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UNICEF: 8 in 10 Kuala Lumpur’s low-income families struggle to meet basic needs

UNICEF’s report exposes escalating hardships among Kuala Lumpur’s low-income families, surpassing pandemic levels. Rising living costs force 90% of them to cut food intake, severely impacting children’s nutrition.

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MALAYSIA: A recent UNICEF report sheds light on the intensified challenges confronting low-income households in Kuala Lumpur, surpassing the difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Titled “Key Findings Living on the Edge” the report unveils that eight out of ten families now struggle to meet basic needs, marking a notable increase from the pandemic period.

This study serves as a continuation of the Families on the Edge (FOE) project, commissioned by UNICEF and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to gauge the pandemic’s impact on women and children in low-income families in Kuala Lumpur.

Conducted post-pandemic from 14 October to 16 November 2023, the survey collected data from 755 low-income households residing in sixteen low-cost public housing units in the city.

The report underscores the urgent necessity for reinforced social protection measures to safeguard vulnerable segments of society, particularly low-income families, women-headed households, and individuals with disabilities.

Juanita Vasquez-Escallon, UNICEF Malaysia’s social policy chief, emphasizes the significance of investing in sustenance and overall well-being to ensure the comprehensive welfare of children and families.

Despite improvements in employment and income, poverty persists, with 41% experiencing absolute poverty and 17% facing hardcore poverty, notably among female-headed households and those with disabilities.

Children are especially vulnerable, with 95% living in relative poverty and 40% below the poverty line.

Escalating living costs have exacerbated hardships, with eight out of ten families struggling to meet basic needs.

Rising food prices have forced 90% of low-income households to resort to extreme measures such as reducing food intake, impacting children’s nutrition.

Additionally, expenses related to transportation and extracurricular activities have surged, raising concerns about education accessibility and quality.

To cope with escalating expenses, families have tightened budgets, leading to adverse effects on mental well-being.

Three-quarters of respondents report negative impacts on mental health, with one in four experiencing depression, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive support systems.

The reports also noted that households prioritize higher wages over other forms of assistance, emphasizing the importance of policy interventions aligned with their preferences.

Increasing wages and sustaining cash assistance programs are favoured measures to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.

Policymakers are urged to heed household priorities in crafting effective interventions to address these challenges.

UNICEF report calls for government action to alleviate hardships in Kuala Lumpur

UNICEF’s latest report outlines key recommendations to alleviate hardships among vulnerable communities in Kuala Lumpur.

A primary proposal is the implementation of a monthly RM200 (US$42) allowance for pregnant mothers until the child reaches two years old.

Additionally, UNICEF suggests a universal allowance for people with disabilities to ensure income security, recognizing their economic vulnerabilities.

The report stresses extending allowances to primary caregivers, mostly women, of disabled family members.

Currently, assistance is limited to households earning RM1,198 (US$252) monthly, but UNICEF proposes extending support to those below the poverty line income of RM2,589 (US$545) per month.

Alongside financial aid, UNICEF advocates for enhancing awareness and access to sexual reproductive health rights and mental well-being services.

This involves expanding community outreach programs to educate individuals and families and ensuring access to preventive care.

Addressing mental health challenges is prioritized, with UNICEF recommending the expansion of community-based interventions and support groups to foster overall mental well-being.

Furthermore, UNICEF suggests increasing the minimum wage to RM2,287 (US$482) per month, aligning with Bank Negara Malaysia’s proposed living wage of RM2,700 (US$568).

Eradication of poverty

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim declared in February that abject poverty had been eliminated in Melaka, Negri Sembilan, and Kuala Lumpur.

He aims to eradicate hard-core poverty across all ethnicities nationwide.

PM Anwar emphasized assistance for families in Kuala Lumpur, especially focusing on Indians facing high poverty rates.

He claimed a 100% eradication rate for hardcore poverty in these regions.

Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli reported in November a significant drop in hardcore poverty rates to 0.2%, affecting 18,445 households, down from 1% in 2020.

Government data for 2022 indicated a decline in hardcore poor households to 129,395, compared to 260,000 in 2021 at the pandemic’s peak.

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Will UNICEF come to Singapore to do the same studies?

Shit country will never get out of shit state run along Islamic religious lines.Those lucky enough to capitalise on 3.5 to 1 HUAT. For the rest of the 8 in 10 then can shit together till they meet their 72 virgins or so they thought!😆😆😆

Such truthful news will never come to light in Singapore.

Their new agong is a multi billionaire…he should try to do something for his people.

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