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Ugandan Government launches Situation Analysis of Children, UNICEF calls for smarter investments

By Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi
The Government of Uganda has launched the Situation Analysis of Children report with UNICEF calling for smarter and more targeted investments to ensure that all children have a fair chance in life.

“Spending more money alone will not achieve development goals. Investments must also systematically target disadvantaged children and programmes that effectively close equity gaps,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative to Uganda during the launch.

The call by Girma is timely as it coincided with the Third International Conference on Finance for Development which took place in Addis Ababa Ethiopia where world leaders converged to discuss the financing of the Post 2015-Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are expected to be adopted in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly.

Launching the report, the Prime Minister. Rt. Hon Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda said the Ugandan Government remains committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure that all children realise their full potential.

In a speech read by State Minister of Labour Hon. Kamanda Bataringaya, the Prime Minister added that through the Situation Analysis of Children report, government has analysed the policy framework associated with the four rights of survival, education and development, participation and protection. Adding that government with support from partners will endeavour to implement policy recommendations proposed in the report.

The Situation Analysis Report notes significant progress made to improve the well-being of children since Uganda ratified the UNCRC in November 1990.  The country has put in place some forward looking laws, policies and programmes to ensure the rights of children. The findings also show that a lot needs to be done.

In regard to under five mortality rate, the current progress of 90 deaths per 1,000 live births is not sufficient to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal target of 56 per 1,000 live births.

Girma said that the launch of the report comes at a critical time in global development given that the deadline for the UN MDGs is here and there are many on-going stock taking efforts in what the goals have achieved.

“Many agree that the MDGs have rallied support and resources to improve human development, including the well-being of children,” she told hundreds at the launch attended by Development Partners, Government Officials, Civil Society representatives, Members of Parliament and UN System officials.

he Situation Analysis report indicates that progress in reducing neonatal and maternal mortality rates has been slower and Uganda is unlikely to achieve the MGD target. The maternal mortality target by 2015 is 131 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The report further points out that one in three children continues to suffer from chronic malnutrition while very few children have access to early childhood development services.

UNICEF also called for investing in sectors that have significant proven returns for children and society such as nutrition and early childhood development.

Looking at access to education, the report notes that the implementation of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) policy has resulted into increased equitable access to education from over 2.5 million in 1997 to 8.5 million children in 2013.

Minister Kamanda said as the world is moving towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the government will strengthen efforts in the area of access to pre-primary education and quality of primary education. He also explained that protecting Uganda’s children from violence, exploitation and abuse is high on the government’s agenda since violence affects children both as witnesses and as victims.

To close the equity gap, UNICEF also called for the prioritisation of investments in education, health and protection of adolescent girls and to promote their active and meaningful participation in decisions affecting their lives.

The launch, which was live broadcast on Uganda’s national broadcaster Uganda Broadcasting Corporation TV and privately owned Nation TV.

The situation of children was debated by key stakeholders; James Kaboggoza, Assistant Commissioner for Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Stella Ayo-Odongo Executive Director Uganda Child Rights NGO Network, Gideon Badagawa Executive Director Private Sector Foundation, Uganda, Andrew Mwenda, CEO Independent Magazine and Dr. Jesica Nsungwa, Assistant Commissioner Child Health Services. All the panellists agreed on the need to invest in Ugandan children to accelerate the realisation of the rights of all children in the country.

As Uganda enters the development landscape beyond 2015, government and its partners look forward to building a more prosperous and better world for children.
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