NEW YORK, USA, 22 June 2011 – On the second day of its 2011 Annual Session, the UNICEF Executive Board yesterday focused on programmes delivering results for children in the field, including those who are the poorest and most marginalized worldwide.
|VIDEO: 21 June 2011 – Noel González Segura, Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN, reports to the UNICEF Executive Board on the findings of an inter-agency field visit to the Philippines. Watch in RealPlayer|
The meeting at UN headquarters featured presentations on two delegation visits to the field – specifically, to the Philippines and Ghana – as well as consideration of over two dozen proposed UNICEF country programme documents. The documents chart UNICEF’s cooperative efforts with governments in specific countries for several years at a time.
In most of the countries where UNICEF works, overall progress towards the Millennium Development Goals is promising, but “evidence and analysis clearly show that there are wide disparities between and within countries,” said Director of Programmes Nick Alipui. These disparities were apparent to participants in both field visits discussed at the Executive Board.
To narrow the gaps and better safeguard the survival, health and development of every child, Mr. Alipui said, “a sharper focus on equity is essential” in all UNICEF country programmes.
‘Transforming lives’ in the Philippines
The Executive Board field visit to the Philippines, which took place from 26 March through 2 April, involved an inter-agency delegation of board members from UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Office for Project Services and the World Food Programme.
|VIDEO: UNICEF's Rob McBride reports on a March-April 2011 visit to the Philippines by Executive Board members from UNICEF and other UN agencies, which was discussed on the second day of the Executive Board's Annual Session. Watch in RealPlayer|
Delegates gained insight into how joint projects with government and civil-society partners in the Philippines are assisting development in the aftermath of civil conflict and natural disasters there. As His Excellency Brian Bowler, the delegation leader and Permanent Representative of Malawi to the UN, said during the visit: “This is what I believe the UN should be all about – transforming lives positively.”
The delegation’s chief rapporteur, Noel González-Segura, Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN, presented its main findings at the Executive Board meeting.
Although the Philippines has recently attained lower-middle-income status among the world’s nations, said Mr. González-Segura, it still faces challenges in fostering equitable and sustained economic growth. He added that the delegation noted specific vulnerabilities – including natural disasters, climate change and rapid population growth – which reinforce the need for coherence and cooperation in the country’s UN team.
Building equity in Ghana
Like the Philippines, Ghana has recently edged into the middle-income bracket, yet pockets of poverty remain there as well. An Executive Board delegation visited the West African country from 9 to 14 May to assess equity-building efforts undertaken by UNICEF – in tandem with the government and other partners.
|VIDEO: 21 June 2011 - Gail Farngalo, Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the UN, provides highlights from the report of a UNICEF Executive Board delegation to Ghana. Watch in RealPlayer|
Gail Farngalo, Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the UN, provided highlights of the delegation’s report to the Executive Board. Ms. Farngalo pointed out that Ghana is on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty. It also has one of the highest primary school enrolment rates on the continent. Still, she said, many obstacles remain.
Notably, Ms. Farngalo reported that Ghana is not on track to achieve MDGs 5 and 7, which call for reducing maternal mortality and expanding access to safe water and sanitation, respectively. She said the draft country programme for UNICEF Ghana would seek to close disparities in these and other critical areas in the coming years.
Country programme documents
The Executive Board’s consideration of 26 proposed country and area programme documents – including programmes for the Philippines and Ghana – followed the reports on the two field visits. The directors of all seven UNICEF Regional Offices presented documents from their regions for discussion and comment. (See box at right for a list of the pending country and area programmes.)
|VIDEO: UNICEF's Guy Hubbard reports on a May 2011 UNICEF Executive Board visit to Ghana, which was discussed on the second day of the Executive Board's Annual Session. Watch in RealPlayer|
Also at yesterday’s meeting, UNICEF’s Executive Board President, Her Excellency Sanja Štiglic, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the UN, announced the Board’s adoption of the UNICEF component in the common country programme document for the United Republic of Tanzania.
The document had been discussed at the Executive Board’s first regular session of 2011. It lays out UNICEF’s programme of cooperation with the Tanzanian Government through June 2015, mapped out within a United Nations Development Assistance Plan of integrated activities with other UN partners.
UNICEF country programmes
At the 2011 Annual Session of the Executive Board, UNICEF Regional Directors presented proposed country and area programmes for the following countries and areas, listed by region.
Americas and the Caribbean: Chile, Eastern Caribbean multi-country programme, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica
Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Albania, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Ukraine
East Asia and the Pacific: Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Philippines
Eastern and Southern Africa: Ethiopia, Zimbabwe
Middle East and North Africa: Morocco, Oman
South Asia: Bangladesh
West and Central Africa: Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal
Ongoing country programmes are to be extended in the following countries.
One-year extensions (approved by Executive Director): Belize, Bhutan, Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Republic of Moldova, Tunisia
Two-year extension (to be approved by the Executive Board): Paraguay
Second consecutive one-year extension (to be approved by Executive Board): South Africa