Emergencies and underdevelopment: A downward spiral
UNICEF is part of the effort to make emergency response more timely, efficient and effective. A ‘cluster leadership’ approach, designed to improve aid delivery in the field, was adopted by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in 2005 and first implemented in Pakistan after the October earthquake. Within this overall strategy, UNICEF has a coordinating role in nutrition, data communications, and water and environmental sanitation; is an important implementing partner in health; and will lead in education and, in some circumstances, child protection.
As part of an inter-agency effort, in 2005 UNICEF helped devise plans and secure initial funding in preparation for a potential pandemic of avian influenza (H5N1), which many fear may disproportionately infect and kill children.
All UNICEF country offices were required to prepare contingency plans for programmes and operations by late October 2005. The organization is poised to provide a strategic voice in the coordinated UN response to the threat, while fully utilizing its mandate for children, commitment to emergency response and the Millennium Development Goals, and proven strengths in communication, vaccination and assisting governments at multiple levels.