UNICEF in Mali’s 4 Key Results for Children
UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Office has identified eight Key Results for Children (KRC) that will accelerate progress towards the realization of the rights of the child in the region. From these, UNICEF has selected four priority KRCs for Mali: increasing coverage of immunization, the prevention of malnutrition, improving learning outcomes, and prevention of child marriage.
Almost one third of the children who die before reaching their fifth birthday could be saved by vaccination. UNICEF works with partners to vaccinate children against major vaccine-preventable diseases – pertussis, childhood tuberculosis, tetanus, polio, measles and diphtheria, hepatitis B, diarrhoea, pneumonia, yellow fever, meningitis and haemophilus influenzae B.
Under the Immunization Plus Key Result for Children, UNICEF in Mali is targeting 11 districts that have the highest numbers of unvaccinated children. In these districts and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, WHO, Gavi, Canada, USAID and other partners, a wide range of proven strategies are being leveraged to reach every child.
New and innovative approaches, such as digital registers of children vaccinated, monitoring of stocks of vaccines through RapidPro, and the creation of a WhatsApp network for women leaders, are being leveraged to achieve results. Additional vaccination sessions at places where people gather – such as markets, schools, places of worship and major bus stations – are also organized.
Communication and social mobilization during vaccination campaigns are being strengthened to raise awareness and create demand for vaccination at the community level, and advocacy work continues to ensure improved coordination and efficiency of vaccination systems at national, regional and community levels.
UNICEF also continues to support improvements to the cold chain, which is required to keep the vaccines at a constant temperature, by installing cold rooms and solar-powered refrigerators, with the goal of installing nearly 2,000 solar-powered refrigerators in the country by 2021.
Prevention of malnutrition
There are several proven, low-cost, highly effective interventions that can reduce stunting and other forms of undernutrition. These include ensuring good nutrition during pregnancy, promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and the introduction of frequent and diverse complementary foods in addition to breastmilk after six months, preventing and treating micro-nutrient deficiencies, and promoting hygiene and access to safe drinking water.
UNICEF’s approach to tackling the problem of malnutrition in Mali focuses on the first 1,000 days, also known as the “window of opportunity”, and focuses on providing pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children from birth to 23 months with specific nutrition support. A holistic approach, which also takes into account hygiene, cognitive stimulation and child protection needs, is used in order to ensure optimal health, growth and cognitive development of the youngest children.
Community nutrition support groups led by role model mothers and community leaders are leveraged to build community support for the provision of nurturing care to children. These support groups have proven very effective in Yorosso in the Sikasso region, where both chronic and severe acute malnutrition were halved.
UNICEF in Mali is also working with our partners to establish multi-micronutrient fortification within the home for children from 6 to 23 months old.
Improving learning outcomes
Ensuring quality education for every child lays the foundation for the social and economic development of a country. With a vision of lifelong learning that starts with the youngest children, UNICEF supports the Government of Mali in its expansion of early learning programmes, improved access to quality, inclusive primary and lower secondary education for school-aged children, and life skills for adolescents as they prepare to enter the work force.
To specifically improve children’s learning outcomes and achieve this key result for children, a holistic approach has been adopted by UNICEF and partners to:
- distribute learning and teaching material, for early learning, primary & lower secondary (formal and informal);
- improve learning skills of teachers through training and the establishment of peer-to-peer training among teachers of the same school, including using innovations and new technology for a self-learning approach;
- train School Management Committees to improve schools’ environment and retention rate;
- support the establishment of national learning evaluation;
- support the national curricula and policy reform, and data collection.
UNICEF in Mali’s education section works with all sectors to improve learning outcomes for children. This includes improving school environments by ensuring water, handwashing facilities and separate toilets for girls and boys in schools; ensuring nutritional needs for children are being met in order to promote cognitive development and school performance; and ensuring specific mechanisms are put in place to protect girls and ensure they can complete their education.
Child marriage affects one in two girls in Mali. Child marriage threatens girls' education, health, emotional well-being, and the future health and education levels of their children.
To put an end to this harmful practice and support the potential of girls to fully contribute to their families and communities, UNICEF works with the Government of Mali and partners to galvanize political will, develop policies and strategies, provide psychosocial and other care to girls affected by child marriage and mobilize communities to stop child marriage. A specific focus is put on involving adolescent girls and sons-in-law as agents of change, while influential community members such as community leaders and religious leaders are leveraged to create positive social change and community development.
In recognition of the role education has to play in fulfilling the potential of girls, UNICEF and partners specifically support girls to enrol and stay in school, especially during the transition from primary to secondary school.