One in four children in North Africa and the Middle East live in poverty, according to a new study from UNICEF.

Based on research conducted among children in 11 countries, the UN child-focused organisation said at least 29 million children are deprived of two or more of the most basic of life's necessities, such as basic education, nutritious food, safe water, sanitation or access to information.

Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), told a conference on child poverty held in Rabat, Morocco, that child poverty is "about so much more than family income". "[I]t’s about access to quality education, healthcare, a home and safe water. When children are deprived of the basics, they are at risk of getting trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty."

Other key findings from the study show:

• Children who live in households headed by an uneducated family member are twice as likely to live in poverty;

• A quarter of children aged five to 17-years-old are not enrolled in school or have fallen two grades behind;

• Almost half of all children live in inadequate housing with poor flooring and overcrowding;

• Almost half of all children are not fully immunised; and, 

• One in five children are forced to walk more than 30 minutes to fetch water or use unsafe drinking water while more than one third of children live in homes with no tap water.

The research was conducted in countries including Algeria, Comoros, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, the State of Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen - which make up more than three quarters of the region's population.