Reimagining a Better Future … Responding to the Present

UNICEF Belize for World Children’s Day 2020.

Stephanie Daniels Moody
Belize: children wearing blue UNICEF backpacks run and jump on a beach.
UNICEF Belize/2020/Yuri Espiritu
01 December 2020

UNICEF's World Children’s Day 2020 campaign asked children and adolescents from all over the world to reimagine a better future post COVID-19. For some children this is a difficult task because they are simply trying to survive their current realities. Globally, UNICEF is called to be the leading voice on behalf of children and to work with States and national partners to bridge the gap between the world we have and the world we want for children. Around the world this gap is widening due to the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately affects children and especially those of lower socioeconomic families.

UNICEF has prioritized a humanitarian response to this global crisis. It identifies two priorities: 1. to reduce instances of COVID-19 transmission and mortality through public health initiatives and 2. to reduce the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on the children and families who are most vulnerable. In Belize reducing the risk and impact of COVID-19 is further compounded by the devastating effects of flooding caused by natural disasters such as Hurricane Eta and Iota in rural communities.

Children bear the burden of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Belize: exterior of a house covered with a corrugated roof.
UNICEF Belize/2020/Yuri Espiritu
“LA City” in Seine Bight, Stann Creek District, Belize.

In Belize, approximately 44,000 people are either unemployed or with reduced household income. When household income is reduced or eliminated due to unemployment it translates to reduced access and quality of basic services among the most vulnerable children.

This puts these children at risk for increased cases of COVID-19 and threatens to widen the disparities in education and social protection. Families need the support to meet the needs of their children and reduce inequities.

UNICEF’s work to reduce the risk and impact of COVID-19 for vulnerable children and adolescents in Belize prioritizes responding to the immediate needs of children in remote areas where they are least likely to have access to safe water, sanitation and healthcare.

No child left behind

Belize: two children receive blue UNICEf backpakcs.
UNICEF Belize/2020/Yuri Espiritu
Alison Parker, UNICEF Belize Representative, (left) talks with children in Dangriga, Stann Creek District, Belize.

With funding from the United States Government through the U.S. Embassy and USAID, UNICEF Belize in partnership with the National Committee for Families and Children, Sustainable and Children Friendly Initiative and the Dangriga Child Advisory Body, is implementing a campaign to support families in rural communities. The Back to School Care Package campaign will provide 200 care packages to low-income families in each of the nine municipalities and surrounding villages that are experiencing added financial constraints because of the COVID-19 situation in Belize. This household has six children aged 6–17 years using a single mobile phone for online and distance learning. These supplies delivered at household level were critical to ensure the furthest are reached.

Child rights made practical

Belize: a group of children hold blue UNICEF backpacks in their hands.
UNICEF Belize/2020/Yuri Espiritu
A typical household in Seine Bight, Stann Creek District, Belize.

These care packages include basic school and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, educational materials about the Convention on the Rights of a Child and visual guide of the proper steps for hand washing. A total of 120 families in the Stann Creek, Cayo and Belize districts received these supplies reaching over 400 children in the communities of Sarawee, Gales Point and Duck Run.

A Menstrual Hygiene Management toolkit is also being distributed to young girls. Data compiled through the Child Protection Parenting Study revealed that young girls in these remote areas have less access to menstrual hygiene products that are cost effective and in constant supply. This deprives young girls of their dignity and sometimes disrupts their education during a critical time of their physical and mental development. The Menstrual Hygiene Management kit includes reusable sanitary pads and informational booklets about the menstrual cycle and menstrual hygiene management.

Belize: several children hold a blue UNICEF backpack, standing outdoors.
UNICEF Belize/2020/Yuri Espiritu
Paulette Wade, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer with UNICEF Belize, (right) teaches young girls how to use reusable menstrual kits.

Over the course of the campaign, 2,570 menstrual hygiene kits will be distributed to young girls. Boys will also receive the information booklets to increase their knowledge of menstrual hygiene management as future fathers and husbands.

Belize: two children wearing red t-shirts and a mask interact with each other.
UNICEF Belize/2020/Yuri Espiritu
Dangriga Child Advisory Body Vice-President JayMar and his cousin Kamrhen joined the delegation to share in the experience of teaching their peers about COVID-19 prevention.

Children have the capacity to lead and can contribute meaningfully when facilitated by those in leadership. The Back to School Care Package campaign includes the participation of Belize’s Child Advisory Body in each of the nine municipalities. Members participate in the campaign as peer educators.

The roll out of the Back to School Care Package campaign will conclude with distrbutions in the cayes and northern Belize. UNICEF Belize will continue to support the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social protection systems and programmes that help families stay afloat of the crisis. UNICEF Belize commits to providing technical advice and humanitarian aid relief to supplement gaps in services that protect the most vulnerable children.

For every child, every right.