New Delhi: Slum children in urban areas across the world, including India, happen to be the most deprived and their sufferings are often obscured by broad statistical averages, a latest UN study has said.
In India, like the rest of the world, cities were the "settings for some of the greatest disparities in children`s health, education and opportunities," says the report `The state of the World`s Children 2012: Children in an Urban
World` brought out by the United Nation`s Children`s Fund.
The report, citing Mumbai as an example, said India`s financial capital was one of the world`s richest cities but also home to the "highest number of slum dwellers".
There are nearly 97 million urban poor living in 50,000 slums in India. 70 per cent of this number are concentrated in just five states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, it said, adding Maharashtra has approximately 35 percent of India`s slums.
The UNICEF report said by 2026, 40 per cent of India`s population would live in towns and cities so the issues related to the urban poor were becoming more important.
"A child born in a slum in urban India is as likely to die before her or his first birthday, to become underweight or anaemic or to be married before her 18th birthday, as a child in rural India," Karin Hulshof, UNICEF`s India representative said, while releasing the report.
"Unfortunately for the urban poor child, the situation is most of the time not as visible and gets diluted by the much rosier picture of urban life and opportunities," she said.
The report quoted the National Family Health Survey data which was carried out in eight cities from 2005 to 2006.
It said that a quarter of urban children were found to be stunted indicating that they had been undernourished for some time.
Quoting the survey, it said among the poorest fourth of urban residents, 54 per cent of children were stunted and 47 per cent were underweight, compared with 33 per cent and 26 per cent among the rest of urban population.
Poor children in urban areas have to deal with a lot of influences which leave a negative impact on their mental health, the UNICEF report said.
Children and adolescents in urban areas are likely to have greater access to alcohol and illegal drugs than their counterparts in rural areas, it added.