UNICEF past achievements
UNICEF began work in Azerbaijan in 1993, to assist with the hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people left the in the wake of Karabakh conflict. In addition, the country was struggling with the Soviet Union’s collapse, which caused major social and economic upheaval and dislocation.
UNICEF’s first programmes addressed national development priorities, as well as immediate humanitarian needs, and the national programme for 1995-1999 focused on immunisation, health, rehabilitation, nutrition, education and child protection.
With UNICEF support, the Azerbaijan government worked to improve the health care system, including programmes to improve vaccination among the child population. One of the most notable achievements was immunizing 95% of the child population with all vaccines, and Azerbaijan was officially listed as polio free in June 2002. In early 2006, three million children and young people were immunized against measles and rubella.
With support from UNICEF and its partners, government programmes routinely provide vitamin A supplements to new mothers and children under age six.
Much success was met in combating nutrient deficiencies, including the introduction of salt legislation, as well as providing equipment to salt factories, and promoting food fortification to eliminate iron deficiency and anaemia. The resulting progress toward universal salt iodization is close to eliminating iodine deficiency disorders.
As part of the education reform process, Early Child Care and Development (ECCD) was introduced into pre-schools as a pilot project. UNICEF supported curriculum improvement and the empowerment of parents, families, teachers and caregivers in health, nutrition, psycho-social care, early learning and child protection. In addition a network of active learning schools was established to introduce interactive learning methodologies and practices.
Another significant achievement has been the empowerment and participation of young people, including IDP/refugee youth in cultural, educational, health and political arenas. Other achievements include the collection and analysis of data to design communication and outreach activities for young people and to convince them to adopt healthy life styles.
Incorporating children’s rights into national planning and policy has been another important achievement. With UNICEF’s help, children and women issues became a priority and were addressed in state programmes to combat poverty and promote sustainable development.
UNICEF’s country strategy for 2005-2010 focused on national priorities and programmes such as de-institutionalization and alternative care, education reforms, health reforms, improvements in reproductive health with special focus on safe motherhood and new-born care; as well as the National HIV/AIDS strategy, and the National Youth Policy.
UNICEF is also playing a leading role in the gathering, analysis and dissemination of vital information. Together with other UN agencies, including the World Bank, UNICEF analyses the impact of poverty reduction efforts on children, and monitors trends in disparities by age, region and sex. UNICEF also cooperates with the Azerbaijan Parliament to jointly analyse budgetary allocations to vital programmes and services for children.
With UNICEF support, the government of Azerbaijan adopted a State Programme on Deinstitutionalization and Alternative Care, providing the framework for reform of the child protection system. Assistance continues, to support the new pilot districts for community-based child care systems that help ensure children’s rights to live in a family-like environment.
Juvenile justice is another focus for UNICEF. The Ministry of the Interior and UNICEF joined forces to train police juvenile inspectors according to international standards. Also, UNICEF and its local and international partners are working to create a system that will divert children from custodial pre-trial into alternatives.
Despite the progress made, crucial challenges remain ahead to reduce infant and child malnutrition and mortality rates further, to continue to improve the quality of schools and pre-schools, improve the awareness and knowledge of HIV/AIDS (reducing the risk of HIV infection); to strengthen the child protection system especially those living with disabilities, deprived of parental care, facing violence or being forced into early.