Child Friendly City

UNICEF is working to create the nation’s first Child Friendly City to ensure no child is left behind in Viet Nam’s biggest city.

Child Friendly City Programme
UNICEF Viet Nam\Truong Viet Hung

The Challenge

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, that bring a complex range of challenges and adverse impacts on children.  This is particularly acute in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam’s fastest growing and most densely populated city, with 45 per cent of its 13 million people under the age of 25.

“More children are facing emerging and growing urban challenges that affect their ability to live, thrive and grow in a safe, clean and resilient environment.”

Despite also being 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 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.

The Solution

To promote and protect better quality lives for vulnerable children in the country’s most prosperous city, UNICEF is partnering local authorities to create Viet Nam’s first Child Friendly City 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. 

“The Child Friendly City initiative will not only improve the lives of children in Ho Chi Minh City, it will directly contribute to Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals: make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” 

It is hoped other major cities in Viet Nam, the capital Ha Hoi and Da Nang, will join the Child Friendly City network to serve as regional models and ensure every child is given a fair start to life and opportunities to live and thrive in a safe environment.