UNICEF Executive Director announces $500,000 for social protection programs in Congo
Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, 24 August 2009 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, in her visit to The Republic of the Congo, today announced $500,000 in additional support for health, nutrition and education programs to help mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis on the most vulnerable.
Congo-Brazzaville, which lies in the heart of the African continent, is recovering from two civil wars that resulted in the displacement of over 1 million people.
Despite progress made since the peace agreement in 2003, more than half the population now lives below the poverty line.
"Women and children are the most affected by poverty," said Veneman. "In Congo-Brazzaville, one in eight children die before their fifth birthday, largely from preventable causes. The country also has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the region."
The UNICEF Executive Director visited the "Life Savers" national initiative, which in close cooperation with the Congolese Government, promotes 12 simple, easy to practice household behaviors, such as exclusive breast feeding for 6 months, sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito bednet, hand washing with soap, and the use of oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea.
She also visited the "Life Saving Telephone" center, a 24/7 hotline which provides parents and caregivers an emergency number to call when their child is sick.
The UNICEF Executive Director met with the Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba and several ministers where she commended the government on improving access to social services including health and education.
Veneman also raised the issue of treatment of indigenous people (pygmies) especially children who are marginalized by society and often face discrimination.