With 36 per cent of the country living in poverty, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has found that 47.5 per cent of children 16 years old and younger are living in poverty in Guyana.According to the UNICEF Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Guyana 2016, “poverty in Guyana has a child’s face,” revealing that the poverty number from 2006 shows that younger age cohorts have a significantly higher poverty headcount than older ones.It stated that 33.7 per cent of young people aged 16 to 25 years lived in poverty in 2006, while almost half of all children aged 16 and below were poor (47.5 per cent) in 2006. It indicated that data on child poverty was not disaggregated for different ethnicities, regions and/or areas of the country.In addition, the analysis pointed to the fact that the 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) did not calculate poverty rates for the country but used a quintile wealth index to differentiate wealth across households, from poorest to richest and the survey confirmed two main disparities in Guyana: the difference between rural and urban, and the difference between coastal and interior regions.The report stated that while 13 per cent of the population living in the urban areas could be considered poor, the number is raised to 22.5 per cent in rural areas. “As a matter of fact, almost 44 per cent of the population in rural areas would be living in the two smaller wealth quintiles, in comparison to 30 per cent in the urban areas”.According to the last official poverty measurement survey in 2006, 36.1 per cent of the population in the country was living in poverty, including 18.6 percent that were living in extreme poverty.The 2006 measurements confirmed that poverty and extreme poverty were stronger in the interior areas of the country, and were uneven if regions were taken into consideration.Poverty is massiveThe report emphasised that out of all poor people in the country, most of them were living in areas categorised as rural coastal, followed by urban areas and rural interior. It noted that due to the population distribution in the country, most of the poor people would be living in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); nonetheless, in percentage terms, poverty is massive in Regions Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), One (Barima-Waini) and Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo), where more than 70 per cent of the population living in those areas were considered poor.It stated that one of the challenges in calculating poverty in Guyana is to find a measurement that can encompass different cultures and lifestyles which are present in the country.According to the 2015 World Development Report, children living in poverty experience greater levels of environmental and psychosocial stressors than their higher-income counterparts and that stress and adversity in the first years of life can permanently constrict the development of physical and mental capacities throughout adulthood.“Furthermore, children from disadvantaged families are less likely to receive consistent support and guidance from responsive caregivers. They are also likely to have had less opportunity to develop the critical skills – including skills in controlling their impulses, understanding the perspectives of other people, and focusing attention – that are important for engaging effectively with teachers and other children, paying attention in class, completing assignments, and behaving appropriately,” the UNICEF report added.Guyana has signed onto the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advance on the Millennium Development Goals call to end poverty. “This time the SDGs on its Target 1.2 openly indicate that poverty must be reduced among women and children,” the report said.UNICEF recommends following SDG Targets 1.1 and 1.242, to develop and implement a methodology to yearly measure poverty and vulnerabilities, capturing the different cultural peculiarities in the country. “The method should allow for monitoring poverty at national level, and at the same time disaggregate poverty for different ages, regions, geographical areas and ethnicities. The method for monitoring poverty should clearly define child poverty, and should adopt a multidimensional measure that complements the monetary method,” the report stressed.It added that the country should take into consideration strengthening support to families in situations of vulnerability, in particular single-parent families through systematic, long-term policies and programmes to ensure access to social services and sustainable income opportunities.Although Guyana is considered an upper middle-income country, it is the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti and Nicaragua. Unemployment is high and it is particularly concerning for the young population, which represents more than 60 per cent of Guyana’s population. Since 2002, youth unemployment has been consistently higher than 30 per cent and is currently estimated to be about 40 per cent.