DHAKA: The UNICEF Wednesday warned that the urbanization has deprived hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns of getting vital services.
The forewarning came from a report titled on ‘State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World’ prepared by UNICEF published at a programme held at the National Press Club Wednesday.
The report reads that a total of 28 percent of the total population (41.7 million people) in Bangladesh is living in urban areas.
The report also highlights that among the top 21 megacities Dhaka is placed in the 9th position with 14.3 million people, while Tokyo (36.5 million), Delhi (21.7 million), Sao Paolo (20.0 million) are in top three positions.
Secretary of the Planning Ministry Bhuiyan Shafiqul Islam, Chairman of Janata Bank Professor Abul Barkat, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh Pascal Villeneuve, thirteen year old child representative Moushumi Akhter also spoke at the programme.
The report said the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 percent of the increase in urban population.
In his speech UNICEF Representative Pascal Villeneuve urged the government and other partners to address the rights of children living in poor urban communities, particularly those living in the slums.
Addressing the function Pascal Villeneuve said, “Children in slums and deprived neighborhoods are often invisible to decision makers and lost in a hazy world of statistical averages that conceal grave inequalities.”
The report mentioned that cities offer many children the advantages of urban schools, clinics and playgrounds. Yet the same cities the world over are also the settings for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities.
Infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth in many regions and children’s basic needs are not being met. Families are living in poverty often pay more for substandard services.
Water, for instance, can cost 50 times more in poor neighborhoods where residents have to buy it from private vendors than it costs in wealthier neighbourhoods where households are connected directly to water mains.
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. While parents in Dhaka, Bangladesh, spend an average 10 percent of household income per child on schooling costs, this rises to 20 percent in the poorest families.
Again, in Bangladesh, according to 2009 data, the differences were even more pronounced at the secondary level: 18 percent of children in slums attended secondary school, compared with 53 percent in urban areas as a whole and 48 percent in rural areas.
When averages such as these are used in making urban policy and allocating resources, the needs of the poorest can be overlooked.
There is growing evidence that living in a socio-economically disadvantaged urban areas increases the under-five mortality even after the data have been adjusted for factors such as mother’s education or income.
For instance, in Bangladesh, recent data 2009 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicate that the under-five mortality rate in slums is 79 percent higher than the overall urban rate and 44 percent higher than the rural rate.
The report also underlines the fact that HIV prevalence remains generally higher in urban areas.
A 2010 review of estimates from more than 60 countries found that while HIV infection rate had stabilized or decreased in most countries, including those worst affected, it had risen by more than 25 percent in seven, Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and Tajikistan.
BDST: 1810 HRS, FEB 29, 2012
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