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

    Pentagon: Afghan Hospital Bombing Not a War Crime

    US Central Command's Joseph Votel says probe found tragedy was result of 'extraordinarily intense situation' that included multiple equipment failures

    US Minorities Link Guns with Other Social Ills

    New study finds reduction in gun violence could help lower America’s incarceration rate – the world’s highest - and improve relationships between police, citizens in minority communities

    Speeding Causes Spike in Deaths on South African Roads

    At least 14,000 people die each year from country’s traffic-related incidents; authorities criticized on issues of safety, legal enforcement

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkey Islamists

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora