Today the world experiences tremendous urban growth where half of the world’s people and children live in towns and cities. Unfortunately, urban settings are not an ideal place for children and poor children are even more expose to the serious risks to their growth, welfare and development.
The Philippines is among those countries with growing urban communities. There are an estimated 1.7 million children in Metro Manila and other large and medium-sized cities like Cebu and Davao. Despite the fact that cities are getting developed and wealthy and more and more opportunities are coming, the gap between rich and poor families in cities is also getting wider. Poor children from urban poor are deprived of government care and services due to some reasons such as being an informal settler or being unregistered.
To address the great risks on children who are living in the urban poor communities, there should be a concrete and specific strategies, programs and policies designed for the urban poor. The national and local governments in cooperation with advocacy groups, civil societies, communities and non-profit organizations can work hand in hand to formulate solutions and to carry out any actions to materialize the said programs and policies. These should answer the problems in insufficient food, drinking water, education, sanitation, decent housing and other basic needs.
Following initiatives and programs can be done:
- Creating effective urban strategies and imposing good practices in health, education, child protection and all issues in local governance to improve the urban poor’s living conditions.
- Planning a new country programme that will focus on reaching the poorest and most disadvantaged children, considering the risks of children in armed conflict, disasters and urban slums.
- Empowering the urban poor through slum upgrading projects that are anchored on programs of strong organization of the community. These can be done by civil societies, private sector and NGOs that work in organizing the community, dialogues, as well as the monitoring and maintaining donor-funded projects.
- Private sectors are also working with the local government to develop low-cost housing that can be afforded by informal settlements.
- Engagements of all the stakeholders and collaborating with the local government when it comes to planning, implementation and monitoring programs for the urban poor.