italian students may not have been reached by remote learning due to a lack of internet connectivity or devices at home. This report explores children’s and parents’ experiences of remote learning during the lockdown in Italy, drawing on data collected from 11 European countries (and coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center). It explores how children's access and use of digital technologies changed during the pandemic; highlights how existing inequalities might undermine remote learning opportunities, even among those with internet access; and provides insights on how to support children’s remote learning in the future. *** L'Italia e’ stata il primo paese in Europa ad aver applicato la misura del lockdown su tutto il territorio. I bambini e le loro famiglie hanno vissuto in quasi completo isolamento per circa due mesi. Gli studenti hanno perduto 65 giorni di scuola rispetto ad una media di 27 negli altri paesi ad alto reddito del mondo. Questa interruzione prolungata rappresenta motivo di preoccupazione, in quanto persino interruzioni piu’ brevi nella didattica possono causare significative perdite nel livello di istruzione dei ragazzi e portare col tempo a diseguaglianze educative. Almeno 3 milioni di studenti in Italia non sono stati coinvolti nella didattica a distanza a causa d una mancanza di connessione ad internet o di dispositivi adeguati a casa. Questo rapporto analizza l’esperienza della didattica a distanza di ragazzi e genitori in Italia durante il lockdown, sulla base dei dati raccolti in 11 paesi europei (e coordinati dal Centro comune di ricerca della Commissione Europea). Studia il cambiamento nell’accesso e nell’uso delle tecnologie digitali dei bambini e ragazzi durante la pandemia; mette in evidenza come le diseguaglianze esistenti possano diminuire le opportunità offerte dalla didattica a distanza, anche tra coloro che hanno accesso ad internet; e fornisce approfondimenti su come sostenere la didattica a distanza di bambini e ragazzi in futuro.
Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa
Publication Publication

Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa

There is a learning crisis. Fifty-three per cent of children in low- and middle-income countries are in ‘learning poverty’, i.e. they cannot read and understand a simple text by the end of primary school age. In sub- Saharan Africa, the learning poverty rate is 87 per cent overall, and ranges from 40 per cent to as high as 99 per cent in the 21 countries with available data. Teachers attending lessons and spending quality time on task is a critical prerequisite to learning. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, teacher absenteeism ranges from 15 to 45 per cent. Teacher absenteeism and reduced time on task wastes valuable financial resources, short-changes students and is one of the most cumbersome obstacles on the path toward the education Sustainable Development Goal and to the related vision of the new UNICEF education strategy: Every Child Learns. Whilst the stark numbers are available to study, and despite teacher absenteeism being a foremost challenge for education systems in Africa, the evidence base on how policies and practices can influence teacher attendance remains scant. Time to Teach (TTT) is a research initiative that looks at primary school teacher attendance in eight countries and territories in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region: the Comoros; Kenya; Rwanda, Puntland, State of Somalia; South Sudan; the United Republic of Tanzania, mainland; the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar; and Uganda. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various forms of teacher attendance, which include being at school, being punctual, being in the classroom, and teaching when in the classroom, and use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies.

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