UNICEF project set to make city life more child-friendly
by Tuncay Kayaoğlu
ISTANBULMar 03, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Tuncay Kayaoğlu
Mar 03, 2016 12:00 am
UNICEF has released the results of a two-year Turkish pilot project to make the country's cities "child-friendly."
"With this program, more than 200 young volunteers have been trained. Through them, more than 10,000 children have been reached," said Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF representative in Turkey, at a news conference in Istanbul yesterday.
Ten Turkish municipalities, including Mamak in Ankara, Bitlis in eastern Turkey and Bornova in İzmir, joined the UNICEF program. The young volunteers conducted surveys with children to determine their needs to make their cities friendlier for children. The results of the survey will provide the local municipalities with the road maps they need to make the cities' environments better for children, according to organizers.
Ankara's Mamak Municipality in central Turkey will work to strengthen its Children's Assembly, paving the way for children to participate in local policy and provide their insight.
The municipality will also work to advocate for children's rights, according to the road map's design.
"Activities will continue," Duamelle said, adding that many more Turkish municipalities have expressed interest in joining the initiative. Sanem Bilgin, the general manager of UNICEF Turkey's National Committee, said that the needs and rights of children "have been ignored" amid rapid global urbanization.
"Our goal is to reach many more municipalities for children's rights," Bilgin said.
Along with the rapid urbanization in recent years in Turkey and growing populations, children are faced
with a lack of playgrounds, security and social services.
Almost 30 percent of Turkey's more than 77 million people - nearly 30 percent of the population - were between the ages of infancy and 17 years old in 2014, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Reportedly, 21 million children currently live in Turkey's cities. UNICEF defines a child-friendly city as a place or a local system of governance tha5t is committed to fulfilling the rights of children. The initiative was launched in 1996 to improve the standards of living for all people. Bilgin said that $500,000 has already been spent on the two-year program, with IKEA Turkey also backing the initiative.