Message from Koenraad Vanormelingen, Representative UNICEF Mozambique
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Mozambique has one of the most critical and sensitive mandates, which is that of caring for our children in a holistic way. So that they may have the love they deserve, the health and the development opportunities which we owe them, or even the voice to which they are entitled, we need to further unite and act with greater urgency, especially to achieve the vision presented through the fictional tales told by our main character, Vitória!
For us, Vitória symbolises the best in Mozambican communities. She represents solidarity, commitment and the desire to have a country that meets the needs of its citizens, be they children or adults, men or women, living in towns or in the countryside. Through her stories, we live the common problems which motivate us to give the best of ourselves, as people and as institutions. While we recognise that the solutions presented in the stories are rather simplistic and sometimes poetic, they make us understand that the main ingredients for improving the lives of our children are vision, initiative and the belief in positive change.
Modestly, in this annual report, which we also want to be aimed at our children, we provide information about the main results achieved by UNICEF in 2014, in close collaboration with the Government of Mozambique, civil society organisations, community and religious leaders, groups of children increasingly active in the media, and other partners and donors.
Despite the challenges, the results are varied and encouraging! Such as the appropriation and financing of the strategy of the Community Health Workers (APEs) by the Government, which includes plans to increase the number of APEs from the current figure of 2,799 to 7,600 by 2017. The inclusion of adolescents, from 10 to 14 years old, as a target group in the strategic plan for controlling HIV/AIDS, in connection with the national strategy for the elimination of child marriage and the promotion of girls’ education, is a positive result of our advocacy efforts. With the support of UNICEF, Mozambique has implemented the African Strategy of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, including launching a database and an electronic registration system. We believe that these advances have been driven by the Report on the Situation of Children in Mozambique (SITAN), complemented by analysis of the fiscal space of the social sectors that are critical for children, for improving the budget for children, and crucial in advocacy with the new Government, which took office in 2015.
The partnership between UNICEF, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Swedish International Development Agency, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID) and the governments of Holland and Ireland continues to have a strategic impact on the implementation and financing of Social Protection by the Government. The number of beneficiaries had not only increased by 20 per cent, but the levels of transfer practically doubled.
UNICEF took the leadership of the Education Common Fund in 2014, coordinating 10 donors and 168 million dollars, and supporting the development of the request for funds from the Global Partnership for Education. While this fund covers only 13 per cent of the total budget of the sector, it helps to lever key actions in the Government’s annual work plans. In the area of communication for development, UNICEF, in partnership with the Council of Religions of Mozambique (COREM), developed a Guide for Religious Leaders for promoting behavioural changes in the areas of health, education, and child protection, with references to passages in the Bible and the Koran.
It is certain that children in Mozambique are living better today than they did in the past. However, according to current indicators, we still have a long way to go to achieve more victories for our children. The lack of access to basic, good quality social services, as well as inadequate social norms and behaviour, are among the main challenges for improving the situation of children in the country. The high poverty indices, the low level of education of mothers, and the inequalities in distributing the results of economic progress are fundamental factors to be considered in investments in favour of children. Fortunately, the evolution of the situation allows us to remain hopeful because substantial, although slow, changes are taking place.
Once again we are renewing our commitment to do more and better for our children in Mozambique. In 2015, UNICEF intends to continue supporting the Government and other partners in increasing the number of APEs, particularly in the most remote areas of the country, as well as in essential interventions for the survival of new-born infants. Since malnutrition is one of the most serious problems that the country faces, the strategy of promoting infant nutritional practices and the nutritional rehabilitation programme will continue to be a priority, as well as the rural sanitation strategy. The management of quality in education and the development of teachers will be implemented in the framework of the educational reform strategy. There will also be continuity in supporting implementation of social protection strategies and of integrated management in the community of cases of vulnerable children. Likewise, HIV/AIDS prevention actions will take adolescents as their crucial focus. To contribute towards achieving the priorities mentioned above, actions will also be implemented, in a cross-cutting manner, which seek positive change in social norms, the involvement of children, and advocacy to ensure adequate fiscal space for children.
We hope you enjoy reading this, and that this mixture of fiction through the stories of Vitória and of reality through the results of 2014, will motivate you to invest more in the well-being of our children.