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Message from the representative

UNICEF Malawi/2016
© UNICEF Malawi/2016
Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Representative to Malawi.

I have worked for UNICEF for more than a decade, ensuring that we uphold children’s rights regardless of where they are, the city or place they were born in. I have worked in several countries, some as peaceful as Malawi, others in conflict with great risks to children’s rights. I am delighted to be part of the UNICEF Malawi team, which is delivering results for children through our programmes in child protection, education, health, HIV/Aids, water, sanitation and hygiene.

As UNICEF, we cannot achieve the best results for children on our own. I believe that partnerships with the Government of Malawi and other stakeholders are key to ensuring that the rights of all Malawi’s children are realized. Children’s issues are everyone’s issues and should unite all sections of society. Investing in children is also investing in Malawi’s future.

We will continue to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and expand their opportunities, so they can reach their full potential.

We know that Malawi is a youthful nation, given its high percentage of children and young people. There has been great progress achieved for children in recent years, especially in infant and under-5 mortality rates. Today, fewer children are being born with HIV. It is important for us to understand how this progress was achieved, and how these gains can be consolidated.

There are also areas where progress has been slow, in particular on issues that relate to social norms, including violence against children and early marriages. This requires us to review and analyse what has been done so far, make adjustments and step up our efforts.

For Malawi to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a comprehensive approach to children’s rights. In 2016, around 63 percent of Malawi’s children were deprived of one or more of their basic needs, including access to education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation. We can and must reduce these numbers.

Malawi’s children are also impacted by floods, erratic rains and drought. In 2016, around 6.5 million Malawians were facing hunger, the majority of them children. This puts children at risk of malnutrition, while their families are forced to skip meals and sell off assets.

UNICEF is supporting the Government of Malawi to respond to the emergency nutrition situation in children under five, through early identification and treatment of cases of severe acute malnutrition, and through procurement of therapeutic food and lifesaving commodities. In the longer term, I believe that we can help Malawi’s people build resilience, to ensure they can absorb the shocks that come with these disasters.

While addressing those immediate challenges, we also have to continue addressing poor sanitation and hygiene, child and maternal health, and the impact of HIV and AIDS.

Sustainable change for children requires ownership. In the short term, UNICEF will focus on proven interventions with high impact, and on issues that threaten what has already been achieved. In the longer term, our strategy is to build alliances to tackle social norms, and to promote evidence based policies such as the expansion of social cash transfers.

As UNICEF Representative for Malawi, I will use all my energy to work with colleagues and partners to improve the situation of children. I hope we can continue to achieve tangible results for every child in this country. 



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