Child Friendly Cities Initiative
UNICEF is working to create Child Friendly Cities to ensure no child is left behind in two big cities of Viet Nam - Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
In Viet Nam, urbanization and migration from rural to urban areas have become major trends over the last three decades. With 32 million people (more than one-third of the population) living in urban areas in 2016, with children accounting for 26 per cent, Viet Nam has one of the largest urban populations in East Asia. While urbanization has led to increased productivity, economic diversification and improved access to services, it has also resulted in deprivation, poverty and marginalization in different dimensions of people’s well-being. Viet Nam has continued to experience heightened migration to industrialized zones in urban areas, which bring a complex range of challenges and adverse impacts on children. That is particularly acute in big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
Ho Chi Minh city is the country’s richest city, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP) and a per capita GDP three times the national average. This wealth, however, hides a magnitude of poverty and disparities that affect the urban poor, including children. Around 60,000 children in the city are in need of special protection, while the city has the highest number of children suffering from acute malnutrition (32,000). Children from the poorest urban households are unable to gain equitable access to vital services, a recipe for inter-generational cycles of inequity and poverty.
Da Nang is the third largest city of Viet Nam, an economic, culture and social hub of the central region. Although Da Nang has made considerable progress in socio-economic development, the city is still facing a number of problems such as the growing disparity between urban and rural areas, rapid urbanization and immigration, impacts of climate change and natural disasters, environmental pollution, impacts of the pandemic, etc. Challenges to children’s development in the city include nutrition issues, overweight and obesity, protection issues, child abuse, especially protecting children in the online environment, out-of-school children, early childhood education for children, especially in industrial parks, inclusive education for children with disabilities, participation of children, especially disadvantaged children and children with difficult circumstances, etc.
To promote and protect better quality lives for vulnerable children, UNICEF is partnering with the local authorities to create Child Friendly Cities so the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children are an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions. This will be achieved through providing social services to marginalized children, child-focused urban planning and budgeting, strengthening partnerships with urban communities and evidence of children in urban areas to inform policy. This initiative will expand partnerships across civil society, the private sector and international organizations to improve the situation of poor children and those at risk of exploitation and abuse.
“A child friendly city is a place that puts children’s wellbeing at the heart of its socio-economic development. Cities do that through making sure that policies and budgets are child-centered, by measuring our progress and holding ourselves accountable for progressive improvement on key child related indicators, and by ensuring that all of the above are informed by the voices of children and young people”
In early 2022, a national conference sharing experience on the implementation of CFCI was hosted in Da Nang and drew the attention of several cities and provinces in Viet Nam. More cities and provinces in Viet Nam are expected to embrace and join the initiative based on good practices and lessons learned from Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.