As more and more mothers seek better opportunities for their children in urban areas, Save the Children's new report, State of the World's Mothers 2015: The Urban Disadvantage looks at the real story behind the bright lights of the big city. Focusing on the health and survival of urban children, the findings, released today, uncover a hidden truth.
"Our new report reveals a devastating child survival divide between the haves and have-nots, telling a tale of two cities among urban communities around the world, including the United States," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "For babies born in the big city, it's survival of the richest."
For the first time in history, more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas. But many cities are unable to keep up with the breakneck pace of urban growth, leaving one-third of all urban residents—including hundreds of millions of mothers and children—to live in slums, where a lack of clean water, basic sanitation and health services can equal death.
Yet, average national and urban child survival statistics tell a deceptively positive story. They show that in developing nations children living in big cities are surviving at higher rates than those living in smaller towns or rural areas. But these numbers mask the fact that a child's survival in the city too often is dependent on the family's wealth.
Save the Children's report reveals a harrowing reality for urban moms and their children living in poverty throughout the developing world:
The gap between the health of the rich and poor is just as prevalent in big cities in some of the wealthiest nations:
However, the report has also uncovered some good news. It has identified a number of cities that are making significant gains for the poorest children, including Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Cairo (Egypt); Guatemala City (Guatemala); Kampala (Uganda); Manila (Philippines); and Phnom Penh (Cambodia). These cities are working to increase access to basic maternal, newborn, and child services; raise health awareness; and make care more affordable and accessible to the poorest urban families.
"The survival of millions of children in cities should not be a privilege for the rich, but guaranteed for all," said Miles. "We call on our leaders not to forget these mothers and children struggling to survive in the shadows of our bustling metropolises. We must invest in making quality health care more accessible and affordable to all moms and babies."
The agencies today released a scathing critique of the UN Security Council powers detailing how they have failed to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Syria amid intensifying conflict four years after the start of the crisis.
Despite three Security Council resolutions adopted in 2014 that demanded action to secure protection and assistance for civilians, humanitarian access to large parts of Syria has diminished and more people are being killed, displaced and are in need of help than ever before, according to the report "Failing Syria."
In the hard-hitting report agencies present a score card that compares the demands made in the Security Council resolutions last year, with the reality on the ground. The grim statistics reveal how the resolutions have been ignored or undermined by the parties to the conflict, members of the Security Council and other UN member states, leading to the worst year of the crisis for civilians:
"The bitter reality is that the Security Council has failed to implement its resolutions. Last year was the darkest year yet in this horrific war. Parties to the conflict have acted with impunity and ignored the Security Council's demands, civilians are not protected and their access to relief has not improved," said Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland.
Fewer people were reached via inter-agency convoys from Damascus in 2014 compared to 2013 (1.1 million compared to 2.9 million), and less than half of the requests were accepted by the government of Syria. Some assistance has been entering across the borders from neighboring countries, but out of Syria's 34 border crossings, only five are currently open for humanitarian convoys, nine are restricted and the remainder are closed.
"Across Syria, children are missing out on their education because we cannot reach them, many schools have been destroyed and parents are afraid to send their children for fear their schools will be attacked," said Save the Children's Regional Director Roger Hearn. "While heroic humanitarian workers risk their lives to give essential aid and services, millions of Syrians remain out of reach, not only because of fighting and a worsening situation but also because of lack of funding and bureaucratic hurdles."
The humanitarian organizations are calling on UN member states, including the permanent members of the Security Council, to go beyond words and ensure the resolutions are fully implemented.
"The Security Council's words now ring hollow. The last year has seen little concrete action from parties to the conflict and governments with influence to tackle the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Syria. What good is a resolution to a mother whose house has been bombed and children are hungry if it is ignored and undermined? It is time for powerful governments to stop fuelling the conflict, significantly scale up humanitarian assistance to meet people's immediate needs and push the warring parties towards a political solution. Russia, the US and other states have the political and diplomatic influence to make the changes set out in the resolution real; there is no more time to lose", said Andy Baker, who heads Oxfam's response to the Syria crisis.
Thank you for your support of Save the Children. Many of you first became supporters with an outpouring of generosity in response to the catastrophic Indian Ocean (Boxing Day) Tsunami on 12/26/2004.
On 26th of December 2004, an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggered a massive Tsunami which devastated nearby coastal areas of South-east and South Asia and affected countries as far away as East Africa. In total, an estimated 230,000 people were killed and 1.8 million people were displaced and in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India there was widespread destruction of houses and livelihoods.
Save the Children’s five-year humanitarian response represents the largest in the agency’s history. Our staff members were on the ground in many coastal areas when the disaster struck, and their work has benefited an estimated 1 million people in over 1,000 towns and villages.
Save the Children responded immediately in the countries hardest hit, including Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as in Somalia.
We provided emergency food, water and medical supplies; set up community kitchens in temporary shelters; created safe play areas and temporary classrooms for children; distributed educational materials; provided cash-for-work opportunities and offered other immediate relief activities. It also reunited more than 1,300 children with their families.
Read the full ten-year report
How You Can Help
Please support Save the Children’s global mission. Your tax-deductible gift gives children in the U.S. and around the world what every child deserves – a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. When disaster strikes, we put children's needs first. We advocate for and achieve large-scale change for children. We save children's lives.
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Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, 74 percent of parents with children in school or child care believe the federal government is not very prepared to protect their children from disaster. Yet the average parent spent only one hour on family emergency planning over the past year—and many spent no time at all, Save the Children reported today in its 2014 Disaster Report Card, What Are You Waiting For?
In contrast, the average parent spent five hours organizing back-to-school supplies this summer, according to a Harris Poll online survey commissioned by Save the Children for the report, released as National Preparedness Month began. The nationally representative poll surveyed 1,012 parents of children under 18 who are enrolled in child care or school.
Nearly half (49 percent) of such parents don't feel very prepared to protect their kids from disaster. A new infographic pulls out other key results.
"This report is a wake-up call," said Kathy Spangler, Save the Children's vice president of U.S. programs. "American parents say they're concerned about risks their children face from school shootings and natural disaster. Yet, our poll also shows most parents know little about emergency plans at their child's school or child care, and that they are failing to take basic actions to protect kids at home."
In the past year alone, the nation has experienced at least 20 school shootings and 50 major natural disasters, Save the Children's new report says. As the nation's leading child-focused emergency response agency, Save the Children has served more than 800,000 children affected by disaster in the United States since Hurricane Katrina struck.
"The results are disturbing, because we know children are always the most vulnerable when disaster strikes," she added. "Their safety, emotional well-being and development are at risk."
Disaster can strike anywhere—a point reinforced by the poll. More than half of American families with children in child care or school (54 percent) have already been affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, school shootings, wildfires or other types of disaster, the poll shows.
Two thirds of U.S. parents with children in child care or school are at least somewhat concerned about the risk their children face from natural disaster (66 percent) and school shootings (70 percent). More than a third of such parents (35 percent) are very or extremely concerned about school shooting risks, and 35 percent believe those risks are rising.
Back to School Concerns
The poll findings come on top of Save the Children's annual research that shows 21 states and the District of Columbia still lack basic emergency plan requirements for schools and child care centers. (See pages10-11 of the full report for detailed results and methodology.)
As the summer season ends and 69 million children are again separated from their parents daily, the new poll exposes alarming gaps in parent-school communication:
Save the Children's new video, "Where Are You?" illustrates the importance of reunification planning.
Reunification became a national concern after Hurricane Katrina separated thousands of children from their families. It took seven months to reunite the last child with her parents.
Yet today, nearly one in five parents of children in school or child care (18 percent) hasn't even provided caregivers with their emergency contact information. Nearly half of parents (46 percent) haven't given schools or child care providers an out-of-town emergency contact, essential should disaster disrupt local communications.
Gaps at Home
While three in five parents of children in school or child care (60 percent) reported having some sort of family emergency plan, they often fall short on precautions recommended by Save the Children. For instance, of those parents with plans:
Among the two-fifths of parents with children in school or child care who have no plan at all:
Many of these parents haven't set aside key disaster supplies, such as the recommended five-day supply of food and water. Even among parents who have a plan, more than a third (35 percent) don't have a two days' supply. Most (55 percent) also haven't set aside a comfort item for children.
Save the Children offers disaster planning checklists through its Get Ready Get Safe initiative, and recommends creating a "go kit" for each family member. The kit should include essential toiletries, medical and contact information—and a favorite activity and comfort item for children.
"This year we've cared for children uprooted by fire, floods and tornadoes," Spangler said. "Even small things can go far in helping a child in turmoil reestablish a sense of normalcy. With the right support, we know children can bounce back. We urge all parents to take steps now that could safeguard their child's wellbeing later."
Save the Children is calling on all Americans to pledge to better protect children from disaster.
Leading organizations to sign onto the pledge to protect children, or "Promise to Prepare," include the American Academy of Pediatrics, AmeriCares, America's Promise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Child Care Aware of America, Children's Health Fund, Children's Hospital Association, Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Community Playthings, Easter Seals, Extension Disaster Education Network, FEMA, First Focus, Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation, GP RED, GreenPlay LLC, Habitat for Humanity, HOPE Worldwide, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Fire Protection Agency, National Recreation and Parks Association, New Hampshire Recreation and Parks Association, Points of Light, Primrose Schools, Society for Public Health Education, Trust for America's Health and Youth Service America, Zero to Three.
Please visit www.SavetheChildren.org/US-Disaster to learn more. Find the report infographic, video, and links to the interactive U.S. map, full 2014 Disaster Report Card, and Get Ready Get Safe preparedness resources.
Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Harris Poll MethodologyThe Parents Emergency Preparedness Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Save the Children USA between July 21-24, 2014 among 1,012 parents of children under the age of 18, who are enrolled in daycare or school (grades K-12). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please see our infographic at www.SavetheChildren.org/US-Disaster.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children,” said Nelson Mandela, one of our world’s great leaders and visionaries, whom we so sadly lost in 2013. Mandela knew that by investing in children, we are investing in our collective future.
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why Save the Children is dedicated to ensuring that every child has the best chance for success – a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood.
In 2013, thanks to those who invested along with us, we achieved lasting, largescale results for children here in the United States and around the world. For example, after Oklahoma’s devastating tornadoes, children and families got the crisis care they needed. W e enabled dozens of damaged childcare centers to provide quality services again after Hurricane Sandy. Children’s voices were heard on Capitol Hill, and early education finally became a national priority. In the Philippines, we provided typhoon victims with vital supplies and support, and we protected and cared for the children of Syria. Children around the world learned to read and succeed in school. And millions more babies survived the most dangerous day – their birth day.
Results like these require the effective management of significant resources, as reported here for 2013, and we are grateful to the many donors and partners who so generously supported our work. As the largest member of Save the Children’s global movement, Save the Children U SA’s financial standing remains very strong, with historic levels of revenue and spending on children’s programming. So we entered 2014 well-positioned to continue investing in childhood.
Please take this opportunity to review the 2013 results for children your investment made possible – and consider continuing your support, both by raising your voice and by making a financial contribution to Save the Children.
Thank you on behalf of the world’s children – and the future we share.
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