|© UNICEF/HQ07-0866/ Cranston|
|A seven-year-old girl sits on the edge of another student’s chair in an overcrowded class at a UNICEF-supported school in Southern Sudan, one of 25 countries whose children will benefit from Japan's support.|
By Mihoko Nakagawa
TOKYO, Japan, 2 April 2008 – In reaffirming its commitment to the world’s disadvantaged children, the Government of Japan has announced a total of $109 million in contributions to support UNICEF’s work around the world.
The donations, announced over the past several months, are part of Japan’s expanded effort towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals – particularly in Africa – and will benefit children in 25 countries.
Sudan is the largest recipient of Japan’s support, having received over $12 million. The country is in great need of these funds to ensure the health of its children.
“This contribution from the Government of Japan will have a significant impact,” said UNICEF Representative in Sudan Ted Chaiban.
A clear need in Africa
Africa is lagging behind in reaching the MDGs. While global deaths of children under the age of five reached a record low of 9.7 million last year, some 4.8 million children in sub-Saharan Africa still fail to reach their fifth birthday annually. Africa’s situation presents a clear need for removing bottlenecks and scaling up action towards the achievement of the MDGs by 2015.
Mr. Chaiban noted that the donation will allow UNICEF and its partners to deliver more integrated health services, including immunization, micro-nutrient supplementation, distribution of anti-malarial bednets and promotion of better hygiene practices.
The money will also build systems and structures that strengthen national and grassroots capacity for long-term development.
|© UNICEF Angola/2008|
|A mother and child in Angola who received a bednet procured through Japan’s support.|
“In addition,” Mr. Chaiban continued, “the further investments in education, made possible by Japan's assistance, will allow us to build on the success of seeing primary school enrolment in Southern Sudan almost triple since 2005, and the annual increase in enrolment seen in Darfur.”
A valuable partner
Japan has been a valuable partner for UNICEF, particularly in the areas of malaria prevention and immunization. Japan has assisted with the procurement of cold-chain vaccination equipment and insecticide-treated bednets.
UNICEF’s response to emergencies such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, the earthquake in Pakistan and the Iraq crisis, among others, also benefited from Japan’s generous support.
Japan’s donations include the recently announced voluntary contribution of $16 million, as well as multi-year, flexible, thematic support of $52.3 million and $40.6 million, approved in February and December, respectively.
Supporting development in Africa
Development in Africa, with an emphasis on peace-building, is high on Japan’s agenda. The country has been supporting education activities in the hope that schools will serve as a hub of community development in post-conflict settings.
“Our partnership with Japan goes back more than 50 years, and the government has consistently demonstrated strong leadership for human security and maternal and child health,” said Director of UNICEF Tokyo Dan Rohrmann.
This year, Japan will host two important international conferences: the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in May and the G8 in July. At TICAD, delegates are expected to discuss issues that greatly affect the world’s children, such as health, education, water and sanitation, and climate change, and formulate an action plan.
“With TICAD and G8 featuring prominently in Japan this year, the government is demonstrating its commitment to children in the most disadvantaged situation by providing this extraordinary and generous support,” Mr. Rohrmann said. “Japan is helping accelerate action for children, since this contributes to realizing children’s rights and helps create a world fit for children.”