By Rebecca Zerzan
NEW YORK, USA, 9 February 2012 – The global economic crisis continued to be felt at the UNICEF Executive Board’s annual pledging event, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
|VIDEO: UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake emphasizes the importance of funding for UNICEF's programmes during the organization's annual pledging event. Watch in RealPlayer|
“Inadequate core resources pose a serious challenge to UNICEF,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
He emphasized the need for predictable funding to reach children in the most remote areas and facing the most difficult circumstances – particularly as the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals draws near.
“Regular resources are at the heart of our ability to meet the MDGs and provide children with better health, clean water, good nutrition and education,” he said. “They help protect children against violence, exploitation and abuse. They are at the heart of our ability to respond to emergencies quickly and effectively.”
Member States announced their annual voluntary contributions to the organization and reaffirmed their support for UNICEF’s work.
“We are grateful to governments who have pledged support to UNICEF today, especially in the face of the global economic difficulties we are all facing,” said Mr. Lake at the conclusion of the event. “We, as always, pledge to do everything we can every day to continue to use the resources entrusted to us in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible – with a singular focus on results.”
Focus on research
The Executive Board also focused on the development and implementation of programmes grounded in research to achieve better results in the field.
As a key provider of technical assistance to partner organizations and governments, UNICEF’s data collection, monitoring and analyses play a crucial role in the development of policies and best practices around the world.
Gordon Alexander, Director of UNICEF’s Office of Research, spoke to the Board about improving the way UNICEF develops, manages and shares information.
UNICEF has set three priorities to this effect: building a broader evidence base on children’s issues; generating and applying knowledge at the country level; and strengthening the connections between programme areas. UNICEF is also exploring innovative uses of information and communication technologies (ICT), such as rapid SMS to share lab results, to facilitate the flow of information among partners and countries.
|VIDEO: UNICEF Director of Evaluation Colin Kirk discusses UNICEF’s Education in Emergencies operations at the first regular session of the Executive Board for 2012. Watch in RealPlayer|
A discussion on UNICEF’s Education in Emergencies programme demonstrated how the organization’s emphasis on results is boosting its effectiveness.
Associate Director of Education Susan Durston and Director of Evaluation Colin Kirk discussed recent evaluations of UNICEF’s support for education in emergency and post-conflict settings. The studies, conducted by independent consultants and managed by the UNICEF Evaluation Office, identified both progress and shortcomings.
“Overall achievements improved education access and quality for 6 million children annually, with indirect benefits to an additional 14 million children,” said Mr. Kirk. But “monitoring and reporting was not as strong as it should have been… and limited progress was made in supporting the development of evidence-based policies.”
The resulting recommendations produced not only improvements but innovations as well. Enhanced reporting has yielded promising new approaches and technologies that are being piloted around the world.
“In Sri Lanka, we were able to monitor learning among children affect by conflict,” said Ms. Durston. Similar programmes are now being implemented in other disaster-prone countries. “We now have education in emergencies preparedness plans in Bangladesh – very useful in their almost annual floods and disasters. And we are piloting teacher training and ICT innovations.”
These developments will help spur improvements across the organization.
“The experiences and lessons learned from this programme go way beyond this specific programme,” said UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt. “We are looking at lessons learned. We will go through them and apply them to future programmes as well.”
UNICEF Executive Board 2012