Programmes 2006–2010: Overview

The UNICEF Programme in Turkey

UNICEF and the Government’s new Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) for 2006–2010 focuses on child protection, education and early childhood development, targeting areas with low human development indicators and low income families in general. The CPAP aims to:

  • close the gender gap further in primary education and to reduce drop–out rates;
  • continue progress made in reducing infant and under–five mortality rates;
  • establish and strengthen minimum standards of institutional care;
  • make institutions and individuals accountable for violations of children’s rights;
  • foster a more protective environment for Turkey’s children
  • and encourage the adoption of policies, laws and monitoring systems for the better development and protection of children.

UNICEF Projects in Turkey

The Best Start in Life

The best way to ensure healthy growth and development is to exclusively breastfeed a child during the first six months. However, rates of exclusive breastfeeding are very low in Turkey as with most of Europe and the rest of the world in general. UNICEF is working closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and local NGOs to establish baby–friendly hospitals and mother support groups in order to increase exclusive breast–feeding rates.

Combating Iodine Deficiency Disorders

Poor soil quality over much of Turkey means that much of the country’s fruit, vegetable, meat and dairy produce tends to be low in certain trace elements such as iodine. Even a slight deficiency of this vital nutrient can lead to poor hormone production that affects the development and function of most organs, particularly the brain. Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) are the world’s leading cause of preventable mental retardation. Universal salt iodisation is accepted as the best means to combat iodine deficiency using inexpensive plant and equipment to infuse table salt with the element. UNICEF has been working closely with the MOH, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and commercial salt producers to ensure that most Turkish households are now using clearly labelled iodised salt as a matter of course. The promotion of iodised salt usage in Turkey took a huge leap forward in 2005 when the direct sale of non–iodised salt to consumers was banned.


Turkey has developed a considerable tradition of comprehensive immunisation campaigns since UNICEF launched the ‘child survival and development revolution’ here in the mid–80s. At the time, 29,000 children were dying of vaccine–preventable diseases every year. The first major national immunisation campaign involving government ministries, health workers, schools and numerous volunteers set a worldwide standard after achieving an 84% coverage rate straight away. Turkey achieved polio free certification in 2002 and UNICEF is now working closely with the MOH and other partners for the elimination of measles by 2010.

Girls’ Education

UNICEF is leading a drive to achieve gender parity in primary school enrolment by mobilising families, school personnel and administrative authorities under the banner of Haydi Kızlar Okula! (Lit: Let’s go to School, Girls!). Haydi Kızlar Okula! succeeded in reducing the number of out–of–school girls by approximately 35 per cent between 2003 and 2006. However, the gender gap did not close as favourably as expected in the early stages of the campaign between 2003 and 2005 — the result of a mixed blessing whereby the campaign also fostered a significant increase in boys’ enrolment. The gender gap has been closing progressively since then but there is still some way to go. Interestingly, the campaign has also been successful in bringing broader public attention to the issue of gender discrimination in general — thanks to consistent media interest in the issue.

Child–friendly Schools

Child–friendly Schools (CFS) criteria define a school that has good facilities, a child–sensitive and non–gender–biased curriculum and zero tolerance of violence. Child–friendly schools encourage the involvement of children, parents and the wider community in the running of their local school. The twin objective of the CFS system is to improve the quality of basic education by providing children with a healthier, happier environment to learn and develop thereby increasing enrolment rates, reducing drop–out rates and meeting international teaching standards. UNICEF and the Ministry of National Education (MONE) are working to ensure that child–friendly schools criteria will soon be adopted and practiced in at least 30 per cent of primary schools in urban areas.

Early Childhood Development

Children who are stimulated to learn and socialise at an early age have better chances of succeeding later in life since 80 per cent of brain development is complete by the age of six. For example, children who have attended pre–school enjoy more opportunities to develop to their fullest potential when they enter the formal education system. UNICEF is working to increase the number of children who have access to pre–school by leading a social mobilisation campaign to encourage good parenting practices, including better inter–familial communication, positive methods of discipline, timely registration of births and good primary health care.

Protection of Children and Adolescents

Turkey’s population of some 13 million adolescents represents the country’s largest demographic group. The next generation of adolescents, currently under ten years of age, is only fractionally smaller. Since the national birth rate is decreasing only very slightly, Turkey’s child and adolescent population will remain significantly larger than any other age group until the target year for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. The well being of this large section of the population is crucial not only to the realisation of their individual potential but also to the country’s immediate and future development agenda. UNICEF works with law enforcement officials, the judiciary and social services to strengthen systems that protect children from abuse and exploitation and promote their survival, health and well being — particularly children who are living outside of parental care and also those who are most at risk of coming into contact with the law. UNICEF is also working to create opportunities for Turkey’s broader population of adolescents to learn life–skills, to improve communication within their families, to help protect them from HIV/AIDS and to encourage them to lead healthy and productive lives.

Advocacy and Social Policy

UNICEF works with partners at national and provincial levels to raise awareness of children’s rights, to strengthen institutional capacities for better monitoring of children’s rights violations and to ultimately ensure that policy reforms favouring Turkey’s children become a reality. An adapted version of the UN DevInfo system, DevInfoTürk, has been developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) with funding from the EU and technical support from UNICEF. The system will be rolled out on a national basis by 2008. DevInfoTürk will monitor 25 Quality of Life Indicators (25QLI) designed to take account of the MDGs and EU social inclusion indicators. As such, the 25QLI will contribute accurate data on the state of Turkey’s children and inform future policy–making and planning for the development of women, children and their families throughout the country’s 81 provinces.


UNICEF Turkey has core funding of $1 million a year and seeks to raise an additional $5 million annually to fund its programmes. UNICEF actually exceeded this target in 2006. The Turkish National Committee for UNICEF raised in the region of $1 million in 2005.

UNICEF programme activities expenditure, 2006–2010

Quality Education: $6.0 million; Early Childhood Care and Learning: $5.8 million; Adolescent and Child Protection: $12.6 million; Advocacy, Information and Social Policy: $5.5 million; Cross–sectoral: $0.8 million

 Quality Education

 Early Childhood Care and Learning

 Adolescent and Child Protection

 Advocacy, Information and Social Policy


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