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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs