Children in an urban world 1
The experience o childhood is increasingly urban. Over hal the world’s people – including more than a billion children –now live in cities and towns.While cities have long been associated with employment,development and economic growth, hundreds o millionso children in the world’s urban areas are growing up amidscarcity and deprivation.
The State of the World’s Children2012
presents the hardships these children ace as viola-tions o their rights as well as impediments to ullling theMillennium Development Goals. The report examines majorphenomena shaping the lives o children in urban settings,including migration, economic shocks and acute disaster risk.Progress is possible.
The State of the World’s Children 2012
provides examples o eorts to improve the urban realitiesthat children conront and identies broad policy actionsthat should be included in any strategy to reach excludedchildren and oster equity in urban settings riven by disparity.
chlden n nnesngl bn wold
Every year, the world’s urban population increases by about60 million. By 2050, 7 in 10 people will live in cities andtowns. Most urban growth is taking place in Asia and Arica.Migration rom the countryside has long driven urbanexpansion and remains a major actor in some regions. Butthe last comprehensive estimate, made in 1998, suggests thatchildren born into existing urban populations account oraround 60 per cent o urban growth.Many children enjoy the advantages that urban lie oers,including access to educational, medical and recreationalacilities. Too many, however, are denied such essentials asclean water, electricity and health care – even though theymay live close to these services. Too many are orced intodangerous and exploitative work instead o being able toattend school. And too many ace a constant threat o evic-tion, although they already live under the most challengingconditions – in ramshackle dwellings and overcrowdedsettlements that are highly vulnerable to disease and disaster.The hardships endured by children in poor urban commu-nities are oten concealed – and thus perpetuated – by thestatistical averages on which development programmes anddecisions about resource allocation are based. Because aver-ages lump everyone together, the poverty o some is obscuredby the wealth o others. One consequence o this is that chil-dren already deprived remain excluded rom essential services.Where detailed urban data are available, they reveal dispar-ities in children’s rates o survival, nutritional status andeducation resulting rom unequal access to services. All overthe world, hundreds o millions o children in impoverishedurban neighbourhoods and inormal settlements conrontdaily violations o their rights despite living close to insti-tutions and services. In many countries, children living inurban poverty are as badly as, or worse than, children livingin rural poverty when it comes to undernutrition and under-ve mortality.The urban experience is all too oten one o poverty andexclusion. About one third o the world’s urban popula-tion lives in slum conditions, and in Arica that proportionis greater than 60 per cent. Some 1.4 billion people will live
© U N I C E F / N Y H Q 2 0 0 6 - 1 7 6 8 / M i c h a e l K a m b e r
A boy stands on railroad tracks in Kibera, a slum area o Nairobi, Kenya, as fressmoulder in the background. Over a quarter o the city’s population lives in Kibera.The train does not stop there.