UNICEF's Emergency Response to the 2004 Tsunami
In the two years since the tsunami, the UNICEF Maldives Country Office has undergone significant programmatic and management changes. The office has expanded from a core group of 11 staff, pre-Tsunami, to a current team of 46. This expansion emerged after a corporate decision to restructure the country programme as a Tsunami Recovery Programme, due to the devastating effects of the Tsunami on the entire country.
After the rapid growth in staff, resources, and subsequent programme expansion in 2005, UNICEF has spent 2006 working to bring much-needed stability to the programme. In 2006, UNICEF moved from relief to recovery phase, shifting its focus from the Core Commitments for Children (CCCs) to contributing to National Development Goals and the MDGs.
UNICEF has worked in collaboration with government, international agencies, and civil society at the national, atoll, and island levels to provide support, coordination, and leadership to the nationwide Tsunami Recovery Programme, working with counterparts and partners to establish systems, procedures, and partnerships that can effectively implement the last year of tsunami recovery and provide a sustainable transition to the 2008-2010 UNDAF and UNICEF Country Programme.
UNICEF is working to help the government coordinate recovery efforts and respond effectively to the increased inputs from international agencies and the challenges of overcoming longstanding inequalities between island communities in the atolls and Malé, the nation’s capital. Basic infrastructure and information systems are being improved in these remote islands and health and nutrition, water and sanitation, education, child protection, and psychosocial initiatives are being implemented that promise to better integrate island communities into important national projects, particularly those meant to achieve MDGs. UNICEF programmes have sought to create relationships with partners, build capacity in the government, and initiate discussions that will advance a child-centred agenda and “build back better,” physically, socially, and psychologically.
UNICEF’s expected outcomes of the Tsunami Recovery Programme by the end of 2007 are as follow:
- Health and Nutrition: Children in all atolls have access to quality health services and children in 5 atolls will benefit from the 5 Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) care practices
- Quality Education: Children under 8 years in all preschools and 50% of primary schools will receive quality education
- Child Protection and Adolescent Livelihoods: Children in Male’ and at least 2 atolls will have access to coordinated protection services that will provide them with legal and social redress as victims and offenders
- HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to children is prevented and controlled, and youth and adolescents vulnerable to, or demonstrating, risky behaviour are provided with information on the risks and implications of drug abuse
- Water and Sanitation: Target communities will have access to improved, sustainable water sources and sanitation services