In 2012, UNICEF Tanzania released a new publication entitled Cities and Children: The Challenge of Urbanisation in Tanzania. The report served as a companion volume to the 2012 State of the World’s Children: Children in an Urban World and provides a valuable glimpse into the lives of the country’s urban youth.
Already, more than one in four Tanzanian children lives in one of the country’s myriad of cities and towns. Given current urban growth rates, this proportion is increasing rapidly.
While national development plans and policies give strong attention to Tanzania’s rural areas, Cities and Children argues that children growing up in urban areas merit greater attention than have received so far. Many of these children, especially those living in unplanned urban settlements, are often no better off, and sometimes are worse off, than their rural peers – in terms of living conditions, access to quality services, infrastructure and amenities, and exposure to risks that are specifically associated with the urban environment and lifestyle.
One aim of the report was to demystify the notion of an unqualified ‘urban advantage’, a notion largely based on the fact that official urban/rural statistics only capture broad aggregates, depicting the status of an “average urban child” who seems invariably better off than rural children, but who doesn’t actually exist — thereby missing out on the countless urban children for whom the promise of a vaunted urban life simply does not hold true. Cities do offer great potential for improving the lives of children, but only if the process of urban growth is managed properly.
Source: UNICEF Tanzania Country Office.