|© UNICEF video|
|The UNICEF Executive Board meets for the second day of its second regular session of 2009. From left: Deputy Executive Director Saad Houry, Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, 2009 Executive Board President Oumar Daou, Board Secretary Kirsi Madi, Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi and Evaluation Office Director Finbar O'Brien.|
NEW YORK, USA, 16 September 2009 – The UNICEF Executive Board continued its second regular session of 2009 yesterday with the adoption of 16 revised country and area programmes. Among them were the plans for UNICEF’s work in Afghanistan, Botswana, Burundi, Ecuador, the Gulf Area and Lebanon.
Ten of the adopted programmes were for countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CEE/CIS. Regional Director for CEE/CIS Steven Allen presented the mid-term reviews of seven ongoing country programmes by noting that the global economic downturn has caused GDP to contract by 5 to 6 per cent throughout the region.
Mr. Allen noted that the contraction has been particularly severe in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, affecting social-protection reforms and the quality of basic social services.
“Progress on [the Millennium Development Goals] in all seven countries is at risk,” he said, “especially in areas where large sections of the child population remain vulnerable.” He added, however, that cooperative action has brought good results in early childhood development programmes in many countries, including Georgia.
Georgia on track
The First Lady of Georgia, Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, participated in the mid-term of the UNICEF country programme in Georgia, as chair of her country’s National Reproductive Health Council. At the Executive Board meeting, she expressed confidence that Georgia was on track for “most of the MDG’s.”
Ms. Roelofs said the Government of Georgia was pleased with UNICEF’s involvement in ensuring child health and development there. In particular, she noted UNICEF’s role in the work of the United Nations Theme Group on HIV/AIDS, and in promoting policies to deinstitutionalize children.
“We will fully support you,” she said.
All of UNICEF’s Regional Directors attended the meeting, presenting summaries of mid-term country programme reviews conducted in their regions in 2008.
Three of the Regional Directors – Bernt Aasen from Latin America and the Caribbean, Elhadj As Sy from Eastern and Southern Africa, and Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano from West and Central Africa – were addressing the Executive Board in that capacity for the first time.
Mr. Aasen and Mr. As Sy also submitted new country programmes to the board. For example, Mr. As Sy presented the draft programme for Uganda, where 21 years of conflict came to an end in 2007, allowing for the gradual return of more than a million displaced people to their homes. The programme outlines $241 million in funding, with almost $75 million for health and nutrition interventions.
‘Triple threat’ in southern Africa
In his remarks to the Executive Board, Mr. As Sy pointed to the “triple threat” facing southern Africa. He noted that the combination of HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty and food insecurity has to be addressed if development gains are not to be lost.
Many of the recommended mid-term alterations to southern African country programmes focused on the expansion of social-protection plans to address HIV/AIDS, as well as child labour, child trafficking and child prostitution.
Both the proposed new country programmes and the mid-term review of current programmes, said Mr. As Sy, “contribute to MDG achievement, are in line with the UNICEF mid-term strategic plan and are aligned with national development priorities. They are all results-based, human rights-based and evidence-based.”
Latin America and the Caribbean
Mr. Aasen submitted new country programmes for both Argentina and Guatemala. He told the Executive Board he was encouraged by many positive developments in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the expansion of conditional cash transfer programmes into 15 countries. The poverty-reduction transfers benefit some 21 million families.
“It shows a willingness from the governments to increase social spending,” said Mr. Aasen.
The draft programme for Argentina is a model of a “new generation of country programme that UNICEF is preparing for middle-income countries,” he added. “We are trying to position ourself in the policy dialogue with the government and, hopefully, be a good convener of the whole Argentinean society.”
The Executive Board session concludes today. On the agenda – among other items – are an organizational follow-up to recommendations of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board and a discussion about planned UNICEF events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in November.
Approved country programmes
On 15 September 2009, the Executive Board approved revised country and area programme documents for:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Gulf Area sub-regional programme
the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
UNICEF’s Regional Directors presented summaries of mid-term reviews covering the following country programmes in their respective regions:
Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Albania, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine
East Asia and the Pacific: Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia and Viet Nam
Eastern and Southern Africa: Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia
West and Central Africa: Burkina Faso, Chad and Ghana
Americas and the Caribbean: Guyana and Peru
Middle East and North Africa: Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq
South Asia: Bangladesh