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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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How Effective are Cash Transfers in Mitigating Shocks for Vulnerable Children? Evidence on the impact of the Lesotho Child Grant Programme on multidimensional deprivation
How Effective are Cash Transfers in Mitigating Shocks for Vulnerable Children? Evidence on the impact of the Lesotho Child Grant Programme on multidimensional deprivation
Published: 2020 Innocenti Working Papers
Shocks can pressure families into negative coping strategies with significant drawbacks for children’s lives and development, particularly for children living in disadvantaged households who are at greater risk of falling into a poverty trap. This paper investigates if unconditional cash transfers can be effective in protecting children against unexpected negative life events. Using two waves of data, we found that the Lesotho Child Grant Programme reduced the incidence and intensity of multidimensional deprivation for children living in labour-constrained female-headed households that experienced negative economic or demographic shocks. Programme design in shock-prone contexts should seek to reinforce and widen the protective effect of the cash transfer for the most vulnerable.
Sustainable Development Goal 1.2: Multidimensional child poverty in the European Union
Sustainable Development Goal 1.2: Multidimensional child poverty in the European Union
Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers

The new universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for “reducing at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions” by 2030. Since few European Union (EU) countries have an official national multidimensional poverty measure for monitoring progress towards the SDGs, this paper proposes and evaluates a child-specific multidimensional poverty measure using data from ad hoc material deprivation modules of the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) 2009 and 2014. The proposed measure can be used both for national and EU-wide SDG monitoring without replacing either national or EU-wide indices of material deprivation. Comparing child multidimensional poverty rates between 2009 and 2014, the paper ranks EU countries based on the 2014 headcount rates and changes over time.

A revised version of this working paper has been published in the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice

Comparing Approaches to the Measurement of Multidimensional Child Poverty
Comparing Approaches to the Measurement of Multidimensional Child Poverty
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 1.2 implies that both monetary and non-monetary or multidimensional (MD) child poverty would be measured and monitored, and that the associated indicators would be defined nationally. However, very few countries routinely measure child MD poverty. This paper seeks to provide some guidance on the topic by presenting and comparing two approaches which are now some of the most widely used. The first approach is the Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) which was developed by UNICEF. MODA is a child specific MD poverty measure rooted in the rights-based framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The second measure we present and compare is the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative which has computed the MPI for over 100 countries using a universal global standard. We compare the global version of the measures, applying them to four countries: Cambodia, Ghana, Mali, Mongolia. The two approaches, while sharing many similarities, do not lead to the same results. In deciding on their individual strategy to measure and track SDG Target 1.2, countries will need to reflect on both the underlying purpose of the target, and to evaluate the inevitable trade-offs between the two approaches.

Child Poverty in Armenia: National Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis
Child Poverty in Armenia: National Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis
Published: 2016 Innocenti Working Papers

This report provides the first comprehensive national estimates of multidimensional child poverty in Armenia, measured using UNICEF’s Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) methodology. Dimensions and indicators for three age groups (0-5, 6-14 and 15-17) were selected as the result of a broad consultative process with key stakeholders convened by UNICEF Armenia. Based on nationally representative data from the Armenian Integrated Living Conditions Survey 2013/14, the study finds that 64 per cent of children under 18 are deprived in 2 or more dimensions, with a substantially higher rate in rural than in urban areas. The highest rates of deprivation are in access to utilities, quality housing and leisure activities. More than one in four children are both multidimensionally deprived and live in consumption-poor households, while more than one in three are deprived but do not live in poor households. The findings suggest that to target the most vulnerable children, policies should concentrate on closing the rural/urban divide in infrastructure and on strengthening social safety nets, especially in rural areas.

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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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