UNICEF's 2012 State of the World's Children report calls for new
approach to growing urban challenges
TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2012 /CNW/ - The failure of cities to keep up with
rapidly growing populations has led to larger inequalities among
millions of children worldwide UNICEF revealed today in its 2012 State
of the World's Children report titled; Children in an Urban World.
An urban childhood is increasingly becoming the norm. Currently more
than half of the world's population lives in cities and by 2050 this
number is expected to grow to two thirds.
"Child rights must become a more prominent part of the urban agenda,"
says David Morley UNICEF Canada's President and CEO. "Assumptions are
made that proximity to hospitals and schools ensure access but this
simply is not true. The hardships endured by millions of children in
cities are too often invisible."
The most disadvantaged children in urban areas face threats to their
survival, health, education, shelter, safety and their rights as
Inequality and vulnerability are reinforced when the poor are denied
official documentation, rendering them invisible to policy makers. More
than one third of children in urban slum areas go unregistered at birth
and this rises to half of all children in urban parts of sub-Saharan
Africa and South Asia.
Vast numbers of these children also come from families who lack title to
their homes. With no protection against forcible eviction they can lose
the little they have without warning or redress.
Urban youth also face distinct challenges including increased threats
from economic shocks, violence, crime and natural disasters. For
example young people frustrated by few economic opportunities accounted
for a significant proportion of demonstrators in the recent wave of
protests across cities in the Middle East and North Africa. In much of
this region the number of skilled jobs has simply not matched demand.
Urban poor are also particularly vulnerable to rising food and fuel
prices as they already spend 50 to 80 per cent of their income on food.
In comparison, the average Canadian family spends only 10 per cent.
"There is growing evidence that the epicenter of poverty and
undernutrition among children is gradually shifting from rural to urban
areas. Children growing up in urban poverty face a particularly complex
set of challenges to their development and fulfillment of their
rights," says Morley.
The 2012 report calls for a new approach to addressing urban challenges
which puts children at the heart of urban development and focuses on
policies that prioritize the needs of the most disadvantaged.
Key findings in UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2012
More data is needed to better understand the inequalities faced by urban
poor, particularly children. This data must go beyond national averages
and rural-urban comparisons so the challenges people living in urban
poverty face are better understood and can be effectively addressed.
Hunger and under nutrition have grown in cities. The rates at which
children in urban poverty are undernourished or die before reaching the
age of five can rival rates in poor rural areas.
Access to improved water and sanitation is not keeping pace with urban
population growth. In slums water can cost up to 50 times as much as in
other neighbourhoods in the same city.
Natural hazards such as cyclones and mudslides become acute disasters in
urban areas, their impact is intensified by overcrowding, flimsy homes
and long-term failures in the provision of health, water and sanitation
Policy makers must ensure urban planning and investments are grounded in
a commitment to equity and human rights.
For more information on these and other key findings in UNICEF's 2012
State of the World's Children report please see the Children in an
Urban World Info-graphics and visit www.unicef.ca/sowc2012
About The State of the World's Children Report
The State of the World's Children Report is UNICEF's authoritative
annual assessment of the well-being of children worldwide, with country
by country and region by region statistics. Every year the report
explores a specific challenge to child well-being. The 2012 edition
highlights children living in urban areas.
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development
agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save
children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country.
Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse
partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which
no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by
voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race,
religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.
SOURCE UNICEF Canada
For further information:
or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Media Relations Specialist, UNICEF Canada office;
416-482-6552 ext. 8892 cell: 416-806-2764