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Partnership Appreciation Statement by The UNICEF Resident Representative, Mrs Sara Beysolow Nyanti, at UNICEF’s Partnership Banquet and Theatre Evening, marking UNICEF’s 70th Anniversary

© UNICEF Gambia 2016
The Resident Representative in The Gambia, Mrs. Sara Beysolow Nyanti

Today is a very important day, not only for UNICEF but for all of our partners, as it celebrates 70 years of achievements and results for children both globally and in The Islamic Republic of The Gambia. UNICEF was established in 1946 to address the humanitarian needs of children affected by the effects of World War II, providing food, clothing and health care to them. In 1953, in the wake of the disease yaws, the United Nations General Assembly extended UNICEFs mandate, and made it a permanent part of its body. Since then, UNICEF has become the world’s leading international organization mandated to advocate for the rights and well-being of children.

Over the years, we have seen significant life-saving transitions in our work. Key among them is the shifting our focus from addressing the needs of all children to narrowing our lens on the children, mothers and communities that are the most vulnerable, thus ensuring equitable access to essential social and development services for the least privileged. 

Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Our partnership with the government of The Islamic of The Gambia began 51 years ago when our first Cooperation Agreement was signed with the Government in May 1965, between Mr. Gordon Carter, the then UNICEF Representative covering the Gambia, and Alhaji A. B. N’jie, MBE, JP, MP, Minister of State for External Affairs. This agreement articulated the mutual thinking between the Government and UNICEF on how to successfully address the most concerning of children’s issues by ensuring that their rights are realized. Since then, the Gambia has registered tremendous gains for its children, many of which were supported by UNICEF.

Perhaps one of the most significant achievements for the country in promoting the rights of all children is its ratification and domestication of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of The Child, in 1990 and 2005 respectively. These actions have since created opportunities for an enabling environment for all children, especially in their access to health, education and protection services. 

The situation of Gambian children has improved considerably. Partnership works. With the support of UNICEF and other partners, malaria is being eliminated, the country is almost open defecation free, girls are equally entering primary school as boys, and immunization coverage is the best in West and Central Africa region. FGM/C and child marriage have recently been banned and children can be assured that violators will be prosecuted due to legislation that is now available.

Unfortunately, after 51 years of many successes, children still face depravations. There are many children still out of school, and many also suffer from various forms of violence and harmful practices which require a strengthened child protection system. Access to justice for children also needs attention, while we cannot ignore that there are still 1 in 4 Gambian children who are stunted.

As we mark this occasion, we are also transitioning to a new country programme of cooperation with the Islamic Republic of the Gambia 2017-2021. As we move forward to address these challenges together, within the context of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the UNDAF, we anticipate:

1. Strengthened partnerships, partnerships that enable us work jointly with sister UN agencies, but also those that bring us closer to the communities that we serve.

2. Better value for money programming – programming that achieves more with less

3. Going to the last child wherever he or she might be, and regardless of whomever he or she might be.

That is what UNICEF will be doing, but what will you be doing to address the needs of Gambian children? Our UN Resident Coordinator spoke earlier about children being at the heart of the SDGs. I echo that clarion call to say that no one person or entity can address all of the needs of children. Creative, strategic and  innovative partnerships are required.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is in the spirit of excellent partnerships that I take this opportunity to recognize our implementing partners from the government and civil society, during the current country programme (2012 to 2016), thanking them for not only the partnership, but for the results achieved thereof. 

I thank you all for your partnership over the years and look forward to much stronger and broader collaboration during our next country programme, which begins in 2017. 

Thank you all for your attention.

Enjoy the rest of the evening. 

 

 
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