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NGO Contribution Toward Making Cities Child-friendly
Sporadic urban growth in many cities in Asia and the Pacific poses significant risks to the well-being of children.
commissioned by UNICEF has noted that the health and often the lives of more than half of the worldâ€™s children are constantly
threatened by environmental hazards, in their home and surroundings and in the places where they play and socialize. The research
also indicates that 40 000 child deaths occur each year from malnutrition and disease, and that 150 million children a year survive
with ill health, with retarded physical and mental development. More and more young people are being admitted to hospital with
asthma due to car fumes, while other pollutants are linked with a whole range of other health problems in the young. Shanty town
dwellings with inadequate basic facilities exposes children to diseases and dangers, while traffic claims many young lives on a daily
basis. Because of such problems, one of the greatest challenge for urban administrations in the new millennium is in the area of child
development and protection.
In Malaysia a number of concerned NGOs have got together to try and address this challenge. In September 1996, The
Malaysian Council for Child Welfare (MCCW) and the National Council for Womenâ€™s Organizations (NCWO) organized a National
Conference on the Right of the Child in Kuala Lumpur. The Conference was supported by the United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund
(UNICEF), Malaysia and received technical cooperation from Asia-Pacific 2000, which is a Project of the United Nations Development
At this conference, serious concerns were raised about the quality of life of the urban child, who is often caught between his or
her own needs and aspirations and that of his parents. Subsequent to this meeting, on 5th July 1997, the MCCW, NCWO and the
Management Institute for Social Change (MINSOC), with technical support from Asia-Pacific 2000 and UNICEF, organized a followup
national workshop on â€˜The Urban Vision 2020 Initiative: Making Urban Areas Child-Friendlyâ€™
from government departments, tertiary institutions, non-governmental organizations as well as interested individuals, the workshop
concluded with concrete proposals on improving the socio-economic environment of children, addressing issues that arise within the
home, school or community pace and the safety and health of urban children.
Out of these deliberations, there emerged the Malaysian Charter on Making Urban Areas Child-Friendly and its associated Ten
Strategic Actions aimed specifically at urban local authorities. The Initiative then commissioned the development of a child-friendly
survey instrument â€“ â€˜The Childâ€™s Report Cardâ€™ as a tool for children to assess the friendliness of their own neighbourhood environments.
The Malaysian Child-Friendly Cities Initiative is a complement of the International Child-Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI)
which was launched during the International Workshop on Childrenâ€™s Rights. The objective of the CFCI is to help translate the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), into concrete actions that can be implemented at the local level, by just about everyone.
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The Shruth & Smith Foundation is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization committed to work towards resolving enduring problems in social, educational and rural sectors that requires sustained effort and determination.