Third Annual Report on Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Released Today

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Government released today a report on assistance to highly vulnerable children in developing countries, U.S. Government and Partners: Working Together on a Comprehensive, Coordinated and Effective Response to Highly Vulnerable Children.

Seven federal departments and agencies - Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, State, Peace Corps, and USAID - provided approximately $5 billion to assist highly vulnerable children and families in FY 2008.

However, according to the report, the situation for children worldwide remains deeply distressing. The global economic crisis is making more children vulnerable and constraining the availability of resources to help them. The report offers a sobering statistical summary of the effects of poverty, bad governance, conflict, disaster and disease on children. For example, an estimated:

  • 428,000,000 children are living in extreme poverty;
  • 150,000,000 girls have experienced sexual abuse;
  • 163,000,000 children have lost one or both parents;
  • 18,300,000 children have lost both parents;
  • 2,000,000 children are in institutional care;
  • 218,000,000 children are engaged in various forms of labor; and
  • 1,800,000 children are engaged in prostitution and pornography.

The majority of children who are refugees, internally displaced, living on the streets or in institutions, associated with armed groups, vulnerable to trafficking and child labor, or suffering the effects of HIV/AIDS tend to have one thing in common: extreme poverty. The report asserts that poverty is a more consistent predictor of children's vulnerability than orphanhood.

The report provides recent data and research findings on orphans and orphanhood. Surveys show that the vast majority of the estimated163 million orphans worldwide in 2008 live with a surviving parent or kin. Orphans are defined by the UN as children who have lost one or both parents.

The report outlines priorities for USG assistance to highly vulnerable children in 2010 and beyond. These include:

  • Increase support for the economic strengthening of extremely poor households to keep families intact and improve their ability to care for their children; and,
  • Increase support for child welfare and child-friendly social protection system strengthening; particularly workforce development.

The report was submitted to Congress in accordance with Public Law 109-95, the Assistance to Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005. PL 109-95 was signed into law four years ago to respond to the global orphans and vulnerable children's crisis. It calls for the U.S. Government response to the crisis to be comprehensive, coordinated and effective. The report can be accessed at

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Last updated: June 15, 2012

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