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Overview of UNICEF partnership with Romania

@UNICEF Romania/ Cristian Kostyak/Looking Up: even as governments change in Romania, children hope for a better tomorrow
© UNICEF Romania/ Cristian Kostyak/Looking Up: even as governments change in Romania, children hope for a better tomorrow

UNICEF opened an office in Romania in 1991 to help respond to the extremely difficult situation of children at the time. Since then, indicators of child well-being have improved considerably, widespread reforms have taken place, and standards are increasingly modelled on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and EU criteria. However, there are still many challenges confronting children which UNICEF works to address with the Government and other partners with the ultimate aim of fully realizing child rights in Romania.

The strategic intent of UNICEF’s cooperation and partnership with Romania is to reduce disparities and promote social inclusion in the country. Particular attention is paid to children in poverty and the Roma minority. Supporting the development of policies and strategies for children and the strengthening of systems in education, health and social protection along with promoting systems to track progress on child rights, are key goals.
The programme aims to accelerate the progressive realization of child rights by improving the situation of excluded children who live in marginalized communities where poverty is pervasive, school attendance is precarious, and families are at a higher risk of dysfunction. The goal is to strengthen and create partnerships for social inclusion and governance for children at both sub-national and national levels. Thus, there is an emphasis on engaging local authorities in alternative, cost-effective and innovative initiatives, as they now have greater financial and management responsibilities in the decentralization process, but command limited resources and capacities. Work on promoting policies and norms for children at the national level is very much informed by our work at the local level. 

Two important advances have recently been made on promoting equity for children in deprived communities. First, UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Education has promoted a drive for school attendance. One year after the launch of the School Attendance Campaign in 2010, it was found that 60 per cent of the children at risk of dropout remained in school. This success led to an expansion of the initiative to cover 100 additional high drop-out communities in the school year 2011-2012, with the aim of eventually reducing by a substantial number the estimated 400,000 children who do not attend school regularly.

In a similar vein, UNICEF is working to shift the emphasis from “protection” – child care under the state system - to one of “prevention” which is  more affordable and in line with a rights-based approach.  Accordingly, the Community Based Services (CBS) project, carried out in almost 100 rural communities in partnership with local authorities, is demonstrating effective results of the preventive approach and are mobilising a wide range of stakeholders. Already in its first year of implementation in 2011, it showed how simple actions have positive impact on children, rights fulfilment is feasible and achievable and cost-efficiency is ensured.

UNICEF is active at the policy level in order to expand and sustain these two equity initiatives nationwide.

UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health and other partners to expand the number of certified Baby Friendly Hospitals which now cover 40 per cent of annual births, up from zero in 2009. Progress has also been made towards the adoption of a law on the marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Early childhood development is an important part of UNICEF’s programme with emphasis on better parenting and early learning standards. In this context, initiatives are on-going at central and local levels to strengthen programmes which improve the prospects of pre-schoolers reaching their potential.   

UNICEF is also involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is a partner in programmes to address the most at risk adolescents. Research on treatment and injecting drug use has led to a better definition of risk groups and advocacy for related action.

Work is also progressing on the establishment of a Child Rights Monitoring system which is expected to take more substantive shape in 2012 when a country report to the CRC Committee is due to be submitted.

In resource mobilisation, UNICEF raised $7.4 million locally between 2007 and 2011, a significant achievement given the economic difficulties for both corporate and individual donors since the financial and economic crisis began to bite in 2008.
The most important collaborative partnerships for child rights in which the UNICEF CO is currently involved are those with central government ministries and local authorities at both country and communal levels.

UNICEF always works with partners. The main partner is the central government, especially the Ministries of Labour, Family and Social Protection; the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport; and the Ministry of Health.  Forming and strengthening partnerships at the local level are ever more important in achieving results for children given the decentralization of budgets and responsibilities to the counties and municipal sectors in Bucharest. Other key strategic partners are NGOs, especially when they form alliances around children’s issues such as the Federation of NGOs for Child Protection, which represents about 100 smaller organisations. Another is the coalition of NGOs targeting deinstitutionalization and promoting preventive approaches to child protection and the coalition of NGOs and international institutions for focusing on improving the  social inclusion of Roma. Meanwhile, strengthening partnerships with the private sector is key to promoting many initiatives and to boosting resource mobilization so that progress towards results for boys and girls can be maintained.      



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