UNICEF and New Zealand seal commitment to indigenous children
The UN children’s agency UNICEF and the New Zealand Government announced today their continued partnership for children’s rights, with the signing of a two-year plan for the indigenous people of Mountain Province.
Since 2003 the New Zealand Government, through its international development agency NZAID, has been instrumental in UNICEF’s work in promoting child rights in Mountain Province. It has supported the convergence of basic services on health, nutrition, education and child protection, as well as the establishment and monitoring of child-friendly places and institutions.
Because of the support of partners such as the New Zealand Government, Mountain Province, despite being one of the poorest provinces in the country, is close to attaining zero maternal and infant mortality deaths. This is due to a massive health management campaign and active community health and social development teams called “Pinagpagan,” named after the traditional woven blankets used to carry children or ferry the wounded.
“UNICEF’s work in Mountain Province involves an integrated approach to improving child welfare, with interventions delivered through existing local government mechanisms through all critical stages of child development”, said New Zealand Ambassador Andrew Matheson. “So it is able to deliver an overall environment that supports children and encourages greater awareness of children’s rights and children’s issues”.
This new two-year partnership puts special focus on the indigenous Igorot population of Mountain Province. New Zealand’s contribution of more than 18 million pesos has been earmarked for health, education, child protection and policy initiatives for four priority municipalities that need the most assistance.
Programs pushing for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, especially the achievement of basic primary education and improvement of maternal health will also be given attention. UNICEF ensures that the programs will be implemented within the context of indigenous cultures and practices.
“We at UNICEF believe that partnerships are critical to achieving results for children. This new partnership with New Zealand will be valuable in empowering marginalized indigenous communities in the Philippines”, UNICEF Representative Vanessa Tobin said. “We are grateful that the New Zealand Government shares in our belief of a world in which all children are able to survive and thrive”.
New Zealand’s continuing involvement in UNICEF’s work in Mountain Province reflects its long term commitment to achieving equitable development benefits for women and men, girls and boys, particularly among indigenous peoples.