UNICEF’s story in 2012: unrelenting efforts for world’s most vulnerable children
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“As the Millennium Development Goals deadline approaches, we have cause to celebrate declining poverty rates, the near eradication of polio, increased immunizations, more girls attending school, improved access to clean water and nutrition, and more children surviving and thriving beyond their fifth birthdays than ever before,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “But these results are no excuse for rest.”
Emergencies dominated headlines in 2012 and the report notes that the organization and its partners responded to 286 humanitarian situations in 79 countries. Life-saving support provided through UNICEF included:
• Therapeutic feeding programmes for more than 2.1 million severely malnourished children under the age of five
In April 2012, UNICEF launched a global social media campaign, SahelNOW, that drove awareness and coverage to the impending nutrition crisis in the region.
The horrific conflict in Syria demanded a special effort; UNICEF helped provide access to uninterrupted education for nearly 80,000 children affected by the conflict, supported measles vaccination for more than 1.4 million children and provided psychosocial care for an estimated 47,000 children. UNICEF also delivered safe water in refugee camps and to host communities, benefitting more than 100,000 people, and winter supplies to more than 260,000 people in Syria.
Beyond such crises, UNICEF continued its work to place children at the top of the global agenda.
In June 2012, UNICEF joined the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States to launch Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, a global movement to end preventable child deaths. By end 2012, representatives of 168 governments and more than 400 civil society and faith-based organizations had pledged to redouble efforts to save every child from a preventable death. With support from UNICEF and its partners, governments took the lead in sharpening national health plans and setting measurable milestones.
Capitalizing on innovation to reach the most disadvantaged was also central to UNICEF’s work in 2012. For example, in many countries, low birth registration rates leave children unable to attend school and vulnerable to trafficking, among other dangers. In Nigeria and Uganda, UNICEF devised a system for registering births using SMS.
Similarly, to quickly diagnose and treat HIV-infected infants in Zambia, UNICEF supported a RapidSMS programme. From the 2010 pilot to 2012, the programme transmitted over 10,000 HIV test results from laboratories in two main cities to more than 260 mostly rural health facilities, slashing turnaround time from 44 days to 26.
Within the UN, the organization helped lead various innovative initiatives. For example, in March 2012, the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children was formed by UNICEF and UNFPA in support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child movement.
The Commission aims at improving access to high-impact, low cost health interventions for children under five and women of childbearing age. Of 13 life-saving commodities identified as priorities by the Commission, UNICEF is the leading procurer for 10.
The organization remains both a world leader in the procurement of supplies for children and the world’s largest provider of vaccines to developing countries. In 2012, UNICEF’s procurement strategies and innovative financing mechanisms generated savings of more than US$197 million.
And despite a competitive funding environment amid financial concerns in much of the world, cash contributions to UNICEF rose by eight per cent over the previous year, underscoring donor trust in UNICEF’s ability to leverage its expertise, technical know-how, broad partnerships and global reach to save and enhance the lives of children.
In 2012, UNICEF joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative in order to provide more complete information to the public on its activities, how they are funded, and how much is spent. In another move to increase transparency and accountability, UNICEF expanded public disclosure through releasing online internal audit reports, evaluations and country office annual reports.