Progress made for children in Peru, but equity gap remains visible, says UNICEF chief
LIMA, Peru, 25 April 2014.- UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake travelled to Peru this week where he met with children, community members, government officials and civil society partners to see how education, health and social protection programmes are bridging the equity gap between indigenous and non-indigenous children.
On the three-day mission Mr. Lake visited indigenous communities in Ucayali, a region where reading standards amongst children are around half of the national average. He was able to see how Child Friendly Schools and Intercultural Bilingual Education programmes are contributing to improved learning outcomes and transforming the lives of indigenous children.
‘‘Children in indigenous communities are far too often left behind. I have seen great work being done here to help address inequities and poverty amongst Amazonian children. These are effective initiatives and ones we hope will be scaled up to give even more children the protection and support that they need to succeed,’’ Mr. Lake said.
In his meetings with the President of the Republic, Ollanta Humala Tasso and First Lady, Nadine Heredia, along with the Foreign Minister and Social Cabinet Ministers, Mr. Lake commended the results that the country has already achieved for children, while reinforcing the need to reach Peru's most vulnerable and marginalized children. They discussed the Peruvian Government’s integrated approach to early childhood development that includes a focus on preventing violence against children and the country's impressive progress in reducing stunting amongst its poorest children from 56 per cent to 44 per cent in five years (2006-2011).
Mr. Lake also saw how a UNICEF-supported community surveillance programme in Cusco, which brings together local authorities, health services and the community working, is protecting and caring for children from the minute they are born, and before.
“Nurturing the early years of life enables children to grow into healthy, strong individuals. This investment in children at the earliest possible stage is a powerful tool, and is both a dividend and a driver of Peru's economic growth,” Mr. Lake said.
The National Congress in Lima presented Mr. Lake with a Congressional Award in recognition of UNICEF’s work in promoting the rights of children and women in Peru and a strong partnership and presence there that spans 67 years.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/peru.