Childhood is mostly experienced in urban contexts
An estimated 60% of urban residents will be below 18 years old in 2030.¹
Over 90% of urban growth will occur in Asia and Africa.
Photo: Sima Diab / Save the Children
There is a longstanding assumption that children in urban areas are better off than their rural counterparts. But urban areas are growing increasingly unequal.
Average indicators taken over a whole urban area often hide the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable urban residents.
Moreover, the lack of reliable data makes it difficult to estimate the magnitude of the problem.
About 35-50% of the over 1 billion people living in slums are children
Of the over 1 billion people living in slums globally, approximately 350 to 500 million are children.2 A country of this size would be the third biggest in the world. The rate of urban population growth is quickly outpacing the ability of local governments to plan urban settlements to meet demands for housing and infrastructure. As a result increasing numbers of children will be growing up in slums and informal settlements.
¹ UNFPA, 2007, State of World Population
2 UN DESA, 2018, The 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects
3 UNICEF. 2015, Keeping children safe on the road.
4 WHO, 2018, More than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day.
5 WHO, 2020, Malnutrition
6 Popkin BM, Corvalan C, Grummer-Strawn LM, 2020, Dynamics of the double burden of malnutrition and the changing nutrition reality..Lancet;395(10217):65-74. d.
7 Tasnim, 2018, Determinants of malnutrition in children under five years in developing countries: a systematic review. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development, 9(6), 333-338.
8 Lawler et al., 2011, Children’s Vulnerability to Climate Change and Disaster Impacts in East Asia and the Pacific. UNICEF, East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.
10 UNHCR, 2018, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018.
11 UNHCR, 2019, Global Trends in Forced Displacement.
12 United Nations Committee for the Co-ordination of Statistical Activities, 2020, How COVID-19is changing the world: a statistical perspective
13 Sabry and Clacherty, 2021, The Hidden Impact of COVID-19 on Children in Urban Contexts. London, Save the Children International.
14 UNDRR, 2020, Words into Action guidelines: Implementation guide for land use and urban planning.
15 UNSTATS, 2020, The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020.