Making cities fit for children
TIRANA, 28 February 2012 - Urbanization leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services, UNICEF warns in The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World, which is published today.
UNICEF’s annual flagship report warns that some of the greatest disparities exist in urban areas. Many cities worldwide are failing children. Greater urbanization is inevitable. More than half of the world’s people now live in urban areas. According to the preliminary 2011 census results, this is true for Albania, too.
“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. But today, an increasing number of children living in poor urban areas are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world. “Excluding these children not only robs them of the chance to reach their full potential; it robs their societies of the economic benefits of having a well-educated, healthy urban population,” Lake added.
Cities offer many children the advantages of urban schools, clinics and playgrounds. Cities provide opportunities for everyone, and the economies of scale can make good quality services much more affordable.
Yet the same cities the world over are also the settings for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities. The deprivations endured by children in poor urban communities are often obscured by broad statistical averages that lump together all city dwellers – rich and poor alike. When averages such as these are used in making urban policy and allocating resources, the needs of the poorest can be overlooked.
A focus on equity is crucial – where priority is given to the most disadvantaged children.
UNICEF urges governments to put children at the heart of urban planning and to extend and improve services for all. More focused, accurate data are needed to help identify disparities among children in urban areas and how to bridge them.
In Tirana and other major cities in Albania, children of poor families often live in close proximity with children who are much better off. Children from both groups need the same quality of health care, education and protection. Children from disadvantaged families can break the cycle of poverty, if the cities provide for equal services and ensure that poor children are well integrated in kindergarten and schools. And protect the most vulnerable children, including those from the Roma community, from abuse and neglect. No child must be forced to live and work on the street.
“We don't want children from poor families getting lost in the urban agendas. All children need to be treated and served equally” - said Detlef Palm UNICEF Representative.
For further information, please contact the UNICEF office in Tirana: