7th Jul 2022

Covid-19: Romania's rural kids hit hardest by pandemic

  • Over 60 percent of parents in the countryside have not worked during the pandemic, and close to half are unable to provide adequate food, medicine, hygiene products or school supplies for their children (Photo: World Vision)

One-in-ten children in Romania does not have enough food and ends up going to bed hungry, a study released by World Vision Romania, an NGO fighting child-exclusion, shows.

The pandemic and its economic fallout took its toll on Romania's most impoverished regions, where - in comparison to previous years - a greater number of people now resort to buying less food and relying on food received from friends and relatives, all against a backdrop of falling income.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The drop in the quality of life hits the youngest the hardest, as one-in-five children from rural areas considers themselves to have never, or only rarely, felt happy (Photo: World Vision)

The study reveals that over 60 percent of parents in the countryside have not worked during the pandemic, and close to half are unable to provide adequate food, medicine, hygiene products or school supplies for their children.

The drop in the quality of life hits the youngest the hardest, as one-in-five children from rural areas considers themselves to have never, or only rarely, felt happy.

"The pandemic only made matters worse. Ever since restrictions began, we noticed that communities have been affected by social isolation, school closure, job loss, declining family income and overall health challenges, translating into an increased level of anxiety and fear in both parents and children", Mihaela Nabăr, head of World Vision Romania, told EUobserver.

The percentage for digital schooling is also at its lowest in rural areas. 40 percent of pupils have never attended classes held online, as more than half of parents in Romania's villages do not own a digital device to allow remote learning .

Also, one-in -three villages have very weak, or no, internet signal to allow children to get in touch with their teachers.

Rural areas in Romania have long had alarmingly-high dropout rates, which can only be exacerbated by the lack of digital equipment, after schools across the country went online.

An epicentre of poverty

If the Romanian countryside is underperforming in general in comparison to the rest of the country, no region has it worse than Vaslui county.

Not only does it register the highest unemployment in Romania, expected only to increase under Covid-19, but Vaslui is also notorious for one of the highest dropout-rates in the country, with 10 percent of high school students failing to complete school.

Vaslui county is one of EU's poorest regions, with Eurostat numbers showing GDP-per-capita only at 39-percent of the EU average.

The region's economy has been stagnant for years, providing little hope for change to the parents and their kids who have to study in one of the hundreds of schools equipped with only outdoor toilets, no running water or heating and wooden floors that can collapse at any time.

The lack of basic amenities - running water, indoor plumbing - both at home and at school challenges families with already dwindling earnings in following even the simplest hygiene measures to prevent infection with coronavirus.

It is expected that following the Covid-19 pandemic, the level of social exclusion, inequality and poverty will increase amongst kids, particularly those in rural areas.

This risk appears to be growing across the entire EU, as a recent report by the European Court of Auditors said that member states should urgently coordinate efforts to fight child poverty.

The auditors recommended that the EU Commission should set clear targets in reducing child poverty, as around one-in-four children are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the 27-nation bloc.

That report shows Romania to top the list with 38 percent of its children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, while Denmark, the Netherland and Slovenia report the lowest such rates.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

Romania: Inside the EU's worst healthcare, as virus hits

The country's lack of investment in the medical system, widespread corruption, politically-appointed hospital managers and staff shortages (as droves of doctors and nurses left to work in other European countries), severely weakened Romania's ability to deal with an emergency.

Uneven supply sees Romanians hitting road for Covid jab

Those who want to get the jab have to register and book a place on the government-run vaccination platform at the clinic nearest to them - which, for many in large urban areas, proved impossible to do.


'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements

Some modest headway in recognising the unrelenting tide of discrimination and violence facing women worldwide was made at last week's largely self-congratulatory and mostly irrelevant G7 talk-fest. But no one mentioned abortion, just days after the Roe vs Wade decision.


How industry watered-down new EU supply chain rules

The Commission fell hook, line, and sinker for the arguments of big business on the corporate due diligence directive — conflating rules and regulations with so-called 'red tape' and rebranding regulations as 'burdens' on business which should be scrapped.

News in Brief

  1. Danish ministers no longer allowed to delete text messages
  2. Report: British PM Johnson to resign today
  3. British PM defiant amid spate of resignations
  4. France says EU fiscal discipline rules 'obsolete'
  5. Russia claims untouchable status due to nuclear arsenal
  6. Catalan MEPs lose EU court case over recognition
  7. 39 arrested in migrant-smuggling dragnet
  8. France to nationalise nuclear operator amid energy crisis

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor
  2. Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?
  3. EU should freeze all EU funds to Hungary, says study
  4. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  5. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  6. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  7. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia
  8. 'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us