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Country Programme in India: 2003-2007


Overview of Progress of the Government of India – UNICEF Country Programme 2003-2007

United Nations in India
The Government of India (GOI)–UNICEF Country Programme is guided by the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which outlines the broader priorities of the United Nations (UN) in India. The ongoing UN reform process has resulted in a coordinated commitment among all partners to the realization of India’s National Development Targets – which are consistent with, and in certain cases more ambitious than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – and also in greater collaboration between various UN agencies. Examples of effective collaboration are WHO and UNICEF working together to eradicate polio; various UN agencies working together to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the coordination of the HIV/AIDs Theme Group; and UNICEF, WFP, Swaminathan Foundation and other partners identifying areas of collaboration to end child hunger. The ambitious knowledge management initiative of the UN in India, which was launched at the beginning of the year under the banner “Solution Exchange”, and is spearheaded by the United Nations Country Team, brings together practitioners, policy-makers, academics and others to share experiences and evidence to scale-up successful initiatives and accelerate progress towards the MDGs. 

Members of the United Nations Disaster Management Team have worked closely together in disaster preparedness, as well as in responding to the tsunami and other emergencies in recent years.

Overview of the Country Programme
The Country Programme builds on and accelerates the positive developments in the socio-political environment in India, notably the increased commitment to the social sector, resulting in measurable, positive change for children. Priority is given to children belonging to socially disadvantaged and marginalized communities.

Goal and Objectives of the Country Programme
The overall goal of the GOI-UNICEF Country Programme 2003 – 2007 is the progressive fulfillment of the rights of all children and women, and the promotion of an enabling environment to ensure equity and to strengthen accountabilities towards children.

In pursuit of these goals, the country programme contributes towards:

  1. reducing infant and maternal mortality ratios through appropriate interventions in health, nutrition, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and special care for girls and women;
  2. reducing child malnutrition and incidence of low birth weight, focusing on proper early childhood development and improvements in caring practices;
  3. ensuring quality elementary education for all children; and
  4. enhancing child protection, including the progressive elimination of child labour; prevention of sexual abuse and trafficking; and protecting children and adolescents from HIV/AIDS.

In supporting GOI’s initiatives to promote child rights, the Country Programme’s objectives are:

  1. to empower families and communities with appropriate knowledge and skills to improve the care and protection of children;
  2. to expand partnerships as a way to leverage resources for children and to scale up interventions; and
  3. to strengthen the evaluation and knowledge base of best practices on children in order to inform policy, support programme formulation and enhance monitoring capacity.

To promote programmatic collaboration and to better address the changing development needs of children, the eight UNICEF programmes are clustered around three key “life periods” of the child: under three years; school-age; and adolescents:

Children under three years of age:

  • Reproductive and Child Health (RCH)
  • Child Development and Nutrition (CDN)
  • Child Environment (CE)

Children who are of school-going age:

  •  Elementary Education 


  • Prevention of HIV/AIDS
  • Child Protection (CP)

The Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation programme (PME) and the Communication programme (Advocacy and Partnerships) contribute to the establishment of an enabling environment for children more generally.

Country Programme key achievements

  •  “Last mile” for polio
  • Progress with salt iodization in certain states, and with re-enactment of ban on sale of non-iodized salt, potential for nationwide results
  • Vitamin A supplementation increased with positive implications for well-being of children
  • While sanitation coverage remains low nationwide, sanitary marts have transformed the state of West Bengal, providing a model for scale-up
  • Water and sanitation facilities in schools have dramatically increased, with positive implications for girls’ attendance and for changing related behaviours in the community
    • Effective models developed for reducing mortality in the first month of life, reducing malnutrition, and improving performance of schools.  Challenge now to “go to scale” while maintaining quality and sustainability.

Results of the Country Programme
To support faster progress towards meeting India’s National Development Targets, and to help close the gap between GOI’s increase in social sector spending and corresponding outcomes, the Country Programme will continue to focus on strengthening relevant planning, monitoring and management capacities and systems.

Key policy developments include:

  • Re-enactment of the ban on non-iodized salt;
  • Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS prevention education for adolescents in school;
  • Revised infant feeding guidelines: protecting, promoting and supporting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life;
  • Finalization of National Plan of Action for Children; and
  • Adoption of Integrated Management of Neonatal and Child Illnesses within the National Rural Heath Mission.

The Country Programme will accelerate its integrated, participatory approach in selected districts in order to illustrate positive impact on children. Because of growing disparities, further emphasis will be directed toward promoting social inclusion by prioritizing the most disadvantaged children, and by addressing the underlying and structural causes of the disparities.

Results at various levels


  •  Reduction in number and concentration of polio cases
  • Increased enrolment of girls in school
  • Increased consumption of vitamin A
  • Increased consumption of iodized salt in certain states
  • Increased sanitation coverage in certain states
  • Reduction in severe malnutrition in certain districts
  • Improved immunization rates in certain districts
  •  Reduction in neo-natal mortality in certain districts

Key components of this approach will be promoting social mobilization as a way of harnessing local energy and resources for children, and promoting child-related behaviour change within households. The programme will also boost its support to the national HIV/AIDS response, and broaden its approach on issues related to child protection.

The Country Programme has contributed to significant gains at the national level, and generated additional results in certain states and districts. The success of the programme has been a result of the leadership of the GOI, and the extensive partnerships with government at state and district levels, sister UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups, including community-based organizations. The recently concluded mid-term review took stock of results achieved to date and reconfirmed the validity of the Country Programme’s objectives and strategies.






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