NEW YORK, USA, 12 September 2011 - The crisis in the Horn of Africa dominated the opening session of the UNICEF Executive Board, with Executive Director Anthony Lake warning that conditions can only get worse for the millions of families suffering from famine, rising food prices and drought.
|VIDEO: 12 September 2011 - UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake discusses the challenges of providing aid to the Horn of Africa. Watch in RealPlayer|
“The crisis has not peaked – and with no major harvests expected for the rest of the year, the harshest times lie ahead,” he said during his opening remarks.
|© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1373/Susan Markisz|
|UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake (second-from-left) speaks at the second regular session of the 2011 UNICEF Executive Board. Beside him are (left-right) UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Martin Mogwanja; UNICEF President of the 2011 UNICEF Executive Board (and Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the UN) Ambassador Sanja Štiglic; Secretary of the UNICEF Executive Board Nicolas Pron; and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta.|
UNICEF responds to challenge
UNICEF Regional Director Elhadj As Sy outlined UNICEF’s response to the crisis in the Horn. UNICEF is providing water, healthcare, education, to families, as well as emergency feeding programmes for the millions of children at risk of dying from starvation.
Mr. As Sy said UNICEF’s early response to this extraordinary challenge was exceptional and he praised all UNICEF’s partners and national committees for their work.
He added that early response had made a huge difference, especially in Somalia, where, unlike many other organizations, UNICEF already had staff at work in the country.
“UNICEF was not one of the first agencies to go in, because UNICEF never left,” explained Mr. As Sy.
|VIDEO: 12 September 2011 - UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elhadj As Sy says an efficient early response has been the key to UNICEF's success in providing aid to the Horn of Africa. Watch in RealPlayer|
The nature of UNICEF’s work is also become more challenging by financial restraints brought on by the global economic crisis. UNICEF has seen its core resources decline for the last two years.
Despite this, Mr. Lake told the Executive Board that UNICEF has undertaken a comprehensive budget review to cutting costs without affecting country programmes.
“I am happy to say that we have succeeded in this endeavor, significantly reducing our institutional and management budgets,” he said.
“We will be recommending a reduction of 4.2 per cent in our management activities budget, and of 5.3 per cent in the institutional budget, for the coming biennium, compared to the budget for 2010 – 2011,” Mr. Lake explained. “The cuts will come primarily from Headquarters offices.”
|VIDEO: UNICEF speaks on the Horn of Africa Crisis. Watch in RealPlayer|
While pursuing its equity agenda, UNICEF will also be more focussed on managing for results and ensuring that its processes are accountable and transparent—Mr. Lake has proposed that next year UNICEF disclose all internal audit reports.
“Everything that we do at UNICEF is aimed at what matters most: achieving results in children’s lives,” said the Executive Director. “Because every dollar or euro wasted is money that could help buy a vaccine or a school book that could save or help educate a child.”