Children in urban slums most deprived
- Children in urban slums most deprived.....Malia PolitzerThe children of Indias urban poor are in many ways faring no better than their rural counterpartswith roughly similar under-five mortality rates, difficulties in getting healthcare and education and nearly identical levels of child marriage, experts said on Wednesday at the launch of a Unicef report on children and urban poverty.The State of the Worlds Children 2012: Children in the Urban World report warned that even as more people move to cities, hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns are being excluded from critical social services such as healthcare and education.It is known that key child development indicators in rural india are acute, but by disaggregation of urban data from the DLHS (district-level household and facility survey) its found that the lower quintile of the urban poor have similar or worse data indicators compared with the rural population, said Caroline den Dulk, chief of advocacy and partnerships, Unicef India.Indias urban population is estimated at 377 million. The ministry of housing and poverty alleviation estimates that 93 million Indians live in urban slums, with 70% of them concentrated in five statesMaharashtra (35%), Andhra Pradesh (11%), West Bengal (10%), Tamil Nadu and Gujarat (7%). As more families migrate from rural to urban areas seeking greater economic opportunity, that population will only grow. By 2026, nearly 40% of Indias population is expected to live in urban regions.While rural-to-urban migrationone of the factors driving rapid urbanizationmay be aspirational, the children of Indias urban poor face many of the same deprivations and challenges faced by those in rural areas, panellists found, including insufficient education, poor access to water and sanitation, hunger and poor health. Urban children are also more vulnerable to child labour and child trafficking.Unlike the plight of rural children, which is well documented, the reality of the situation of Indias urban poor is often obscured by statistics that lump all residentsrich and poorinto one average, making it difficult for planners to easily identify and address the needs of the urban poor, the report said.A child born in a slum in urban India is as likely to die before her first birthday, to become underweight or anaemic or to be married off before her 18th birthday as a child in rural India, said Karin Hulshof, Unicef representative in India. Unfortunately, for the urban poor child, the situation most of the time is not as visible and gets diluted by a much rosier picture of urban life and opportunities.Children ranking in the lowest 25% of the wealth index in urban areas are equally as likely their rural counterparts to be married by the age of 18, and experience almost the same under-five mortality rates, rates of open defecation, andin the case of urban womenanaemia. Lack of access to water, sanitation, and densely packed housing areas also render urban children more vulnerable to disease. Urban families also have less housing security, and pay five times more than their wealthier counterparts for water. Hulshof also cited migration as a key vulnerability for children, nearly four million of whom migrate seasonally in India each year alone or with their families. A growing number of children are also coming to cities as unaccompanied minors, leaving them vulnerable to abuse, child labour and exploitation, she said.