The coronavirus lockdown has hammered Argentina’s economy, which is now expected to shrink around 12% this year, driving millions into poverty and leaving almost six out of every 10 children and adolescents below the poverty line, United Nations data show.
“If I don’t work, it’s all screwed up. Food is expensive. Hunger doesn’t wait for you,” Antonio Chenarce, a 49-year-old baker who has struggled to make ends meet since losing his job, and who lives with his wife and three children in a poor neighborhood of the capital, Buenos Aires, said.
Chenarce’s wife Benita Ortencia Rivero Rodriguez, 44, said the lack of work and money was tough with the children.
“We try to take more care of each other because sometimes the kids lack things. They ask you for something and you don’t have it and sometimes it costs a lot,” she said. “Since this all started, there is just less work.”
Roberto Valent, U.N. coordinator in Argentina, said the pandemic was leading to a spike in poverty and predicted that 58.6% of children and adolescents would be in poverty by year’s end. That is up from 53% in late 2019.
“We already have a level of growth in poverty that goes far beyond what Argentina could have foreseen even in its worst nightmares,” said Valent. Up to 850,000 jobs could be lost this year due to the coronavirus, he estimated.