Social policy and local governance
Finding lasting, local solutions for governance challenges.
Local governments play a key role providing essential services to children. Whether in urban or rural settings, they help connect girls and boys to nutritious food, safe water, quality education, sanitation, and other services that reduce the burden of poverty.
Yet, in many countries, local governments are not fully equipped to meet children’s needs. Lack of information and resources can prevent them from reaching every child – especially those vulnerable to discrimination and exclusion – with education, health care and other forms of social protection.
Without data on children’s well-being, local governments may struggle to understand who’s being left behind and why. Insufficient resources can also hinder their efforts to plan, budget for and monitor social services. And since governments often rely on partners to help improve the quality and reach of services, coordination may create additional challenges that cut children off from care.
Through it all, children and adolescents have little opportunity to voice their needs, influence decisions and hold leaders to account.
UNICEF works with local governments and communities in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions for governance challenges. We help policymakers meet children’s needs by:
- Generating geographically disaggregated data that show how children in various communities are faring in health, education and other areas.
- Ensuring local government budgets are equitable and allocating funds to benefit the children most in need.
- Empowering children and their communities to participate in decision-making processes and evaluate local services.
- Enhancing service delivery and coordination by partnering with the private sector and civil society.
In Senegal, UNICEF supported the development of budgets in 52 municipalities that include activities on birth registration, educational infrastructure, youth empowerment and employability, civic engagement, resource mobilization, and climate change.
In Albania, UNICEF supported the development of a financing formula to govern the transfer of funds from the central social-protection budget to municipalities to resource the Social Fund. More than two hundred municipal officials were equipped with the skills and necessary tools to develop, budget, and implement social care plans targeting poor and vulnerable families and children. As a result, thirty percent of the municipalities in the country have approved social care plans with budgets.
In Bhutan, UNICEF partnered with the National Statistical Bureau and the Department of Local Governance to develop a new database system for improving data collection, coherence, and consistency at the local level. The system supports local-level planning, monitoring, and decision-making. UNICEF also supported an assessment of child-friendly local governance in three districts to improve understanding of the needs and challenges faced by local governments in fulfilling commitments.
In Sri Lanka, the Municipal Council of Batticaloa held a budget consultation with children, where they provided suggestions for building recreational spaces, greening the city, improving road safety, and expanding library and reading spaces. The consultations led to the creation of an expenditure category in the municipal budget in 2020 with a dedicated allocation of 2 billion Sri Lankan Rupees in 2021, which is a twofold increase from the allocation made in 2020.
UNICEF and local government in Bayankhongor city set an ambitious goal to transform Bayankhongor into the first smog-free city in Mongolia by 2022. Smog-Free Bayankhongor Action Plan was developed and approved by the local parliament aiming to reduce air pollution and improve health outcomes. In 200 vulnerable households, new insulation and heating techniques for homes were installed. The local government committed its own budget to support another 100 households.