Local Government Minister calls on Regional Administration to “Zero in on Children” at UNICEF Regional Integration Caucus
Georgetown, March 18, 2009 - Minister of Local Government Kellawan Lall yesterday called on all Regional Democratic Councils (RDC) Chairmen and Executive Officers to do what is necessary to take care of children in the regions, especially those in critical situations.
The minister made the call while addressing more than forty Regional Chairmen, Executive Officers and other administrators from the ten administrative regions of the country at the commencement of a two-day meeting of the United Nations Children s Fund (UNICEF) to discuss and support interventions in the hinterland and develop regional integrated plans for Guyana. The second day of the meeting will see a coming together of Religious leaders for discussions with the UNICEF Regional Director, Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg on building alliances for Children in Guyana.
“Each child is an asset, not only to Guyana, but to the world, and their needs must be looked at in a holistic way,” the Minister opined. Continuing he explained that as Government tries to provide more infrastructure, roads, bridges and more, there are many challenges that have not yet been addressed. “How do show care, love and protection to our children. Something as easy as going to school may be challenging for a child depending on where that child lives. We need to zero in on the most unfortunate, look at where the issues lie, bring them together and concentrate efforts at reducing their impact.”
The Local Government Minister also explained that one way to break the cycle of poverty is to educate our children, so they do not become burdens on society. He called for collaboration with the Ministry of Education, parents, community and religious leaders, everyone to work together for the betterment of our children.
UNICEF Regional Director, Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, during his address to the gathering emphasized the importance and urgency in establishing a continuum of change for children, especially to bring about visibility for children in hinterland areas. He charged Regional administrators to highlight the issues and challenges specific to their individual regions so they can receive the find of attention and support needed for change to occur.
While child protection remained a key issue in all regions, some of the major challenging issues identified by the RDCs were child labour, sexual exploitation and violence, including incest, HIV/AIDS, truancy, violence, suicide, male under-achievement and the limited capacity at regional level to support Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC). Access to safe water also remains an issue especially during the dry season in the hinterland areas. The regional heads also called for more advocacy at all levels of society with the involvement of children and religious leaders. This call, however, came one day ahead of the scheduled meeting of leaders of Faith Based organizations aimed build partnerships for children.
The meeting of RDC administration is to follow up on the recommendations made in the Mid Term Review of the Government of Guyana/UNICEF Country Programme Action Plan 2006 - 2010, held in November 2008 and the End of Year Review 2008, where the Regional disparities in development were highlighted by the 2006 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) necessitating a refocusing of UNICEF supported interventions. The initiation of Regional Integrated Development Plans through the RDCs has been one output from these recommendations alongside an identification of areas of support required by the RDCs for monitoring their implementation.