News / Africa

UNICEF: Hundreds of Millions of City Children Lack Vital Services

The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World.
The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World.
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations Children's Fund warns hundreds of millions of children who live in cities and towns are excluded from vital services, including health, education, clean water and sanitation.   In this year’s State of the World's Children report, UNICEF describes the grim reality of children growing up in poverty in city slums, which offer few of the benefits available to children of a wealthier class.  

Cities are great places for people who can afford to go to the doctor, get an education and take advantage of the many recreational activities available.  But, cities are not such great places for poor children forced to live in slums and shantytowns.

The U.N. Children’s Fund says these children are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world.  It says they live amid violence and exploitation.  They are deprived of the most basic services and denied a chance to thrive.  

UNICEF’s "State of the World’s Children Report" finds overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in these slums rapidly spread diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the biggest killers of children under five in the world.

The report notes one urban resident in three lives in a slum.  This rises to six in 10 in Africa.  It says many children in slums live close to vital services, such as schools and clinics.  The problem, it says, is they are excluded from these services because of poverty and discrimination.

UNICEF spokeswoman, Marixie Mercado, says these problems begin at birth.

“One-third of children in urban areas are not registered at birth," said Mercado. "That proportion rises almost half in Africa, makes them much more vulnerable to exploitation throughout their lives.  Slum dwellers, for example, living without secure land tenure always live with the permanent risk of being evicted.  This gives them absolutely no incentive to improve their households or their communities and it contributes to a huge sense of insecurity for children and their families.”  

And, UNICEF warns the situation is likely to get worse unless governments put children at the heart of urban planning and improve services for all.  Today, more than half of all people, including more than one billion children, live in urban settings.  By 2050, the United Nations predicts, 70 percent of the world population will live in cities.

Mercado says the increase in the number of slum-dwellers will only add to the deplorable conditions under which so many children are forced to live.

“In Kenya, for example, a study in 2009 showed that stunting rates among children in the slums of Nairobi were almost three times higher than in urban areas in general," she said. "In Bangladesh, mortality rates among children in slums was higher than both the rural and the urban rates, generally.”    

But, the report cites other studies where cities have implemented programs, which are benefiting the poor.  Mexico has an initiative which provides cash to the poorest families to send their children to school and pay for health care.  This operates in both rural and urban areas and is now being followed by other countries.  

UNICEF says steps such as the abolition of medical and school fees will improve children’s health and allow many more children to get an education.  The agency says vital services often are available to the poor, but they are unaware of this.  It says it is important that slum-dwellers be informed of their rights.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid