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Slum kids 'are at greatest risk'

Infrastructure not keeping up with rising urban populations

Slum kids 'are at greatest risk'
Urban slum kids are most vulnerable, says UNICEF (photo: UNICEF, Giacomo Pirozzi)

Published: March 01, 2012 09:58 AM GMT

Updated: March 01, 2012 10:10 AM GMT

Hundreds of millions of urban children remain excluded from access to vital services such as healthcare and education, said the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in a report launched today. Titled “The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World,” the UNICEF report said that children living in the urban slums are the most disadvantaged groups in the world. “When we think of poverty, the image that traditionally comes to mind is that of a child in a rural village,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a press statement. “But today, an increasing number of children living in slums and shantytowns are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world, deprived of the most basic services and denied the right to thrive.” The report further states that a majority of children will be raised in urban areas in the future and that children born in cities already account for 60 percent of the increase in urban populations, according to a UNICEF press statement. “The report finds that 28 percent of the total population (41.7 million people) in Bangladesh is living in urban areas. Among the top 21 mega cities, Dhaka is placed in 9th position with 14.3 million people, while Tokyo (36.5 million), Delhi (21.7 million), and Sao Paolo (20 million) are in top three positions,” the statement said. Meanwhile, services and infrastructure are not keeping pace with population growth, according to UNICEF. “Children in slums and deprived neighborhoods are often invisible to decision makers and lost in a hazy world of statistical averages that conceal grave inequalities”, said UNICEF Bangladesh representative Pascal Villeneuve. While parents in Dhaka, Bangladesh, spend an average 10 percent of household income per child on schooling costs, this rises to 20 percent in the poorest families, according to UNICEF. Again, in Bangladesh 18 percent of children in slums attended secondary school, compared with 53 percent in urban areas as a whole and 48 percent in rural areas. In Bangladesh, a 2009 survey indicates that the under-five mortality rate in slums is 79 percent higher than the overall urban rate and 44 percent higher than the rural rate. Amid such a scenario, UNICEF has urged governments to put children at the heart of urban planning and to extend and improve services for all. Related reports Millions of children face new malnutrition risk

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