© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-0375/ADAM DEAN
Children eat rice in their makeshift shack near the town of Kunyangon in Yangon Division. Increasing disparities push many families into difficult situtations in Myanmar.
Rapid economic growth has transformed our region, bringing with it some remarkable social achievements. Primary education is almost universal. More and more children are being immunized and leading healthier lives. But that still leaves the poorest decile – 100 million children – stunted, not immunized or missing out on quality education or other essential services. The region’s ‘miracle of growth’ is passing them by. In response, UNICEF is helping governments develop effective social and economic policies that will sustain growth and also help people who are poor, excluded and vulnerable.Our Social Policy support has three focus areas:
- Addressing inequalities. Children are not born with equal opportunities, and income inequalities amplify these differences. UNICEF helps governments create and implement policies to achieve universal coverage of essential services, such as health and education. Through this assistance, UNICEF helps all children come closer to having the best start to life.
- Finding the funds. Economic liberalization is increasingly associated with attempts to reduce public sector, and often social service, expenditures. Cost-sharing – the transfer of responsibility from the state to the consumer – is affecting children’s access to education and health services. UNICEF is assisting governments in developing social policies and child-friendly budgets, as well as leveraging resources from donors and international financial institutions, that improve outcomes for children.
- Supporting decentralization. Most governments recognize that decentralization provides better quality services to their citizens by enhancing local control. But initial attempts of several countries to decentralize did not build adequate local capacity to manage services, resulting in supply breakdowns, poor public response and eventual ‘recentralization’. UNICEF is helping governments, sector by sector, to create decentralization policies that will result in sustainable improvements in child welfare.
Related working papers on decentralization
REGIONAL AND THEMATIC PAPERS
Decentralization: Equity and Sectoral Policy implications for UNICEF in East-Asia and the Pacific
Local governments are increasingly involved in making sectoral policy decisions that affect outcomes for children. To support enhanced understanding and engagement, this paper first summarizes the different forms of decentralization, and then explores implications for the education, health and water sectors, elaborating relevant governance and economic principles and using country examples. Click to read.
Decentralization and Primary Education: A Quantitative and Qualitative Survey in East Asia and the Pacific Islands. Social Policy and Economic Analysis Unit
This indicative comparative analysis of the goals and effects of decentralization reforms on education in the East Asia and Pacific region highlights best practices and the lessons learned from country experiences, and identifies gaps in UNICEF responses to the challenges of decentralization. Click to read.
The Private Sector and Health Services Delivery in the East Asia and Pacific Region: Background Report to UNICEF on the Role and Experiences of the Private Sector in Provision of Child Health Services
The market is less centralized than commonly assumed. In geographic areas, and market niches, uncovered by the state, the private sector is often active. Rural pharmacies, FBOs, CSOs and NGOs are all involved in community level activities. The report provides an overview of the role of the private sector in health systems; introduces the types of programs, policies, and activities currently affect privately provided healthcare, reviews their relative importance; and recommends a typology of private sector options available to countries in the region. Its emphasis is on services for the poor, and options available to governments to well manage private provision. Click to read.
Decentralization and Taking Pilots to Scale in East Asia and the Pacific Region
This study looks at the role of UNICEF strategic approaches in the context of decentralization of governance in East Asia. It explores the challenges and opportunities decentralization poses for UNICEF. The degree to which UNICEF is well able to use the results emanating from pilot projects to effectively influence national policies and strategies and to ensure replication of successful pilots at a national level is assessed. While all UNICEF Country Offices have done extensive assessments and analyses of their specific pilot projects, this study extracts general recommendations that transcend the results for individual pilot projects. Click to read.
COUNTRY AND COUNTRY OFFICE STUDIES
Social Policy Study (on Decentralization) prepared as input to the Mid-Term Review 2008
Decentralization, which began in 2001 with the implementation of the first laws on regional autonomy and fiscal transfers, has changed the mechanism of governance across Indonesia. This shift has implications for UNICEF’s programme, partnerships, and staff competencies. The study was undertaken as part of the 2008 Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the UNICEF Indonesia Country Programme 2006-2010. Its goal was to better understand the institutional changes and identify the new challenges that central and sub-national governments face in the process of policy-making, planning, budgeting, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation at each level of government in Indonesia. It provides recommendations for UNICEF’s strategic approach, partnerships, and competencies to ensure that children’s rights are reflected in policy decisions, government work plans, and resource allocations. Click to read.
Improving Local Service Delivery for the Millennium Development Goals: Rural Water Supply and Sanitation in Mongolia
Mongolia provides three challenges to decentralisation of service delivery to achieve the MDGs. First, institutional design of local service delivery in a large, sparsely populated country with low technical and professional capacity needs to be tackled in a context outside the centralisation versus decentralisation debate. Second, the linkage between local service delivery and poverty alleviation is so central that governments cannot shy away from their responsibility of enhancing capacities and capabilities for sustaining livelihoods on lame grounds of fiscal prudence. Third, countries that are in transition towards democracy need to invest in developing institutions of local governments that are not based on urban and western norms of self-sustaining and self-financing, rather the focus should be on greater empowerment through a voice and choice in local governance and representation and participation in determining the quality, standards and level of the delivery of local services. The report criticizes donor focus on urban systems and notes that no department of government is currently responsible for rural water supply. Click to read.
Improving Local Service Delivery for the MDGs in Asia: The Philippines’ Case - A Joint Project of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and United Nations Children’s Fund (2009)
The report develops a Triangulation Framework for local service delivery as a contribution to the regional study on “Improving Local Service Delivery for the MDGs in Asia.” It assesses local service delivery systems and practices in the Philippines in light of sector performance for education, health, and water. Based on the sectoral analyses and comparative assessment, it investigates how local service delivery systems and practices can be improved and to formulate sectoral decentralization policy frameworks as inputs to the national strategies and plans for improving local service delivery. Click to read.
Decentralization and the Budget for Social Services at Tambon Administrative Level Thailand
The report provides an overview of the decentralization structure of the local governments in Thailand. It explains the planning processes at various administrative levels, particularly the linkages between national strategic development plan and community development plans and highlights social development issues. The budget expenditures plan of some TAOs in Nan province are be analyzed and the challenges to be faced to increase local level budgets are summarized. Click to read.