UNICEF Regional Director visits Zambia (19-20 November 2018)

A packed schedule included the Sanitation Summit, Parliament and a refurbished health centre.

John James
The UNICEF Regional Director (ESAR) with young people at the National Assembly for World Children's Day
UNICEF/Zambia/2018/Siakachoma
20 December 2018

It was a busy and jam-packed 36 hours for UNICEF's Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Director, Ms. Leila Pakkala, when she came to Zambia on 19-20 November 2018. First on the agenda was the country's Sanitation Summit. She also joined parliamentarians and young people celebrating World Children's Day. There was even time to visit a health centre in George Compound with the Minister of Health to see the amazing work going on with European Union-funding under the Millennium Development Goal initiative. We put together some of the photo highlights of the trip.

UNICEF's Regional Director visits stands at Zambia's Sanitation Summit with the Minister for Water, Sanitation and Environmental Protection.
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UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Ms. Leila Pakkala, speaking in Zambia.
UNICEF/Zambia/2018/Mulikita

"Good sanitation does not just mean staying healthy and disease free, but also improved early learning, better brain development, and reduced stunting"

Speaking at the opening of the Sanitation Summit, Ms. Pakkala said that "unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene practices can be a matter of life and death. And of dignity." The Summit's goal was to enhance political engagement, raise awareness and boost resources going into this vital sector.

In Zambia, the 2017 Joint Monitoring Programme report indicated that sanitation coverage was at 27 per cent, nationally. Rural areas are particularly poorly covered – sanitation coverage there is at 19 per cent, while the open defecation rate in rural areas is 15 per cent (25 per cent nationally).

UNICEF Regional Director Ms. Leila Pakkala speaking at an event for World Children's Day at the National Assembly of Zambia, 19 November 2018.
UNICEF/Zambia/2018/Siakachoma
UNICEF Regional Director, Ms. Leila Pakkala, speaking at an event for World Children's Day at the National Assembly of Zambia, 19 November 2018.
UNICEF Regional Director, Ms. Leila Pakala, with adolescents taking a selfie
UNICEF Zambia/2018/James
The UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Ms. Leila Pakkala, celebrated World Children's Day, at an event at the National Assembly of Zambia on 19 November 2018.

World Children's Day is a day for and by children. As part of events in Zambia, around 60 children and young people organised a 'takeover' at the National Assembly, debating with MPs from the Parliamentary Caucus on Children in the morning, and holding a more formal commemoration in the afternoon, which saw the participation of the Regional Director. 

Two key messages came out of the presentations by the children. First, that they are keen to be involved in protecting the environment and addressing climate change. Second, that one of their major concerns is for children to have access to the education services that will equip them with the skills they need to obtain employment later in life.

The Zambian Minister of Health and the UNICEF Regional Director tour a health facility
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The Minister of Health of Zambia, Dr Chitalu Chilufya, and the UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Ms. Leila Pakkala, tour George Health Centre in Lusaka Province.
UNICEF Regional Director and Zambian Minister of Health in a health centre
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The UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Ms. Leila Pakkala, and the Minister of Health of Zambia, Dr Chitalu Chilufya (right) tour the George Health Centre in Lusaka Province, 20 November 2018.

The Regional Director participated in a high-level visit to an MDGi programme site, accompanied by the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, and the Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Zambia and COMESA, Mr. Alessandro Mariani, to observe progress made under the MDGi programme.

UNICEF Regional Director shakes hands with the Vice President of Zambia
UNICEF/Zambia/2018/Skinner

One of the highlights of the visit was to have the honour to meet with the Vice President of Zambia, Ms. Inonge Wina. The Regional Director and the Vice President discussed a number of key issues, including child poverty and vulnerability, ending child marriage, reducing stunting and child and infant mortality, and bolstering access to quality education and skills.

Finally, the visit ended with a meeting with the staff of UNICEF Zambia, and a family photo.

Seated UNICEF staff listen to Regional Director
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UNICEF Zambia staff exchange with the Regional Director, Ms. Leila Pakkala.
UNICEF Zambia staff photo
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UNICEF Zambia staff photo with the Regional Director, 20 November 2018.