Child Friendly Cities: Planning Approach, Ideas, Aspects to Consider

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PUP 598: Paper on Child Friendly Cities - Part 2: Planning Approach, Ideas, Aspects to Consider etc

A child-friendly city aspires to achieve children’s rights to essential services where the children and young people can:

  • Influence decisions about their community or city.
  • Express their opinions on the community or city they want.
  • Participate in family, cultural and social life.
  • Be protected and safe from exploitation, abuse and violence.
  • Meet friends and have places to play and for recreations.
  • Have green spaces.
  • Live in an unpolluted and clean environment.
  • Experience social equity as a citizen, with access to every service irrespective of their ethnic origin, income religion, gender, colour or ability.

Several initiatives were taken to make the city children-friendly. In 1996, the International Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) was created to act towards the resolution passed during the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). An international secretariat for Child Friendly Cities was created in 2000 at UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, Italy.

Child- & Youth-Friendly Land Use & Transport Planning Guideline: Becoming a Child Friendly City: The Child Friendly Cities Initiative advises following four steps:

  • Registration/Nomination: The nomination to make a Child Friendly City can be made by a community group.
  • Implementation: The formal registration form will be needed for a city to commit to be child friendly.
  • Accreditation: Accreditation is designed to formally recognize a city’s commitment to its children, aiming to meet a certain standard. Upon being recognized as an Accredited Child Friendly City, the city gets the right to use the Accredited Child Friendly Cities logo.
  • Monitoring: Upon being accredited, a city needs to show evidence of being committed to children. A monitoring system will be conducted to achieve this where each city will present a report every two to three years.

A human rights treaty called United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) sets out civil, social, cultural and political rights of every child. Every Member State will be bound to follow the treaty and report to the United Nations Committee on the state of children in the State once in every five years. In addition to these policy perspectives, there are also aspects of planning that affect the experience of growing up in cities and access of the younger generation to opportunities for healthy development. Governments at all levels, including local authorities, should continue to identify the best practices, and should try to implement them for the rights and wellbeing of children. The Millennium Development Goals, approved by world leaders in 2002, specify various targets related specifically to children, including a reduction in child mortality and achievement of universal primary education, to be attained by 2015.

The creation of CFCs must be placed in the context of a policy and planning broader framework that is captured by a provisional set of criteria, proposed to evaluate how well cities meet children’s needs and to inform CFC policies and programs. According to these criteria, a CFC includes:

• Physical environments, including land use mix, transportation network, housing, and community facilities, that respond to the particular needs and concerns of children like, safe crossing zones on the way to school; safe play spaces; toilets that are child-friendly. Aspects of hospitals, schools, transport systems, traffic management, parks, common space, water supply, waste removal, and the like, that help to make cities more child friendly.

• Information, communication and social mobilization to promote the concept of CFCs and raise awareness of children’s requirements with regard to the physical environment.

• Methods to involve children in assessing and improving their own neighbourhoods and give them a voice in local decision-making processes.

• Plans of action with and without the participation of children that aim at improving children’s physical environments

• Training packages/ methodologies for different target groups (decision makers, planners, schoolteachers, parents, children, etc) focused on making improvements of children’s physical environments

• Laws, rules, regulations and planning norms that take children’s needs and views into account.

• Municipal-level institutions focused on children’s rights (a special child unit or person within a municipality such as a children’s ombudsman)

• Monitoring systems to assess the quality of the environment for children

• Social and economic environment, including the local network of individuals, institutions and community organizations, and opportunities for employment

• Services system, including retail and commercial services, homecare providers, community and public agencies, and medical service providers

• System of governance and civic engagement, including participation in political processes, empowerment, and opportunities for community involvement.

• Safe and accessible environments: Local authorities need to create safe pedestrian-friendly streets, parks and other public spaces, crosswalks, traffic-calming designs, sidewalks.

Different ideas on moving towards a CFC:

  • Create family friendly communities to raise our children—link families to Child Friendly Cities
  • Campaign to mayoral candidates to make public the importance of building and supporting communities
  • Make time to listen to the voices of children and young people and act on them.
  • Have multiple channels for children and young people to flood councils with issues of importance.
  • Create change in our culture and mind-set through a political movement for children
  • Support to empower and enfranchise children and young people to participate
  • Stand candidates who believe in/will push the importance of CF communities and children’s rights in local and central elections
  • Build a movement with and for children—to a critical mass—represented at Council
  • Meet face to face with Mayoral candidates
  • Create movement through marches, media and having a public face

The building process can develop from or pull together other child-friendly initiatives: child-friendly hospitals and schools; environmental projects to guarantee children safe water and hygiene. The process of establishing child-friendly cities involves the following nine elements that promote child rights:

  • Children’s participation
  • A Legal framework which is children friendly
  • A Children’s Rights Strategy
  • A Children’s Rights Unit
  • Child impact assessment and evaluation
  • A budget on children
  • A report which looks into state of the City’s Children
  • Making children’s rights known
  • Advocacy for children

The European networks findfive general guidelinesand encourages national and local networks to implement them into specific local policies focusing for Child-friendly cities:

  • Holisticapproach: An approach for the city in its entirety in all its aspects.
  • Integral approach: All areas and services in life like urban planning, education, environment, health, mobility, care services, leisure, sports should be child friendly
  • Intergenerational approach: Children should be recognized as citizens and a part of the entire city instead of being socially isolated.
  • Importance of participation of children and youth: Children’s contribution should be encouraged, heard and included.
  • Dynamic trade and a continuous challenge: Child friendliness is a very dynamic trade and a continuous challenge coming up with new insights of it.

There is still much that can be done by non-governmental organisations, including local community organisations. Parameters that should be taken into account at a local level are:

  • Child Heath: Immunization status, Incidence of blindness, Diarrhoea incidence rate, Deaths due to respiratory diseases, Incidence of measles, pregnant mothers receiving antenatal care
  • Mother Heath: Antenatal coverage rate; TT immunisation rate; Maternal Mortality Rate; Age-specific Mortality (15 to 44 years); Age at marriage; Prevalence of PEM in girls
  • AIDS: Percentage of children and women detected HIV positive and percent with full-blown AIDS; Percentage of hospitals with blood safety procedures in use; Contraceptive prevalence rate
  • Nutrition: Weight for age status of children; Percentage of children receiving supplementary feeding etc
  • Water Supply: Percentage of population with access to safe water; Percentage of slum population receiving a minimum supply of 70-100 lpcd of safe water
  • Sanitation: Number existing household service latrines converted into sanitary latrines; Coverage of sanitary latrines in institutional set-ups such as primary/secondary schools etc
  • Education: Number and percentage of five-plus age children enrolled in primary schools; disadvantaged children enrolled in primary schools; Primary schools equipped with teaching/learning materials; schools equipped with sports or arts facilities; Number and percentage of schools with, drinking water or sanitation facilities
  • Children in Need of Special Protection: Number of street and destitute children receiving basic services and education
  • Child Labour: Number of child workers being removed from hazardous occupations, prostitution and begging; receiving education and basic services
  • Disabled Children: Number of disabled children receiving education and rehabilitation services through institutional or non-institutional care

Despite its 13-year history, the Child Friendly Cities Initiative is still nascent, and many of the initiatives that are under way have yet to be comprehensively monitored and evaluated. Yet it remains a strong step towards fuller and more meaningful child participation in community decisions that affect them. Building on the progress achieved by the initiative will be critical to fulfilling child rights in a world that is becoming ever more urbanized.