Intra-urban inequities, particularly within mega-cities, indelibly mark a child’s life from birth. Three out of four children in Latin America live in urban areas and 30 percent live in a precarious situation. Ever more important, therefore, are analyses and measures of poverty and inequality that generate evidence about public policies to improve children’s quality of life and rights. Otherwise, limited policies will fail to go as far as they should.
In Colombia, one out of three children between the ages of birth to two suffers from chronic under-nutrition and close to 80 percent of those between the ages of three and five do not attend early childhood education centers. The children with these vulnerabilities represent two times the lowest income population groups. Also, children’s living conditions vary completely depending on the neighborhood in which they grow up and the social group to which they belong.
In Bogota, Colombia, one of the 10 most populous urban areas in Latin America with a population of 7,739,389 in 2013, important childhood inequity gaps exist. For instance, in looking at the distribution of poverty by neighborhood, 14 percent of children in communities with high indices of vulnerability, such as San Cristóbal, live in poverty. In contrast, only one percent of children live from less marginalized neighborhoods such as Teusaquillo live in poverty.
Measuring Inequities in Childhood
Bogotá Cómo Vamos, in partnership with Equity for Children and Fundación Corona, is currently working on a study analyzing and comparing early childhood quality of life in different neighborhoods of the city, with the goal of obtaining data to support better policies that guarantee childhood rights. In its first phase the project focused on zero to five year-olds. Future phases will expand the population studied to all children.
Equity for Children’s work highlights the need to incorporate a childhood perspective in measuring the quality of urban life. It does this by rolling out the Cómo Vamos project in various Colombian cities. It also examines how inequity is linked to neighborhoods where the youngest children grow up.
Recommendations and Next Steps
The study’s findings, presented at the local and national government level, include:
- Focus efforts on underserved neighborhoods where rights have been violated
- Consolidate existing indicators based on data disaggregated by sex, disability, ethnicity and experience of armed conflict in order to identify inequities linked to these characteristics
- Develop new indicators that are clear, relevant, measurable, adequate, periodic and disaggregated, which are necessary for the development of a national public policy for early childhood and reflect the strategy of “Zero to Always”. These must be based on proposed program goals such as care and child rearing guidelines, identity and participation.
The next project phase will scale up this exercise to six other Colombian cities that are part of Ciudades Cómo Vamos’s national network. This larger study will help identify the benefits and issues of local early childhood indicators and allow for better measurements, ultimately strengthening the public sector’s decision-making process.
Using indicators that are comparable in time and that share a network of civil society organizations allows those cities participating with the Cómo Vamos project to accelerate their public policy research. The initiative highlights the pitfalls of inequality and how it transforms urban areas into an exclusionary force for thousands of boys and girls in Colombia and Latin America.
Download the complete report here.
 Identifying inequalities to foster childhood equity, http://www.equidadparalainfancia.org/identificando-desigualdades-para-impulsar-la-equidad-en-la-infancia/.
 Inequity reigns in early childhood in Bogota, http://www.publimetro.co/lo-ultimo/la-inequidad-reina-entre-la-primera-infancia-en-bogota/lmknja!RyIGTJlgKGb2/ .