|© UNICEF United Republic of Tanzania/2012/Joynson-Hicks|
|The report 'Cities and Children: The Challenge of Urbanisation in Tanzania’ stresses that, while national development plans and policies give strong attention to rural areas in the United Republic of Tanzania, children growing up in urban areas merit greater attention than they have received so far.|
By Cristina Praz
DAR ES SALAAM, United Republic of Tanzania, 26 November 2012 – UNICEF’s new publication ‘Cities and Children: The Challenge of Urbanisation in Tanzania’ says that within the short span of a generation, more than one-third of the country’s children will be raised in a city or town.
The report calls for greater emphasis on identifying and meeting these children’s needs.
The promise – and the reality – of the city
Produced by UNICEF, in close collaboration with civil society partners and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, ‘Cities and Children: The Challenge of Urbanisation in Tanzania’ highlights key challenges and opportunities for the United Republic of Tanzania’s urban children.
The report echoes ‘State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World,’ UNICEF’s flagship report on the same theme, arguing that growing up urban can offer children the chance for a brighter future, or the grim conditions in which so many are now living in the sprawling cities of the African continent.
‘Cities and Children: The Challenge of Urbanisation in Tanzania’ stresses that, while national development plans and policies give strong attention to the country’s rural areas, children growing up in urban areas merit greater attention than they have received so far. Many of these children, especially those living in unplanned urban settlements, are often not better off, and, in some cases, are even worse off, than their rural peers – in terms of: living conditions; access to quality services, infrastructure and amenities; and exposure to risks specifically associated with the urban environment and lifestyle.
The report demystifies the notion of an unqualified ‘urban advantage,’ or a depiction of the status of an ‘average urban child’ who seems invariably better off than the rural child. It clarifies that this notion is largely based on official urban/rural statistics that capture only broad aggregates, and that this average child does not actually exist. Countless urban children for whom the promise of an advantaged urban life simply does not hold true are overlooked.
Cities can offer great potential for improving the lives of children, but only if the process of urban growth is managed properly.
Committed to doing more
UNICEF United Republic of Tanzania anticipates that the report will help foster a national dialogue on the issue of urbanization and its impact on the country’s children and their families. It is currently organizing a series of consultations with key stakeholders, including children.
The first such consultation recently took place in Mtwara at the Tanzania's Cities Network (TACINE) Annual Meeting. At this meeting, more than fifty mayors and municipal directors were briefed on the impact of urbanization and urged to work on the development of an action plan to make sure poor urban children do not lag behind.
A youth version of ‘Cities and Children: The Challenge of Urbanisation in Tanzania’ will be widely distributed to schools and civil society organizations working with children to engage as many young people as possible.
“The main purpose of this important report is to give visibility to an issue that has so far not received much attention. Tanzania is urbanizing rapidly and in a largely unplanned manner, with serious implications for children and their families. If we do not act now, the children of this country will be the ones to suffer the most,” says UNICEF United Republic of Tanzania Representative Jama Gulaid.
‘Cities and Children: The Challenge of Urbanisation in Tanzania’ is the second consecutive publication that UNICEF United Republic of Tanzania has produced as a companion volume to State of the World’s Children. Last year, a report was published on ‘Adolescence in Tanzania.’ The aim is to give visibility to issues that have so far not received much attention and to ensure that children remain a priority in the United Republic of Tanzania.