Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


UNICEF Report: Increased Cost Of Living Adds Pressure On Low-income Urban Families

Poverty is especially prevalent among female-headed households and households headed by people with disabilities, according to key findings by UNICEF.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 – Among low-income families surveyed, female-headed households and those headed by a person with disability face significantly greater challenges and are in more dire situations, according to UNICEF’s Living on the Edge key findings, which was launched yesterday.

The new report is a follow-up to the Families on the Edge (FOE) study released during the Covid-19 pandemic. It explores post-pandemic recovery pathways of these households in the context of increased cost of living, recommending strengthened social protection to ensure minimum social protection floors are available especially for the most vulnerable.

“Ensuring post-pandemic recovery means caring for the most vulnerable: low-income families, especially households headed by women and individuals with disabilities,” said Juanita Vasquez-Escallon, chief of social policy at UNICEF Malaysia. 

“Life isn’t solely about sustenance but also about the quality of life. Investing in both ensures that children and families not only survive but flourish, nurturing a future where every individual has the opportunity to bloom.”

The Living on the Edge key findings show that while families have recovered in terms of employment and income, poverty persists with 41 per cent experiencing absolute poverty, and 17 per cent facing hardcore poverty.

This is especially prevalent among female-headed households and households headed by people with disabilities. 

Increasing living costs have exacerbated hardships, with eight out of 10 families struggling to meet basic needs, resulting in extreme choices like reducing food intake. The impact on mental health is noticeable, with one out of four experiencing depression, notably higher than during the pandemic.

Living on the Edge focuses on a post-pandemic survey, conducted from October 14, 2023, to November 16, 2023, with data collected from a total of 755 low-income households living in sixteen low-cost public housing in Kuala Lumpur. 

The sample consists of 501 households with approximately 30 per cent representing respondents previously interviewed under the FOE project, with a booster sample of 254 households consisting of households led by women. 

Based on Ministry of Housing and Local Government statistics from 2022, there are 32,762 PPR units rented out and 2,100 PPR units owned located in Kuala Lumpur.

The Living on the Edge key findings contains policy recommendations that include:

  • Universal Childcare Allowance: An affordable RM200 per month allowance for all pregnant mothers, up to the child is 2-years-old, would be the first step in a progressive expansion of social protection floors for children in Malaysia.
  • Universal Allowance for People With Disabilities: A universal allowance is crucial to provide an adequate level of income security and complement the existing health care and employment protection. Concurrently, there should be extended allowance to primary caregivers (who are mostly women) of the disabled family members.
  • Enhancements to Social Assistance: The Department of Social Welfare (JKM) should extend assistance to those below the poverty line income, or those households with monthly income less than RM2,589 (RM681 per capita). Currently, assistance is only given to households with RM1,198 per month (RM315 per capita).
  • Improved Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Awareness and Mental Wellbeing: Community outreach programmes on SRHR need to be expanded to equip men, women, and families with essential knowledge, facilitating early planning, informed decision-making, and ensuring access to preventive care. There is also a pressing need to bolster community-based interventions, including support groups, to effectively tackle mental health challenges and cultivate overall mental well-being in communities.
  • Provide Fair Wages: Taking into consideration key factors such as cost of living, poverty line income, and productivity, calculation shows that the minimum wage should be set at RM2,287 per month, instead of RM1,500 per month currently. Current living wage as proposed by the Central Bank of Malaysia is RM2,700.
  • Improved Social Protection: All workers, regardless of status of employment, to be covered by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (SOCSO), to protect them against injury, unemployment, and inadequate or no income during old age.

You May Also Like


Disebabkan kemajuan pesat yang telah dicapai dalam platform teknologi pembiakan, adalah penting untuk memulakan perbincangan di kalangan sarjana Islam, pakar kesuburan, saintis bioperubatan, penggubal...


“History shows that hate speech has also been used to intentionally mobilise groups and societies against each other in order to provoke escalation of...


The nursing education sponsorship will guarantee five years of employment with KL International Hospital.


The permissibility of adding conditions to marriage contracts can ensure equal rights to divorce, promote fair division of household chores and domestic and financial...