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Federal Government of Nigeria and UNICEF assess progress after three years of Country Programme

Abuja, 26 October - During the last two days, the Federal Government of Nigeria and UNICEF held the Mid-Term Review of the Country Programme of Cooperation for Nigerian Children and Women which covers the six-year period from 2002 to 2007.

This meeting was the final phase of a consultative and participatory process that has involved key partners, including government, community representatives, civil society, donors and UN agencies. It resulted in a fair assessment of the progress made, the constraints met and the challenges ahead. The review also recommended some changes to improve the programme in response to the present issues affecting children in Nigeria.

The review showed that progress was made in a number of areas:

  • The passage of the Trafficking Act and the Child Rights act in 2003 is a significant step forward to guarantee a legal protective environment to all Nigerian children.
  • Nigeria can be considered as Africa’s success story on salt iodisation as a strategy for the elimination of iodine deficiency, leading to Universal Salt Iodisation certification by 2007.
  • The battle against polio is now on track and the last National Immunisation Days reached an increased number of children in the country. The interruption of the wild polio virus transmission can now be targeted in 2005. Traditional and religious leaders played a key role in educating and sensitizing the communities on polio immunisation.
  • In schools, the completion rate has clearly improved over the last four years, reaching 83.4% in 2001. In the 153 primary schools targeted by UNICEF Child-Friendly Schools Initiative, the enrolment rate increased significantly.

The review, however, expressed concern about the decline of the health status of children, showed by an increased under-five mortality rate from 168/1000 live births in 1999  to 217/1000 live births in 2003  and an equally increased infant mortality rate. The poor quality of basic social services accounts for a low coverage of key interventions such as immunization, malaria control or Acute Respiratory Illnesses prevention and treatment. 

In the field of education, recent data of the Ministry of Education/UNESCO show that in 2002 about 30% of the 6-to-11 year old children are not attending primary school.

HIV-Aids also remains a major problem with 2003 prevalence rate of 5%; an increasing number of children are being orphaned, having lost their parents to AIDS.

Child’s trafficking is still a sad reality in Nigeria and many children are exploited for labour.

Three important recommendations are emerging from the Review:

  1. To achieve a better focus of the activities of the Programme of Cooperation so that resources will not be spread too thinly, but will rather be concentrated in the selected Local Government Areas and will have a more effective impact on the lives of children and women. A total number of 111 LGAs – three LGAs in each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory – will benefit from the programme intervention. The programme will increase service delivery and capacity building at local level (state/LGA/communities) as well as social mobilization and communication for behaviour change. The majority of regular resources will be devoted to LGA/communities while additional resources, coming from donors, will be used to build on and expand on these interventions.
  2. To foster improved data and information collection, analysis and use.
  3. To foster more and more effective partnerships that promotes and protects the rights of children, mobilise additional resources and deliver faster, more efficient basic services.

The main structure of the Programme remains unchanged. There are four major programmes: Survival and Early Child Care, Integrated Growth and Development, Protection and Participation, Planning and Communication. The Community Development Programme is now fully integrated in these four programmes and some adjustments have been also adopted in the structure of each programme.

For each programme, the review has determined a very precise and measurable set of objectives which will be assessed annually and at the end of the Country Programme in 2007.

This review afforded the Nigeria/UNICEF Country programme of Cooperation the opportunity to adjust its programme of intervention in order to further improve the situation of women and children in the country.

For more information, contact:

  • Geoffrey Njoku, communication officer, UNICEF,
    Tel: 0803 52 50 288; Email:



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