UNICEF and partners breaking ground for children in Nepalgunj as earthquake-resistant office opens doors
By Rupa Joshi
NEPALGUNJ, Nepal, 16 January 2013 - On the 79th anniversary of the massive 1934 earthquake that devastated Kathmandu and other parts of the country, UNICEF has inaugurated a new office in Nepalgunj, where UNICEF will implement its new country programme; designed to reach the most inaccessible, neglected children in the region.
Nepalgunj has long been a hub of UNICEF activities in the region, but the timing of the new office opening coincides with a ramped up five year long programme. The new office will be staffed by experts in Education, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Behaviour Change, Child Protection and Governance, while national programme officers in several satellite offices will spread across the mid and far western regions of the country with some of the most difficult terrain and accessibility to bring new programmes for children. UNICEF staff will work closely with government officials, NGO partners and women and children to make sure that the gap in services that the rich access is also extended to the poorest.
After inaugurating the building, UNICEF Nepal Representative Ms. Hanaa Singer, emphasized the significance of the new country programme, for the two regions where gender and social disparities are particularly evident.
“Over 80 per cent of the children in the mid and far west region aged 2 to 14 have experienced violence, and I mean violence that is both psychological and physical,” she said. “We know that children who experience violence grow up to become perpetrators.” Adding, "We have to stop this cycle of violence, and I know we can if we do "hate malo" and work together."
The new country programme, while focusing policy, system, and societal factors that influence equitable access to education, health care, nutrition, sanitation, clean water, protection and information for women, adolescents and children will also have special provisions for an anti-violence campaign, work to get more communities to achieve 100 per cent toilet coverage in households and schools and create child-driven disaster awareness programmes, a critical area in a country assailed by earthquakes and climate-change driven calamities.
Areas deemed "low performing districts", based on the child deprivation index, situated in the mid and far western hills as well as some in the Terai will receive special focus in order to help the government to narrow the gap between the have and have nots, and also to develop and refine legislation and multi-sector policies at national level.
Local officials were on hand to welcome the new office that will act as a model of earthquake-resistant design and to commit to working with UNICEF on its new programmes.
Mr. Dhundi Raj Pokhrel, Chief District Officer of Banke, who was the Chief Guest, while appreciating UNICEF's role in uplifting the situation of children and women in Nepal since the 1960s, said, "We are confident that UNICEF will continue to work to build a more inclusive society and to work for the development of and protection of children in the mid and far western regions of Nepal."
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