UNICEF stresses on planned urban development

Report says planned development will help the urban poor children meet their needs


Jasleen Kaur | February 29, 2012

The UNICEF’s report – The State of The World’s Children 2012, Children in an Urban World says there are 97 million urban poor in India and the population projection shows that almost 40% of the population would shift to urban areas by 2026. One out of three people in urban areas is a migrant. There are around 49,000 urban slums in India and 70% of them are in five states -- Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat

It is believed that child’s health and survival, education, protection or sanitation is better in urban areas than in rural areas. But the report shows great inequity within the cities because urban opportunities are not evenly spread.

In Delhi, around 54 percent children from slums attended primary school in 2004-05, compared with 90 percent of children across the city.

The report says that though the RTE has played an important role in sending children to school a lot more needs to be done.

Children living or working on the street, children living in slums, migrant and displaced children, those without formal registration and those trafficked are the most vulnerable. The report says that in some cases children living in urban poverty are as likely to die before the age of five or be malnourished as those in the rural areas. Urban areas have better health facilities but kids may not be able to avail them. Half of the urban poor girls get married before 18 years and almost half of the pregnant women can't have access to safe delivery. Also, six out of 10 women are anemic.

Children in low income urban areas are often exposed to high risk of respiratory disease. The rural-urban gap in nutrition has narrowed in recent decades. Urban undernutrition rates were found to be very high in a 2005-2006 study. Among the poorest urban residents, 54% children were found to be stunted, indicating they had been seriously undernourished for some time, compared with 33 percent among rest of the urban population.

Sudhir Kumar Additional Secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Welfare said there are schemes like ICPS and ICDS which are working to improve the condition of children. He added, “The government is on the verge of making 12th five year plan and tracking every child will be an important element of this plan.”

A majority of the health problems faced by urban poor children are because of unsafe water and poor sanitation. Across the world, an estimated 1.2 million children die before the age of five from diarrhoea. Also, the number of poor people who defecate in the open increased from 140 million in 1990 to 169 million in 2008.

The report says that it is important to ensure urban planning and infrastructure development to reduce poverty and inequality to meet the needs and priorities of children.



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