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Posted by on 2024/05/15 under Family

Children of low income families in Malaysia’s capital are eating less than three meals a day as their families have been forced to cut back on spending due to rising food prices in the post-pandemic era.

About 52% of the children surveyed ate less than three meals a day, compared to 45% before the pandemic.

The rise in living costs have also forced many breadwinners of these families to work longer hours and even cut back on food, according to a United Nations-backed study on 755 households living in 16 low income flats in Kuala Lumpur.

The study aims to find out how these families, whose median incomes are near RM3,000 per month, are coping with the rise in food prices and other living costs in the post pandemic era.

The households had been part of a series of earlier studies in May 2020, September 2020, December 2020 and March 2021 which tracked the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdowns on low income families.

These earlier “Families on the Edge” studies were published by the United Nations Childrens' Fund (Unicef) Malaysia and the United Nations Population Fund.

The follow up study titled "Living on the Edge: Longitudinal Study on the Impact of Cost of Living Post-Pandemic among low-income households in Kuala Lumpur" was released on Wednesday (May 8).

One of the key findings of the study is that while the incomes of these families have recovered from the pandemic, although lower than 2021(45%), poverty among them remains high at 41% based on the poverty rate for households in Kuala Lumpur which is RM2,216 and below.

The poverty rate among female-headed households and those headed by a person with disabilities were higher at 59% and 67% respectively.

The most impacted are children as 40% of children in these low cost flats live in households below the national capital's poverty line.

Eight out of 10 households say they are struggling to earn enough to meet their daily needs, as compared to the pandemic era when seven out of 10 reported experiencing this hardship.

“The majority of households (90%) say they are affected by the rise in cost of living, especially food prices, with about 50% saying that they are financially worse off than in 2022.”

To cope with the rising cost of living, families in the study said they had cut back on essentials including food.

“Children, most of whom have health problems, also eat less with one out of every two, eating less than three times a day,” the study said.

Another important finding was that one in three families who earned below RM5,000 in these low cost flats did not receive aid through Sumbangan Tunai Rahmah (STR) even though they are qualified to do so.

Additionally, it was found that 40% of those employed did not have social protection.

It was found that they were not only feeling the pinch financially, but it has also taken a toll on their mental health, with three in four households admitting that the rising cost of living had impacted them mentally.

One in three households also anticipated their financial standing to further deteriorate, reflecting a pessimistic outlook for their future.

Parents also expressed concern over the children’s future, as 78% of them were struggling with the high cost of education.

The report also provided six key suggestions as a mitigation measure. These included care allowance for all children from before birth until the age of two, allowance for the disabled, more social aid and increasing awareness on sexual, reproductive and mental health.

Acknowledging that the current minimum wage is too low and insufficient, it also proposed fair wages.

“After taking into account several key factors such as cost of living, median salary, poverty line threshold and productivity, the actual minimum wage should be at RM2102 a month instead of the present RM1,500. The minimum wage must be reviewed,” it said.

It also called for better social security coverage with all self-employed individuals being required to contribute to EPF and Socso. It added that EPF and Socso coverage must be made compulsory for all workers, especially those in the informal sector.

2 thoughts on “Rising cost of living causing children in low-cost housing to eat less than three meals a day

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you want to know the truth about someone who is still alive or someone who has died, then ask about it from the person’s closest acquaintances and not just listen to stories from the mouths of strangers because what comes out of the mouths of strangers is mostly inaccurate and mostly judgmental.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is where the integrity of transparent communication between one person after another begins.

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