Why invest in children in Senegal? Why UNICEF?

Accelerating results for children in Senegal

Lalaina F. Andriamasinoro
UNICEF Senegal/2020/Pudlowski
23 December 2021

Senegal is witnessing a profound shift in national priorities and dynamics, driven by an increasing investment in new strategies that aim at lifting thousands of people out of poverty.

The government’s current vision for the country is unprecedented in its goals and scale.

The Plan for an Emerging Senegal 2035 aims for a dramatic expansion of individual capabilities and sustained human development progress. It aims to stimulate economic growth through job creation in order to diminish poverty in a sustainable way.

Owing to advocacy efforts from UNICEF and development partners, key issues affecting children were addressed in the national development plan, in many areas including social protection. The plan’s update – taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 impact – focuses on inclusive economic and social development.

Capitalising on this momentum

UNICEF can capitalise on this momentum and bring the uniqueness and compelling strength of the equity approach it follows to help the country understand and address the root causes of inequity so that all children, particularly those who suffer the worst deprivations in society, have access to education, health care, sanitation, clean water, protection and other services necessary for their survival, growth and development.

Making the difference

The UNICEF office in Senegal was established in 1958. Since then, it has been continuously working to build a system that safeguards and promotes the chances of a better future for all children in Senegal, promoting strategic thinking around important development issues and, whenever necessary, providing the basic ingredients to make it work.

The way in which UNICEF has been contributing to reduce child mortality provides a good example of the organization’s ability to balance upstream and downstream work to adequately respond to children’s needs.

To make a meaningful difference in children’s lives, it is important to be at the right place, at the right time. Our steady upstream work allows us to be strategically positioned to support the government in moments that can be decisive for the country to move forward and to take the right decisions.

The overall direction and strategy for our action falls within the United Nations Cooperation Framework, which is itself set in line with the priorities of the Government of Senegal.

Large-scale interventions

All children should be given an opportunity to fully develop their potential and participate meaningfully in the events and processes that shape their lives. For this reason we work to protect and promote all their rights; and, in some areas, the scale of our interventions has the potential to make a difference in the life of every single child.

This is the case for example for immunisation. In Senegal, UNICEF supplies all vaccines used by the national Programme of Immunisation. If we are able to reach the aspired universal coverage, we will be benefiting every child under five years old with an intervention that can be life-saving.

UNICEF also is leading the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, through the COVAX facility, and is responsible for ensuring that countries are ready and prepared to receive and deliver the vaccines. UNICEF is working with the government to strengthen and prepare supply chains within the country, training health workers, building trust in vaccines by engaging with communities, and addressing misinformation and other barriers.

Knowledge Leadership

Over the years, UNICEF has been conducting or supporting research, analyses and publications that have been pivotal to shed light on the situation of children of Senegal and advise decision-makers on the best strategies to achieve changes for children.

Partnerships, Leveraging and Convening Power

UNICEF has built the reputation of a credible partner. UNICEF is frequently called to solve issues and convene partners, particularly in situations in which mandates overlap and thus responsibilities are not clear. UNICEF continues to foster strategic partnerships with sister agencies, technical and financial partners, private sector, civil society organisations, and media to advance children’s rights in Senegal.

An extensive field presence

As an agency with an extensive field presence in Senegal, UNICEF works across sectors to optimize interventions in vulnerable and hard-to-reach areas, through its zonal office covering the southern and eastern part of the country. Social sectors under the UNICEF mandate, such as child protection, education, social protection, health, nutrition, water and sanitation sectors include strong subnational components, particularly in the context of UNICEF work on systems strengthening.

From a cross-cutting perspective, UNICEF focuses on community engagement and child and adolescent participation in local decision making, including through platforms such as the Child Friendly Territorial Collectivity Initiative. We also work on the broader enabling environment at the subnational level by focusing on such issues as local development planning and budgeting and local coordination.