1 in 7 families in Pacific sending children to work, report finds

A startling report of the impact of Covid-19 in the Pacific shows around 60 per cent of households have lost income or jobs.

The World Vision report, Pacific Aftershocks, surveyed more than 750 households in PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste. It showed one in seven families are sending children out to work.

Food security is revealed to be a serious problem showing that while New Zealand suffered a five to six per cent hike in food prices, Vanuatu has been hit with a 30.6 per cent increase.

Country director for World Vision Vanuatu Kendra Derousseau says its resulted in families doing it hard.

“They’re skipping meals..its very difficult to get food into the country..prices of local food have risen because the price of imported petrol and the availability of petrol has risen and declined,” she said.

World Vision NZ International partnerships director TJ Grant says PNG and Timor-Leste already have the second and third-worst growth stunting rates in the world because of inadequate nutrition.

“With this added impacts of Covid-19 and the economic shocks there for those families that all of those children and all of those families are potentially going to suffer dire consequences not just now but for years and years to come,” he said.

It’s why one of the report recommendations is an urgent multi-country response by Governments and agencies to address child stunting – including asking New Zealand and Australia for $200 million.

“That kind of investment can change the course of history for hundreds of thousands of children across the Pacific,” he said.