UNICEF in Turkmenistan
UNICEF has worked in Turkmenistan since 1992 and is committed to supporting the Government and nascent civil society partners to ensure that all children in the country are able to access their full spectrum of rights. In particular, UNICEF promotes equity in outcomes for children and contributes to addressing disparities.
Focus and Strategies
Building on national priorities, the UNICEF Programme of Cooperation focuses on:
1.Technical assistance in improving legislation and policies, as well as in increasing public expenditures for programmes benefiting children and leveraging public resources for the realization of child rights
2.Capacity building, especially the capacity of institutions and public agencies, in such areas as:
o Gender-disaggregated data collection, monitoring and evaluation
o Education reform
o Delivery of high-quality health services and generation of key knowledge in the health sector
o Enhanced national knowledge on gaps in child protection services, as well as improved detection, management, referral and follow-up in cases of abuse exploitation and violence against children
3.Strengthened capacities of families to care for their children
Other important UNICEF strategies include widening strategic partnerships, knowledge development, and high-level advocacy. The programme is further informed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Turkmenistan is a signatory. Under the Convention, all children have the right to survival, development, and participation.
Advocacy for children also is conducted within the framework of a culture that cherishes children and that recognizes that, with of its people younger than 18, this represents a critical segment of society. Considerable fiscal space for child-friendly policies exists in Turkmenistan, which has become an upper-middle-income country. Development of vast oil and gas reserves and increasing energy exports have helped boost GDP by an annual average of 18.6 per cent since 2000.
In terms of human development, Turkmenistan is set to achieve most of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. UNICEF has worked with the Government on many of the MDG targets, including full gender parity in education, advances in child immunization, addressing of child labour issues, and progress in ensuring micronutrients for the people through salt iodization and flour fortification. In several of these areas, Turkmenistan’s progress has been recognized at the global level.
UNICEF has influenced a series of measures and policies that has resulted in the adoption of international norms with regard to juvenile justice, baby-friendly hospital practices, safe delivery, child immunization and flour fortification. Particular attention has been given to assist the Government to fulfil its international treaty obligations, in line with the country’s aspirations to harmonize national laws with key human rights instruments. Likewise, UNICEF has worked to improve practices among target populations on child rights, life skills, gender and HIV knowledge, with a focus on strengthened capacities of caregivers, teachers, health workers and community leaders, among others.
UNICEF programming has made special headway in the areas of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and of disability. Support to improving access to and quality of preschool education, thereby ensuring school readiness, has included the development of institutional capacity through establishment of various forms of community-based preschool education services. Further, UNICEF has stimulated the Government’s keen interest in introducing developmental paediatrics and the early detection of child developmental delays and disabilities, as well as in development of the evidence base for ending the placement of children under age 3 in institutions.
All these achievements testify to the fact that the Government, with UNICEF assistance, is making significant progress in promoting enabling environment for children. Nevertheless, there remain unresolved challenges to fully translate policies into concrete actions for all children. The main implementation bottlenecks are a lack of reliable data and monitoring systems; a need for more effective and efficient budgeting, stemming from low capacity in governance and public finance management; the favoured financing of infrastructure; low human capacity in all social sectors; and a lack of a modern human resource development strategy.
Key Targets of the UNICEF Country Programme
In keeping with the MDGs, the CRC, and outcomes of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework in Turkmenistan (UNDAF), the current UNICEF Country Programme 2010–2015 identifies the following key targets to be reached:
(a) Reduction of under-5 mortality by at least one-third, from 50 to 33 per 1,000 live births, through a stronger focus on neonatal health, family care and community support;
(b) Reduction of underweight prevalence by at least one-third, from 8 to 5 per cent, through improved infant feeding practices, elimination of micronutrient deficiencies and strengthened community support
(c) Increased and equitable budget allocations for national plans on preschool and basic education and on juvenile justice
(d) Incorporation of implementing mechanisms in national child protection and gender policy frameworks, to detect, manage, refer and follow up cases of abuse, exploitation and violence against girls and boys
(e) Attendance by at least 50 per cent of children aged 4–7 years at kindergartens adhering to international early learning and development standards, and provision by at least 25 per cent of schools of basic education using child-friendly school standards
(f) Reduction of HIV risks and vulnerability among adolescents and pregnant women