UNICEF in Uzbekistan
UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. After independent Uzbekistan became a member of the United Nations, UNICEF opened its Country Office in Tashkent on 1 March 1994.
Through its successive programmes of cooperation, UNICEF has assisted the Government at the central and local levels to address issues related to the rights and wellbeing of children and their families in partnership with civil society organizations, Members of Parliament, communities, youth, mass media, as well as multilateral and bilateral development partners.
The first Country Programme of Cooperation started in 1995 and supported an uninterrupted delivery of basic services for children and women. This included provision of supplies and trainings for service providers in health and education sectors. Water supply and sanitation needs of rural communities living in the Aral Sea basin were also addressed.
By 1999, provision of basic services for children was well underway, allowing UNICEF to shift the focus from emergency response to a longer term and comprehensive programming. A rights-based approach was also prioritized to ensure that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) becomes the standard for health, education and protection of children. The CRC states that children need good health care services, proper nutrition, good quality education, protection from harm and exploitation, a safe environment, and encouragement to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
Since 2000, UNICEF’s assistance to Uzbekistan has gradually expanded to address all aspects of the rights and wellbeing of children, including the right to protection from violence and abuse and to participation (according to age and ability) in matters that affect their lives. In the past decade there has been a significant increase in UNICEF’s financial and human resource investment in Uzbekistan and the focus has shifted from supply and service delivery to technical assistance, evidence based advocacy and knowledge sharing on issues related to children and women.
The current Country Programme of Cooperation for 2010-2015 supports the national priorities and the Millennium Development Goals. It focuses on two major areas:
- Improving quality basic social services for children and women, i.e. in the areas of maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, education, and child protection. A sustainable, more integrated system of basic services will better address the needs of women and children. The work on policy and service-delivery levels will be continued and best practices will be expanded nationwide. The most vulnerable children - those without parental care, with disabilities, in conflict with law, affected by HIV or involved in child labour – will remain at the centre of attention.
- Strengthening national capacity for social policy development and implementation and monitoring of child rights. Improved analysis of the well-being of women and children will be supported to ensure evidence-based decision making. Capacities of local institutions will be further strengthened for more effective policy and resource use. The state coordination systems for monitoring, reporting and follow-up on child rights will be strengthened at national and sub-national levels. Evidence-based advocacy will be an important element for leveraging resources.
Under this country programme, UNICEF is continuing to provide technical support to the Government to translate national laws, programmes and action plans into comprehensive programming for children. There is an added emphasis on communication for development to empower families and communities to demand better healthcare, education, social protection and other services for children. Youth participation is also supported through an enhanced environment and improved access to information and life skills opportunities.