A year on, low income urban families remain struggling

by AZREEN HANI/ pic by BERNAMA

MORE than half of low-income households in the city remain unable to meet essential expenses, as 6 in 10 were unable to purchase enough food for their families, the final edition of Families on the Edge (FOE) study revealed.

According to the latest survey conducted in March 2021, median household earnings (excluding government assistance) among participant families remain five (5) per cent lower than pre-crisis level.

However, Covid-19 pandemic continued to drag the livelihoods of the low income families, despite various government aids such as Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR) and EduTV (DidikTV).

The study also found 1 in 3 reported difficulties in providing enough money for their children to buy meals once they returned to school.

“We are delighted to see that socio-economic indicators had nearly returned to pre-crisis levels for many families, but this is not true for all,” said Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, Representative for UNICEF in Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam.

“The real impact of a year of hardship and uncertainty is now apparent in terms of the mental wellbeing of women and children, with significant implications for children’s learning among other issues,” he added.

He highlighted that over 6 in 10 of the parents surveyed called for advice on how to best support their children through this period.

The fourth and final report in the Families on the Edge series is based on data collection conducted by the project team in February and March 2021.

This update describes the socio-economic status and wellbeing of a group of 500 families with children in Kuala Lumpur’s low-cost flats.

The mixed methods study, covering a period of over 10 months, involves a socio-economic study, wellbeing interviews, as well as a child-led photography component.

In March 2021, the FOE study found that low income urban families in Kuala Lumpur continued to be affected with the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, with the unemployment rate among head of households has more than doubled to 12% compared to 5% in December 2019.