In India, as in other countries, the rise in the number of street and working children is associated with the phenomenon of rapid urban growth, especially of sprawling slums and shanty towns. The predicament of the urban child "in difficult circumstances" is inextricable from these conditions of urban poverty in which he and she is brought up. The first point of any enquiry into childhood in India's slums and squatter settlements, therefore, has to be the entire living context of poor urban children: physical, environmental, socio-economic, and familial.
The Urban Child project launched studies in the Philippines, Brazil, India and Kenya. Italy constituted a special challenge because it introduced to the project a North-South dimension. Owing to the rapid industrialization and economic growth of the period 1950-1980, Italian children have certainly fared better. However, severe forms of disaffection and problems among Italian youth have also emerged.
The ICDC research study into the situation of urban children in Kenya focussed on the country's three main cities: Nairobi, the capital, Kisumu on Lake Victoria, the main city of western Kenya, and Mombasa, one of the most important and ancient ports on the east African coast. Separate studies were undertaken and although the situation of children in difficult curcumstances has many similarities in the different environments, there are also contrasts.