At this critical time of global crises, UNICEF is strategically reflecting on who we are, who we reach, and how we can strategically fund initiatives to best support  those most vulnerable, most marginalized, facing a daily struggle to survive.

Though UNICEF has always prioritized children, a broad discussion to re-focus our efforts with renewed strength and strategy is underway in every UNICEF office. New research indicates that reaching the bottom quintiles has the greatest effect on child survival and opportunity for positive change.

Despite remarkable recent progress on some fronts, Mali remains challenged by sharp inequities: 47.4 percent of Malians live below the poverty line with children and women the most severely affected. Indeed, Mali generally has some of the world’s worst indicators: infant mortality at 194 per 1000 live births, and maternal mortality at 970 per 100,000 live births, for example. These statistics place Mali very far from attaining the targets for health and child survival of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, with only five years remaining of the timeframe set for their achievement.

Using this “pro-poor” strategy, along with community-led interventions, support for behaviour change, advanced mobile technology and innovative initiatives, we expect better results while working towards the MDGs. A new equity-oriented approach to reach those with the fewest resources will accelerate progress in the key child survival areas faster than the path currently being followed, in a cost-effective and sustainable way, to:

  • Get results for all children through low cost, high impact interventions;
  • Strengthen the evidence base to measure effectiveness and accountability;
  • Build strategic partnerships and ensuring better leveraging of resources;
  • Focus programme communication and advocacy on the most disadvantaged.

Clearly in Mali the priority is to break the inter-generational cycles of poverty, illiteracy, isolation and limited human resources holding the country back. Addressing gender concerns, through the legislative provisions of the Family Code for example, is a prerequisite. Educated and empowered women are one of Mali’s key missing resources.

Neither a child’s status, nor gender, affects the guarantees of rights embodied in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; they are commitments made to all children, everywhere. Progress to finalize a national policy and framework for cooperation on child protection is urgently required.

On a practical basis sharper and more detailed monitoring, evaluation and analysis is needed to understand how and why exclusion occurs to re-structure new or enhanced modalities for service delivery. In the country’s extensive and difficult terrain, sustaining a working supply chain is a major challenge.

With the help of the Government, key donors, local and international partners, UNICEF Mali strives to make sustainable change for the populations served by our initiatives and to communicate clearly the priorities, challenges and successes in doing so. We are working diligently to address these grave inequities and offer children, women and communities across the country greater access to health services, improved water, sanitation and hygiene, information, education and protections.

The ultimate outcome of an improved national vision is to reduce disparities and achieve future development for Mali and Malians characterised by equitability and distribution of resources and ultimately... greater opportunity.

Kanyankore Marcel Rudasingwa

Representative, UNICEF Mali



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