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Myanmar, Republic of the Union of

UN Executive Boards size up opportunities and challenges in Myanmar

© UNICEF Myanmar/2013
Ms. Kadra Ahmed Hassan with Pa O ethnic children at Nang Tang Rual Health Centre, Nang Tang village, Kalaw township, during the joint UN Executive Board visit to Shan state

The Executive Boards of six United Nations agencies had an up-close look at the changes underway in Myanmar.

TAUNGGYI, Myanmar, 18 June 2013—Myanmar’s rapid transition has not escaped the attention of the Executive Boards of the United Nations agencies working in in country, namely UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, WFP, UN Women and UNOPS. In an effort to engage the country’s government and people, the Boards of the six agencies chose Myanmar for their annual joint field visit this year.

Following meetings in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, a delegation comprised of representatives of Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Liberia, Malawi, and Mexico headed to southern Shan state to understand better the realities on the ground, as well as the role of the UN in assisting the Government and civil society in meeting challenges. The aim was also to identify opportunities and needs for UN agencies at a time when the UN’s joint engagement with Myanmar is evolving quickly.

Results for children

The visit to Shan, led by UNICEF and UNFPA, brought an opportunity for delegates to witness first-hand how the two agencies join forces to strengthen the Government-run health system and reduce HIV transmission, maternal and child morbidity and mortality, as well as malnutrition in poor and hard-to-reach areas in Taunggyi township. A visit to a school where UNICEF supports non-formal education helped delegates assess the impact of poverty on school attendance and children's learning achievements.

The nascent child protection system in Taunggyi was an opportunity to witness the cooperation between local NGOs and the Department of Social Welfare in protecting children against trafficking, abuse and exploitation.

“It is absolutely critical that UN agencies support policy reforms and strengthen government systems in the delivery of quality basic services to accelerate and sustain results for children, and address inequity in Myanmar,” said Ms. Kadra Ahmed Hassan, Counselor at the Representation of Djibouti to the UN and representing her country on the UNICEF Board.

The visiting delegates paid particular attention to the current and evolving financing mechanisms in support of health and education services, both from government resources and international development partners.

Guided by what makes sense

“The UN agencies have a critical role to play in enhancing coherence and effectiveness of donor funding in support of key national strategic priority areas such as social investment,” said Chris Stokes, Development Advisor at the Australian Mission to the UN.

The delegation concluded the visit with a meeting with the Chief Minister of Shan state, who briefed the delegates on the initial steps taken by the country towards greater decentralization and a people-centred approach to development, which would hopefully give greater voice to various ethnic groups in nation-building. UNICEF is building upon this opportunity to encourage Shan state to develop its social protection system, and is exploring ways to include representation of diverse ethnic groups in the upcoming review of its country programme.

The visit to Shan was deemed very useful by the delegates.

“From our respective Missions to the UN, we often discuss how to make the UN system more coherent and more efficient,” said Eduardo Porretti, Minister Counselor at the Mission of Argentina to the UN, and representing his country on the Boards of UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS. “It is vital that our recommendations be anchored into realities. UN reforms must be guided by what makes most sense for girls, boys, women and men in countries benefiting from UN assistance such as Myanmar.”



UNICEF Photography: UNICEF's Executive Board

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