Urban poverty -- and its impact on children -- is often overlooked and misunderstood. More than half of the world's population now lives in cities. Each year the number of urban residents increases by nearly 60 million.1 By 2050, it is projected that two thirds of the global population will be living in urban areas.2 It is estimated that 94 percent of urban growth will take place in less developed countries.3
Africa, though it is the least urbanized continent today, is predicted to have one billion urban dwellers by 2040, with a substantial youth majority. Over the next 40 years, 75 percent of urban population growth in Africa will take place in Africa's secondary cities.4 Currently, over half of the African urban population lives in slum conditions. These figures alone demonstrate the growing importance of prioritizing the urban context in development work.
Coupled with this growing urban population, the development community's reliance on aggregate data, which generally compares development indicators for urban and rural areas within a country, means that children and adults living in urban areas appear to be better off than those living in rural areas.
Citywide statistics and the 'urban advantage' allow the wealth of some urban individuals to obscure the hardships faced by those living in urban poverty and the vast inequalities present within urban communities. The absence of detailed data means that the depths of urban poverty are often missed and children living in urban poverty are at risk of not being reached by development efforts.