News / Africa

Report: Urban African Kids Risk Exploitation

African children face growing risks as urban populations grow. (Credit: Save the Children)
African children face growing risks as urban populations grow. (Credit: Save the Children)
Joe DeCapua
A humanitarian group has warned that children living in African cities are at increasing risk of exploitation, abuse and disease. Save the Children says most of the continent’s children eventually will live in urban areas.


A new report said right now about 200 million children live in African urban areas, and the numbers are steadily rising. Save the Children said that “social and development policies are ignoring the reality” that more children are living in slums with “devastating impacts.” The report said sub-Saharan African cities have the highest degree of urban poverty and prevalence of slum populations in the world.

Voices from Urban Africa: The impact of urban growth on children is based on research in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, South Africa and Zambia.

“It’s the voices of children in communities. Because we talked to over a thousand children and their families and community members about what are they experiencing? And to me that makes it really urgent when you hear what some of the things that children said to us in this report. I mean one little boy: “When my father cannot find a job to do, he fails to buy food and we stay hungry at home.” On and on. The report is very rich in the voices of children, and it’s something that we need to take seriously,” said Carol Miller, Save the Children’s deputy area director for programs for Africa. 

According to the report, “More than half the world’s population now lives in cities, and each year the number of urban residents increases by nearly 60-million.” It added that by 2050, two-thirds will live in urban areas. In Africa, about one billion people are expected to live in urban areas by 2040.

Miller said, “Africa’s youth population is the fastest growing – ages 15 to 24 – in the world. So the growth rate in secondary cities caused us to pause to think, all right, what are we doing, and what do we need to know to really impact the lives of children?”

The report said many governments “underreport the size of urban populations, especially in slums and informal settlements.”

Miller said there are four priorities that must be addressed to ensure the health and safety of children in urban settings: health and nutrition; livelihoods; education and child protection.

“As we talk to local NGOs, non-governmental organizations across Africa, this issue of unaccompanied children, children on the streets – talking about buses pulling in to Addis Ababa and there are actually people watching to see if a boy or girl is unaccompanied, and then preying on them for sexual purposes, or others. There is a household in Malawi – one that we interviewed – with four children out of school, no adult in the household – relying on an uncle to give them some money now and then – out in the streets begging,” she said.

Urban settings often lack the community protection that exists in rural areas.

“In a rural setting you’re likely to have a grandparent or an auntie or an uncle. People in your community know you. You move to an urban setting and that disappears,” Miller said.

African children often face lack of clean water and sanitation in urban areas. (Credit: Save the Children)African children often face lack of clean water and sanitation in urban areas. (Credit: Save the Children)
x
African children often face lack of clean water and sanitation in urban areas. (Credit: Save the Children)
African children often face lack of clean water and sanitation in urban areas. (Credit: Save the Children)
The report says poor children are often not in school because they face many barriers such as fees, disabilities, lack of food, bullying and sexual harassment. Their health is put at risk, it says, from a lack of clean water and sanitation, poor nutrition and a lack of access to health care due to cost, travel, waiting times or other reasons.

Miller said, “When you have young people moving into urban settings and needing access to reproductive health, for example, and some clinics say, no, we’re not going to provide family planning to this young girl. So what choices does she have?”

Youth unemployment is also a major problem in African cities. Miller said high youth unemployment was a factor in the uprisings during the Arab Spring.

Among its recommendations, Save the Children called for holistic child protection systems like those in developed countries; enhanced hygiene and sanitation awareness and practices; trained community health workers; linking youth skills training to the awarding of grants and loans; better access for the disabled; and quality control, standards and training to support early child care development.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs