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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Reimagining Migration Responses: Learning from children and young people who move in the Horn of Africa
SPOTLIGHT

Reimagining Migration Responses: Learning from children and young people who move in the Horn of Africa

The number of international migrants under 18 is rising, accelerated by complex and fast-evolving economic, demographic, security and environmental drivers. Based on interviews carried out with 1,290 migrant children and young people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, this report helps address the evidence gap on children and young people migrating in the Horn of Africa by providing a better understanding of their protective environments; their access to services and resources; and their perceptions of safety, well-being and trust in authorities and other providers. It concludes by offering policy and programme recommendations to rethink child protection approaches for migrants in the region.
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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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Happiness and Alleviation of Income Poverty: Impacts of an unconditional cash transfer programme using a subjective well-being approach
Happiness and Alleviation of Income Poverty: Impacts of an unconditional cash transfer programme using a subjective well-being approach
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

This study analyzes the impact of an exogenous, positive income shock on caregivers’ subjective well-being in Malawi using panel data from 3,365 households targeted to receive Malawi’s Social Cash Transfer Programme that provides unconditional cash to ultra-poor, labour-constrained households. The study consists of a cluster-randomized, longitudinal design. After the baseline survey, half of these village clusters were randomly selected to receive the transfer and a follow-up survey was conducted 17 months later. Utilizing econometric analysis and panel data methods, we find that household income increases from the cash transfer can have substantial subjective well-being gains among caregivers. Households use the cash to improve their families’ livelihoods, ensuring provision of their basic needs including food, shelter, and clothing. Reduction of these daily stresses makes caregivers happier about their current situations and gives them hope that the future will continue to get better.

The Effect of Cash Transfers and Household Vulnerability on Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe
The Effect of Cash Transfers and Household Vulnerability on Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

We study the impact of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) on household food security after 12 months of implementation. The programme has had a strong impact on a well-known food security scale – the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) – but muted impacts on food consumption expenditure. However aggregate food consumption hides dynamic activity taking place within the household where the cash is used to obtain more food from the market and rely less on food received as gifts. The cash in turn gives them greater choice in their food basket which improves diet diversity. Further investigation of the determinants of food consumption and the HFIAS shows that several dimensions of household vulnerability correlate more strongly with the HFIAS than food consumption. Labour constraints, which is a key vulnerability criterion used by the HSCT to target households, is an important predictor of the HFIAS but not food expenditure, and its effect on food security is even larger during the lean season.

Experiences of Peer Bullying among Adolescents and Associated Effects on Young Adult Outcomes: Longitudinal Evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Viet Nam
Experiences of Peer Bullying among Adolescents and Associated Effects on Young Adult Outcomes: Longitudinal Evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Viet Nam
Published: 2016 Innocenti Discussion Papers

Being bullied has been found to have a significant impact on children’s physical and mental health, psychosocial well-being and educational performance, with lasting effects into adulthood on health, well-being and lifetime earnings. Little is known about bullying in low- and middle-income countries, however. This study uses a mixed methods approach combining survey analysis of the predictors and associations with being bullied, with qualitative data to explore the context in which bullying occurs and the social processes that underpin it. Findings show that better data collection and increased resource allocation to bullying prevention are needed. The development and evaluation of different types of effective, sustainable and scalable bullying prevention models in low- and middle-income country contexts are priorities for programming and research.

Global Kids Online, Research Synthesis 2015–2016: Summary
Global Kids Online, Research Synthesis 2015–2016: Summary
Published: 2016 Miscellanea

The many stakeholders responsible for children’s safe and positive use of the internet (governments, civil society and the private sector alike) have an important task to formulate policies that are inclusive, balanced and based on solid evidence. But at present, the evidence on which such policies can rely is very scarce, especially in the global South. Research is also invaluable for contextualising online experiences in relation to children’s and families’ lives and the wider cultural or national circumstances. At the global level, evidence is needed to help build a consensus among international actors on international standards, agreements, protocols and investments in order to make the internet a safer and better place for children. Responding to evidence gaps, the GKO research project (www.globalkidsonline.net) was developed as a collaborative initiative between the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and EU Kids Online. Global Kids Online (GKO) follows a child rights framework, as this offers a unifying approach to children’s everyday experiences online, as well as offline, while also recognising the diverse contexts in which children live. The project aims to connect evidence with the ongoing international dialogue regarding policy and practical solutions for children’s well-being and rights in the digital age, especially in countries where the internet is only recently reaching the mass market.

Global Kids Online Research Synthesis, 2015-2016
Global Kids Online Research Synthesis, 2015-2016
Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Report

With children making up an estimated one third of internet users worldwide, living in the ‘digital age’ can have important implications for children’s lives. Currently, close to 80 per cent of people in Europe, North America and Australia have internet access, compared with less than 25 per cent in some parts of Africa and South Asia. The international community has recognized the importance of internet access for development, economic growth and the realization of civil rights and is actively seeking ways to ensure universal internet access to all segments of society. Children should be an important part of this process, not only because they represent a substantial percentage of internet users but also because they play an important part in shaping the internet. The internet in turn plays an important part in shaping children’s lives, culture and identities.

Factors Associated with Good and Harsh Parenting of Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents in Southern Africa
Factors Associated with Good and Harsh Parenting of Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents in Southern Africa
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

This working paper presents findings from the analyses of two different observational studies of caregiver-pre-adolescent (4-13 years, referred to as the ‘pre-adolescent study’) and caregiver-adolescent (10-17 years, referred to as the ‘adolescent study’) dyads. Regression and structural equation modelling techniques are used to identify practices constituting good and harsh parenting, factors associated with these parenting behaviours and child and adolescent outcomes. Good parenting in pre-adolescents was associated with fewer educational risks and behavioural problems as well as increased self-esteem, mediated by child trauma and depression. In adolescents, family disadvantage (poverty, AIDS-ill caregiver and caregiver disability) were found to be associated with an increase in harsh parenting and poor caregiver mental health, both of which were associated with increased adolescent health risks.

Why Assist People Living in Poverty? The ethics of poverty reduction
Why Assist People Living in Poverty? The ethics of poverty reduction
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers
The paper provides an examination of the relevance of ethics to poverty reduction. It argues that linking the shared values that define the social arrangements and institutions, which we refer to as ‘ethical perspectives’, to the emerging welfare institutions addressing poverty in developing countries provides a window into these processes of justification at a more fundamental level. By ethics of poverty the authors refer to the most basic arguments and processes used to justify how and why we assist people living in poverty. Given the extent to which poverty reflects injustice, they argue it is appropriate to consider poverty in the context of ethics. Drawing on the recent expansion of social assistance in Brazil, South Africa and Ghana, the paper shows that ethical perspectives are relevant to our understanding of the evolution of anti-poverty policy.
Family and Parenting Support: Policy and Provision in a Global Context
Family and Parenting Support: Policy and Provision in a Global Context
Published: 2015 Innocenti Insights
Families, parents and caregivers play a central role in child well-being and development. They offer identity, love, care, provision and protection to children and adolescents as well as economic security and stability. In keeping with the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, family and parenting support is increasingly recognized as an important part of national social policies and social investment packages aimed at reducing poverty, decreasing inequality and promoting positive parental and child well-being. This publication seeks to develop a research agenda on family support and parenting support globally.
Cash Transfers and Climate-resilient Development: Evidence from Zambia’s Child Grant Programme
Cash Transfers and Climate-resilient Development: Evidence from Zambia’s Child Grant Programme
Published: 2015 Innocenti Working Papers
This study investigates whether cash transfers enable households facing weather and other negative income shocks to avoid adverse coping strategies that can lead to poverty traps. While cash transfers are not routinely considered in the policy discourse concerning climate adaptation programming, because ex-ante transfers enable households to avoid negative coping strategies and even increase food consumption in the face of covariate weather shocks, cash transfers offer a sound approach for building climate-resilience amongst the world’s most vulnerable and facilitating their “autonomous adaptation” to a changing environment. Cash also enables households to productively cope with the many other idiosyncratic shocks the rural poor routinely face.
Social Networks and Risk Management in Ghana’s Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme
Social Networks and Risk Management in Ghana’s Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme
Published: 2015 Innocenti Working Papers
Understanding how household consumption, investment and saving decisions respond to transfer income is critical to public policy. In developing countries, saving or otherwise investing in the future is difficult for poor households which often struggle to meet basic expenses, while high debt burdens are also obstacles to saving. Poor households in rural areas of developing countries typically manage risk via informal exchanges or transfers among extended family, friends and neighbours. Motivated by the community dynamics observed in the qualitative assessment of LEAP and the unpredictable and lumpy payments made by the programme during the evaluation period, the main interest of this paper is to assess within a quantitative framework the impact of LEAP on household risk reduction strategies via reintegration in, and strengthening of, social networks and reduction of debt exposure.
Cash Transfers and Child Nutrition: What we know and what we need to know
Cash Transfers and Child Nutrition: What we know and what we need to know
Published: 2015 Innocenti Working Papers
This paper aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the impacts of cash transfer programmes on the immediate and underlying determinants of child nutrition, including the most recent evidence from impact evaluations across sub-Saharan Africa. It adopts the UNICEF extended model of care conceptual framework of child nutrition and highlights evidence on the main elements of the framework – food security, care and health care. It finds that several key gaps should be addressed in future including cash transfer impacts on more proximate nutrition-related outcomes such as children’s dietary diversity, as well as caregiver behaviours, intra-household violence, and stress, all of which have implications for child health and well-being.
Unconditional Government Social Cash Transfer in Africa Does not Increase Fertility
Unconditional Government Social Cash Transfer in Africa Does not Increase Fertility
Published: 2015 Innocenti Working Papers
In Africa, one of the key barriers to the scale-up of unconditional cash transfer programmes is the notion held by politicians, and even the general public, that such programmes will induce the poor to have more children. The hard evidence on this question is scanty. The current study uses evaluation data from the Zambian Child Grant Programme (CGP), a large-scale UCT targeted to households with a child under the age of five at programme initiation and evaluates the impact of transfers on fertility and child-fostering decisions. The overall goal of the CGP is to reduce extreme poverty and break the intergenerational transmission of poverty. The results contribute to the small literature that rigorously documents the fertility impacts of unconditional cash transfer programmes in developing countries.
Cite this publication | No. of pages: 40 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: cash transfers, economic policy, fertility
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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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