THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World’ it released on Tuesday, warned that urbanisation excludes hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns from vital services.
According to the UNICEF report, greater urbanisation is inevitable and in a few years, majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population.
UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said: “When we think of poverty, the image that traditionally comes to mind is that of a child in a rural village. But today, an increasing number of children living in slums and shanty towns are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world, deprived of the most basic services and denied the right to thrive.
“Excluding these children in slums not only robs them of the chance to reach their full potential, it robs their societies of the economic benefits of having a well-educated, healthy urban population.”
Cities, the report continued, offer many children the advantages of urban schools, clinics and playgrounds. Yet, the same cities the world over are also the settings for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities.
It noted that infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth in many regions and children’s basic needs are not being met. “Families living in poverty often pay more for substandard services. Water, for instance, can costs 50 times more in poor neighbourhoods where residents have to buy it from private vendors, than it costs in wealthier neighbourhoods where households are connected directly to water mains,” the report said.
It added: “The deprivations endured by children in poor urban communities are often obscured by broad statistical averages that lump together all city dwellers – rich and poor alike. When averages such as these are used in making urban policy and allocating resources, the needs of the poorest can be overlooked.”