Children in Uttar Pradesh

Life can be uncertain and, in many cases, cut short for children in UP. Each year, about 380,000 of the state’s children die before the age of five years, falling victim to malnutrition, diarrhoea etc.

Children from the Meena Manch arrive with placards for a play prior to the arrival of Norwegian Prime Minister Ms Erna Solberg in a Government Primary and Middle School at Nithora, Uttar Pradesh.

The challenge

With a population of more than 200 million people, Uttar Pradesh (UP) is India’s most populous state, roughly equal in size to Brazil. It is best recognized for the landmark monument, Taj Mahal, and the historic Hindu city of Varanasi. A vibrant industrial and agricultural region, UP has struggled with one of the highest infant and child mortality rates in India. One in every two children in Uttar Pradesh is stunted.

While the state has made significant gains on several key indicators over the past decade, according to the 2011 census, the child sex ratio has deteriorated, and the number of children forced into work has increased. UP also has the largest population of socially excluded communities – scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other so-called "backward castes" – and several indicators of health, nutrition and education are amongst the worst in India.              

Advancing children’s rights and well-being

Although one-third of the state’s population lives below the poverty line and the state has the highest number of children who leave school to work, education programmes introduced by UNICEF and its partners are ensuring more children stay out of labour.

Uttar Pradesh, home to 85.3 million children under 18 years of age, is poised on the brink of change (Census 2011).

To ensure that children in Uttar Pradesh survive and thrive, UNICEF supports the state government in the crucial programming areas of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, health, education and child protection.

Kiran Devi, an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) examines the newborn child as part of Home Based New Born Care inside a hamlet in Shrawasti, Uttar Pradesh.
Kiran Devi, an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) examines the newborn child as part of Home Based New Born Care inside a hamlet in Shrawasti, Uttar Pradesh.

In a state where approximately 700 children under 5 years of age die each day, strengthening of facility and home based new born care programmes, improving demand and reach of routine immunization and prevention and management of childhood illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia are a priority for UNICEF. 

UNICEF also works with the State Government for improving quality of care in Labour rooms to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths.

UNICEF is working closely with the Government of UP to bring in positive change, including strengthening the state’s vast health care network. There is a large network of groups and individuals to partner with in this aim, such as civil society and faith-based organizations, legislators, academicians and media houses. UNICEF in UP has also played a crucial role in one of the world’s largest public health campaigns, mobilizing thousands of people to help eradicate polio from the state.

UNICEF provides technical support for maternal and child nutrition services under the Government’s Poshan Abhiyan. UNICEF also supports delivery of quality care at Government’s nutrition rehabilitation centers (NRCs), prevention and treatment of anemia, training of health workers to identify and treat common childhood diseases, promoting breastfeeding and infant young child feeding and strengthening of early childhood care centers.

UNICEF supports the Swachh Bharat Mission, hygiene and sanitation programmes, WASH in schools and health facilities in Uttar Pradesh. We are also supporting the State Government for improving water safety and for the rollout of the drinking water mission Jal Shakti Abhiyan.

UNICEF supports strengthening of child friendly schools with adequate infrastructure, services and learning opportunities. In addition, we support transition of students particularly girls from Grade 8 while also working for adolescent well-being through school and non-school strategies.

Strengthening of child protection systems for providing quality care and protection services through state police and judicial systems, as well as ending child labour and child marriages in the state is a core commitment for UNICEF.

UNICEF provides technical support to the Government for strengthening child-focussed Disaster Risk Governance and improving resilience of the most vulnerable groups.  

UNICEF also provides technical assistance to the government for social protection schemes related to children through policy and advocacy support, evidence generation, capacity development, monitoring and evaluation.