The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children warned that if urgent measures are not taken, the number of children living in poverty across low- and middle-income countries could increase by 86 million, a 15 per cent jump, by the end of the year.

In a joint press release on Monday, they urged governments to mitigate the social impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The analysis highlights that, without urgent action to protect families from the financial hardships caused by the pandemic, the total number of children living below the national poverty line in low- and middle-income countries could reach 672 million by year-end.”

They noted that the Cambodian government has done its part by initiating a monthly subsidy programme for more than 2.2 million poor families in Cambodia.

In a press release they said: “Since Covid-19 hit, the Royal Government of Cambodia has scaled up its social protection programme. A new Covid-19 Cash Transfer Programme for ID Poor Households has been approved and is scheduled to launch during the second week of June.”

“Supported by UNICEF, the EU, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the UN Development Fund, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Save the Children and other partners, this programme aims to cover an estimated 540,000 impoverished households or over 2.4 million individuals,” it said.

It also said the monthly Covid-19 Cash Transfer programme is designed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable groups, including the children aged from 0-5 years, people with disabilities, the elderly, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Both organisations said the programme will provide additional money to programmes already implemented, including those helping poor pregnant women, children from 0-2 years, and a scholarship programme aimed at helping primary and secondary students.

Ministry of Planning spokesman Nop Kan Navuth told The Post on Monday that his ministry had completed the identification of poor families in rural areas last month and the report is being finalised.

The ministry will consult with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to prepare an estimate of subsidies to be handed out to them shortly.

“The next task is identifying poor families in towns, which will be completed this month,” he said.