UNICEF in Myanmar
UNICEF has been working in Myanmar continuously since 1950. Despite difficult political and economic circumstances, UNICEF helped to successfully initiate programs to protect children against small pox, leprosy and yaws. Over time, UNICEF expanded its programs to support the development of rural health services, basic education for children, and community water supply and sanitation systems. More recently, UNICEF has supported HIV/AIDS prevention, early childhood development, and child protection programs. UNICEF also advocated for Myanmar's accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which the government ratified in the 1990s.
More recently, UNICEF has supported HIV/AIDS prevention, early childhood development, and child protection programs.
Today UNICEF supports some programs (such as immunization) throughout the country, while it supports other programs (such as malaria prevention) primarily in high-risk areas of Myanmar. Wherever it can, UNICEF supports an integrated package of health, education, water supply and sanitation interventions as it now does in 61 of Myanmar's most vulnerable townships. UNICEF has field officers positioned throughout the country to enhance implementation and ensure that the assistance it provides reaches those children and women for whom it is intended.
The overriding goal of UNICEF's current program in Myanmar is to protect and further children's rights to survival, development, protection and participation. Recognizing that the wellbeing of children is closely linked to the health and wellbeing of their mothers, UNICEF also works to help women in Myanmar realize these fundamental rights.
In 2013, Myanmar continued its reforms on multiple fronts- political, administrative and economic. The international community further lifted sanctions and increased its assistance. The Nay Pyi Taw Accord was adopted, the first framework of its kind to enhance aid effectiveness and support the development of national policies and plans. In subsequently-established Sector Working Groups such as education and social protection, UNICEF plays a convening role in support of reforms, in addition to providing technical and financial assistance. In other sectors, health and water supply in particular, UNICEF is influencing the adoption of national policies through demonstration projects such as the community case management of childhood illnesses and Community Approaches to Total Sanitation.
UNICEF has further strengthened the evidence base for programming and policy making. The first 2 phases of the Comprehensive Education Sector Review were rigorously completed, providing the needed data for the Government to prioritise reform. The Township Education Management Information System, introduced in 2012, is now being scaled up by the Government with UNICEF and donors’ support. The MoRES methodologywas used to identify the barriers to implementing a social protection framework. The methodology is also being used to analyse barriers to non-formal education, and recently to improve newborn’s health. UNICEF commissioned a study to leverage Government’s revenues from natural resources in support of tangible social investments. Among various cases it made, the much discussed study evidenced that less than 0.9% of revenues from new gas fields days would cover the yearly cost for all vaccines.
Along with the UN family, UNICEF further identified its contributions to the peace process. An education whole-State approach involving Government and ethnic groups is piloted in Mon State and immunization services continued to be provided in the Wa District. Within the CTFMR, UNICEF led effort towards the ending of child recruitment in armed forces and their full demobilisation in the Tatmadaw, through bilateral discussions with Ethnic Armed Groups and within the overall national peace process. An additional 134 children were demobilised, a marked increase from 2012, and the first ever campaign against the recruitment and use of children in the armed forces was launched nation-wide.
In spite of these promising developments, protracted emergencies such as in Rakhine and Kachin undermine the realisation of children’s rights. While immunization services are gradually restored, the provision of education has been slow, and Sphere standards have not been consistently met in other sectors.
Acknowledging weaknesses in the results structure of its 2011-2015 country programme and the rapidly changing environment, UNICEF Myanmar undertook an inclusive Mid-term Review. The review was an opportunity to articulate UNICEF’s strategic contribution to decentralisation, and peace building, as well as to empower its staff to programme with a stronger conflict sensitive lens. Among other recommendations, the Review highlighted the need for UNICEF to address slow progress in its support to health systems strengthening and the SUN initiative by building stronger partnership with UN agencies, INGOs and CSOs and better integrating its programmatic interventions.