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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid