|© UNICEF Brazil/2007/Ribas|
|Jefferson, 13 (left), plays basketball with friends in Quebrangulo, one of the 192 Brazilian municipalities awarded the UNICEF Municipal Seal of Approval in 2006.|
By Flavia Ribas
QUEBRANGULO, Brazil, 26 April 2007 – Today marks the launch of the second edition of the UNICEF Municipal Seal of Approval in the Semi-Arid, taking place in the 11 states of Brazil’s most impoverished region.
Quebrangulo, a small municipality in Alagoas State, northeastern Brazil, is one of 192 municipalities that have been awarded the seal of approval. The town is home to 12,000 people, including some 5,000 children and adolescents. Its citizens, including the children, are proud of winning this important award.
“The municipality of Quebrangulo respects the rights of every child and adolescent,” proclaims a sign in the town square.
“With the UNICEF Seal, my city became famous. More people get to know more about where I live. We are now recognized nationally and internationally,” says Jefferson, 13, who has been involved in the seal initiative by participating in a weekly radio programme, ‘Voices of Youth’, with three other adolescents.
|© UNICEF Brazil/2007/Ribas|
|Brazilian adolescents participating in the ‘Voices of Youth’ radio programme.|
By participating in the UNICEF Seal project, a municipality reaffirms its commitment to ensuring better lives for children. But it is awarded the seal only if it meets set goals related to the reduction of infant mortality rates, improved pre-natal care, greater access to quality education and other indicators measuring the quality of children’s and adolescents’ lives.
The UNICEF Seal also measures the increased participation of children in cultural, political and educational projects throughout the semi-arid region.
During the last edition of the initiative, child mortality rates in participating municipalities fell from 25.6 to 21.9 per 1,000 live births in two years. There was also a decrease in the malnutrition rate among children under two, from 9.2 per cent to 6.8 per cent, and pre-natal care coverage rose from 31.4 per cent to 33.6 per cent of pregnant women.
Opportunities for children
The results of the UNICEF Seal can be seen not only in statistics but also on the faces of children who participate in the cultural and political life of the city – as well as environmental education activities, cultural groups and communication projects.
In all, 1.3 million children and adolescents throughout the semi-arid region have developed and implemented special projects through the UNICEF Seal initiative in their hometowns.
In the new edition of the initiative launched today, UNICEF aims to involve all of the region’s municipalities and replicate the excellent results achieved in the first round. During the past two years, 1,179 municipalities managed to achieve sustainable results, thanks to the participation of millions of people working together to create better opportunities for children.