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Half Of The Children In Dominican Republic Live In Poverty According To UNICEF

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A little girl sleeps on a bed under the protection of a mosquito net in a flooded area of Santo Domingo, on July 11, 2013 after Tropical Storm Chantal lashed the impoverished Caribbean island of Hispaniola -- shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. A firefighter was killed and more than 6500 people were evacuated in the Dominican Republic as Chantal has now weaken into a 'tropical wave'. AFP PHOTO/Erika SANTELICES (Photo credit should read ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — UNICEF has some grim findings about childhood poverty in the Dominican Republic.

The U.N. agency says half of Dominicans younger than 18 live in poverty, struggling to get enough food, access to safe drinking water and adequate housing. This despite the fact that the Caribbean country's economy has been steadily growing since 1996.

The study conducted with the Dominican economy ministry found that only 30 percent of kids finish primary school and that only 18 percent finish secondary school on time. Those schools are in poor shape: Nearly half have no drinking water and nearly 60 percent have no toilets.

The report was released Wednesday. President Danilo Medina has previously pledged to spend 4 percent of GDP on education, more than previous governments in the country of 9 million people.

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UNICEF: Half of Dominican Children Live in Poverty