27 July 2009 - Remarks by Mr. Per Engebak, UNICEF Representative, a.i. at the opening of the 2009 Mid-Year Review of the Country Programme of Cooperation between the Government of National Unity and UNICEF.
Mr. Director-General for External Resources of the Ministry of International Cooperation, – distinguished representatives of the Government of National Unity, UNICEF colleagues, honourable friends from Sudanese civil society, ladies and gentlemen.
I am pleased to join you today at this mid-year review of the 2009 Programme between the Government of National Unity and UNICEF Sudan North Area Programme.
This is the first year of the current four-year Country Programme of Cooperation. Today’s review will focus on the first six months of this year and concentrate on the implementation of Annual Workplans of different projects, grouped under seven programmes. The last six months have seen excellent progress made towards the survival and development of children in the north of Sudan. We will discuss this progress in more detail, and identify ways upon which we can build on key achievements in order to respond to the challenges that remain.
These reviews provide an opportunity to note lessons learned, identify the constraints faced, and agree on a way forward that ensures the full achievement of our shared programme and its contribution towards the Millennium Development Goals for children.
We will hear today of how the health and nutrition interventions have increased immunization coverage and reduced the incidence of communicable diseases- malaria, diarrhoea, dysentery and respiratory infections - which are persistent causes of child mortality and morbidity.
We will discuss how investing in Sudan’s skill base – for example through the training of teachers – will pay valuable dividends for future generations of qualified professionals that this country needs.
We will talk about issues affecting children that for too long have been cloaked in silence – such as the threat of HIV and AIDS, and violence against women and children in our society – and agree on effective ways of addressing these issues that both strengthen our responses, while respecting the culture and belief systems of Sudan.
We will review key policy developments within the Government of National Unity, and ensure that our legislative and strategic framework continues to protect and enhance the status of children and women.
We will reflect on the conflict that sadly still affects parts of Sudan, and recognize the importance of continued humanitarian assistance in areas where communities are still unable to focus on development.
At the same time, there will be opportunities to focus on the importance of recovery and development in areas where such activities are possible. Packages of integrated services, combined with strengthening of capacity amongst community members, provides the necessary empowerment and ownership for hundreds of communities in the north of Sudan. This convergence of different services for children and women and an integrated monitoring system to assess results is unique in its approach. For us all, this means more cooperation at national and local level in planning, implementing and monitoring of activities.
This year, following the expulsion of a number of UNICEF’s partner NGOs, the government and UNICEF moved quickly forward to fill the gap in the short-term, notably in the Darfur states. Today we will see just how this work was undertaken, but also note the serious implication for our budget and for longer-term programmatic approaches. While the government’s immediate response has been recognized, further allocations of resources from the Federal and State government budget will be required if we are to meet the challenges ahead.
The 2006 Sudan Household Health Survey (SHHS) provided us with valuable data to monitor progress made by Sudan against different socio-economic indicators. It is now important that we update that data, with a second survey, and we should start that process now. Today, I call upon the Ministry of Health and Central Bureau of Statistics along with their counterparts in Southern Sudan to take a decision in this respect.
Your Excellency, UNICEF will continue its best efforts in mobilizing resources and providing the technical and financial assistance that will enhance national capacity and create new opportunities for the survival and development of children.
I hope that today will further strengthen the work of both the government and UNICEF and I thank you all for your efforts in the name of children across Sudan, and look forward to a constructive and productive day of review, discussion and evaluation.