UNICEF promotes the best interests of children in social and economic policy debates. Following research revealing that many children from the poorest families were missing out on benefits, the 2009 Law on State Social Benefits, developed and implemented with UNICEF support, saw several thousand more vulnerable children become eligible, while following further reforms, an additional 38,000 needy children have received the benefits since 2012. In recognition of UNICEF’s key role in social policy, it has been appointed the co-chair of the donor community’s coordination council on social protection.
At the local level, UNICEF has in recent years researched barriers to accessing benefits that are not easily apparent to national-level policy makers. These are now being addressed through an action plan coordinated by the Ministry of Social Development. Meanwhile, in vulnerable communities, 192 local government representatives and other stakeholders have been supported to improve their planning knowledge and skills to ensure that local strategies, plans and budgets are child-sensitive and improve social welfare, particularly for the most vulnerable.
UNICEF is also helping Government partners to develop a broader understanding of child poverty. The Child Well-being Index, an innovative statistical tool developed with UNICEF support that combines material poverty with other broader indicators of wellbeing, is being used by the National Statistical Committee to track trends in the country.