The Government of Georgia and UNICEF agree on further directions of their country programme
Without having concrete mechanisms of social protection in place it would be difficult to provide better care for children
“A lot of important projects have been implemented since UNICEF launched its programmes in Georgia. Mid-term review of the country programme is a possibility to review the progress achieved and to define concrete strategies on how to provide better services and protection for the women and children in Georgia. The major outcome of the process is that UNICEF in partnership with the Government will strengthen its efforts at the policy development level in spheres of health, education, protection and participation. Without having concrete mechanisms of social protection in place it would be difficult to provide better care for children” says Shahnaz Kianian-Firouzgar, UNICEF Acting Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe, CIS and Baltics.
The state budget expenditure on health and education in 2002 were 3.5 and 3.8 per cents. Today, at least 50% of children in Georgia live below the poverty line. Around 2500 children have turned to street and earn their livelihood either by begging or by prostitution. Estimated 4667 children live in institutions, where conditions are in no way fit either for their mental or physical development. Economic hardships cause many families to send their children to orphanages. Studies show that such "social orphans" account for 95% of institutionalized children in Georgia. As many as 9 197 are disabled children, 42000 are IDP children lacking basic care and protection, 131 juveniles at conflict with law suffering from difficult conditions in various detention centers. Infant mortality rates stands at 23.8 per 1000 lives births in Georgia, the nutritional status of children appears favourable despite high poverty rates and many families with inadequate food. Iodine deficiency causing mental retardation still affects 38 per cent of Georgian children. Quality of education is suffering from the country’s economic crisis while gross enrolment rate in secondary education is relatively high at 89 per cent – These are major findings of the situation analysis of women and children in Georgia, conducted in 2003 as part of the Mid-Term Review Process. These will also be the major challenges UNICEF and the Government of Georgia will tackle in their future programming.
UNICEF in partnership with the Government of Georgia will try to Improve access to quality healthcare and nutrition, particularly among the poor and during the neonatal period, achieve universal immunization and universal salt iodization; improve access to quality education, particularly at the preschool level; prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; protect children with special needs, including those living in institutions, those living on the streets, those who are in conflict with the law and those who are sexually exploited; provide opportunities for children and youth to participate in decision-making process that affects their lives, protect the rights of children in conflict-affected areas.
“To achieve these objectives, we will need to strengthen our efforts in raising public awareness of the needs of children and women, to advocate for increasing budget expenditures in health and education spheres, to improve the collection and analysis of data on the situation of children and to enhance coordination among the different players working for children. Concerted efforts and dedication to protecting the rights of children are needed at all levels – from households to the national government and the international community” – says Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UNICEF Representative in Georgia.
In 2003 the Government of Georgia UNICEF agreed upon to carry out the Mid-Term Review of the country programme, which covers 2001-2005 and consists of the following programmes: Maternal and Child Health, Child Development, Children in Need of Special Protection, Young Peoples’ Health and Development and Social Policy Development.
As a result of the Mid-Term Review the concrete recommendations for changes and action plan for the remaining period of the country programme (2004-2005) were developed and proposed future strategies for the new country programme (2006-2010) worked out.
The Mid-Term review process included evaluation of particular project components by working group of experts and a series of review meetings with the implementers and policy makers. Participation of children and young people was one of the major characteristics of the process. Children and young people evaluated concrete projects by themselves and provided their independent view of the implementation of these projects. The whole process was coordinated by the Special State Commission.
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