State of the World's Children Report launched
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Unicef in collaboration with the government of The Gambia through the Department of Social Welfare Tuesday officially launched the yearly flagship report of the situation of the children around the globe dubbed ‘State of the World’s Children Report’, on the theme: 'Children in the Urban World', at Kotu Quarry Marketplace.
The report, which was officially launched by the minister of Health and Social Welfare on behalf of the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, highlighted and examined series of major phenomena shaping the lives of children in the urban settings, including migration, economic shocks and acute disaster risks, among others.
The State of the World's Children 2012 presents the hardship these children face as violations of their rights as well as impediments to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. It further indicated that while cities have long been associated with employment, development and economic growth, hundreds of millions of children in the world's urban areas are growing up amid scarcity and deprivation.
In her official launching statement, Minister Badjie
indicated that the report calls for greater recognition of the community-based
efforts to tackle urban poverty and gives examples of effective partnerships
with the urban poor, including children and adolescents. “The welfare of
children is very high in His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr Yahya Jammeh's
agenda as evident in the development and implementation of the Programme for
Accelerated Growth and Employment,” she stated.
She stressed that government is committed to the MDGs and
have made great strides in children-related development goals, saying it is
worth noting that there is still much more to be done to reach the target by
2015. The Health and Social Welfare minister spoke about the
importance giving information, pointing out that it is useful only if it is
She further stated that data must be disseminated widely and analysed in ways that expose causality and enable effective responses to inequality and exclusion. She said such initiatives are underway in the country, such as demographic and health survey, as more needs to be done to understand how poverty evolves and affects children in the urban environments and why it persists from generation to generation.
Minister Badjie also reminded the gathering that the education policy of the government under the visionary and dynamic leadership of President Jammeh has enabled thousands of girls to attend and complete their education, and that some have proceeded up to university level. “His Excellency has declared this year as the Year for Science and Technology and this has enabled Gambians to be part of the global world of science and technology and most importantly has enhanced the participation of children and youths in this important area,” she added.
Minister Badjie further noted that evidence has shown that adequate housing can protect children and families living in dense urban areas from communicable and chronic diseases as well as injuries and accidents, while maintaining that communities can also help transform social habits, attitudes and practice through simple awareness, campaign and sensitisation.
For her part, Aissatou Diawara, the Unicef country
representative revealed that this year's report examines the situation of
children living in the urban communities and looked at how urbanisation leaves
many of them practically invisible and excluded from vital social services. She
said that more children born in cities already accounted for 60% of the
increase in the urban population in Africa.
“Due to the
rapid increase in the rate of rural-urban migration, services and
infrastructure in most urban communities are not keeping up fast enough,” she
said, adding that many children continue to enjoy the advantages of services
such as schools and hospitals.
She lamened that the poorest and the most vulnerable children become marginalised with very little or no access to basic needs such as health services, education, clean drinking water and secure housing, among a host of others. She dilated on the significance of data, noting that the hardships that children in the poor urban communities live are often hidden by broad data and statistics that tend to combine all those living in urban settings such as both the poor and the wealthy.
Also speaking at the event, Yankuba Colley, the mayor of Kanifing Municipality said it is not a surprise that urban children are generally considered to be better off than rural children in terms of health, education and better housing, among a host of others. He said that cities can indeed offer these advantages, but the reality is that in other parts of the world, thousands of urban children live in deep poverty.
The KM mayor also lamented that children living in the urban slums are exposed to wastes and pollution and some of them such as waste-pickers face particularly high risk of injury and infection. “To attain the right of every child to standard of living adequate for his/her physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development, we need to empower families and care givers to provide adequate and appropriate care and protection to children, since developmental deficiencies that occur during childhood are difficult to reverse,” he added.
Author: Bekai Njie & Momodou Faal