In the 30 years since the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF, supported by donors, has initiated and carried out numerous programmes and activities aimed at improving the wellbeing of children.
Every kuna for children counts, and we handle donations with the highest level of responsibility. On average, 75 per cent of donations are used for programmes for children in Croatia, and 25 per cent of donations are designated for children in other, crisis-stricken countries.
Here are some of the most important achievement of UNICEF in Croatia:
1. A good start for children and parents
- Since 2016, all maternity wards in Croatia are “Baby-Friendly Hospitals”, which has helped increase the percentage of breastfed children upon leaving the maternity ward. All neonatal intensive care units in Croatia have been provided with equipment that enables skin-to-skin contact and for the feeding of preterm babies with breast milk.
- There are over 200 breastfeeding support groups in Croatia.
- The establishment of the Human Milk Bank has made breast milk available on prescription for all prematurely born babies and seriously ill children.
- The campaign “The First Three Are the Most Important” has raised awareness of the importance of the first three years of a child’s life and of creating an environment that stimulates growth and development.
2. A stimulating environment for every child
- The “Growing Up Together” and “Growing Up Together Plus” workshops, a special workshop for fathers entitled “Fathers’ Club”, and the “Growing Up Together, Count Us In” workshop for families at risk helped thousands of parents develop stimulating caregiving skills.
- The “Every Child Needs a Family” campaign has enabled hundreds of children to spend their childhood in a caring foster family instead of in an institution.
- Financial support has been provided for foster families of the youngest children to enable them to obtain equipment such as pushchairs, cots and child car seats.
- The “Read to Me!” campaign has raised awareness of the importance of reading to children from the youngest age; thousands of picturebooks have been distributed and there has been an increase in the number of young children visiting and joining libraries.
Being part of a foster family is so important because it allows me to have a family that takes care of me and supports me in achieving my goals.
3. Security and safety
- During the Homeland War, UNICEF provided emergency relief – food, medicine, vaccines, firewood and other items.
- The “Stop the Violence among Children” programme was implemented in 300 schools across Croatia, and the rate of violence among children and young people decreased by 50%.
- Over HRK 1 million was invested in humanitarian aid and psychosocial support for boys and girls in Gunja after the flood.
- During the migrant crisis, children were provided with psychosocial support, health care, learning support, school equipment and other items and services.
- UNICEF has provided audio-visual equipment for courts to allow the testimonies of child victims and/or witnesses of crime to be recorded so that children do not have to testify more than once and relive the event that traumatised them.
- Through the “Assistive Communication” programme, children with developmental difficulties have been provided with IT equipment and special devices so they can express their thoughts, needs and feelings. UNICEF has provided training for experts and also equipment for assistive communication for 32 institutions in Croatia.
- Through the “Choose What You Watch” campaign and the setting up of the medijskapismenost.hr website, children, parents, educators and teachers have learned about the importance of thinking critically about the media and being safe online.
- A model was developed for the successful inclusion of children from the most vulnerable groups (members of national minorities, children from disadvantaged families and children with disabilities) into the early education system.
Communication devices make everyday situations, such as asking for food and drink, using the toilet or expressing feelings, so much easier. They have increased the quality of life for the whole family.
5. Together with children and youth
- A total of 90,000 children and young people have taken part in the “Schools for Africa” programme where they have learned the importance of education and solidarity with peers growing up in dire conditions.
- Support has been given to the Children’s Rights Festival that promotes filmmaking among children and youth, as well as participation and inclusion.
At the global level, UNICEF and its donors have contributed to many positive changes for children around the world. Some of them are:
- a 50% decrease in the mortality of children under the age of 5
- the percentage of malnourished children has been cut nearly in half
- the incidence of polio has declined by 99%