Friday, December 14, 2012

Make every life count: High level meeting on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics

Signatures of participants as a pledge to make every life count
© UNICEF EAPRO 2012/Anna Richardson 
10th – 11th December 2012 – ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand, I was lucky enough to attend a massive regional meeting this week, my first week on the job with UNICEF’s East Asia and Pacific Regional office in Bangkok, Thailand. Monday 10 December was International Human Rights Day, and I joined 232 senior representatives from 48 countries and 22 UN and NGO partners to discuss the importance of making every life count in Asia and the Pacific.

Convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), co-organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and in collaboration with 18 additional UN, civil society and government partners, the two day high level meeting focused on the critical importance of maintaining proper civil registration and vital statistics systems and how these seemingly mundane systems are at the front line of protecting children’s rights to health, education and protection.

A stitch in time: street children learn a trade

Thanda sews a shirt during the vocational training offered to street children
© UNICEF Myanmar/2012/Andy Brown
Sixteen-year-old Thanda* has spent much of her life living and working on the streets of Yangon, capital of Myanmar. She is a a Burmese of ethnic Indian descent: a small, serious teenager in a blue polo shirt and traditional longyi skirt.

Thanda’s father is a manual labourer and her mother is a washer woman. She has seven siblings. When the family earns enough, they live in bamboo hut outside town. But other times they can’t afford the rent and have to live on the streets. “I used to pick up garbage with my brothers,” she told me when I met her at a drop-in centre for street children. “We would sell plastic bottles to junk shops for 2 to 4 dollars a day. I never went to school and I didn’t know how to look after my health.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Investing in nutrition: A tale of two Indonesian districts

By Dr. Festo P. Kavishe, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF, EAPRO
When I was asked to participate in a meeting in Jakarta of the  EU/UNICEF project on Maternal and Young Child Nutrition Security Initiative in Asia last month, little did I know it would be such a learning experience. Not only around nutrition, but also on how community-based programmes are being put in place in middle income countries (MIC) with visible results.

While I was in Indonesia, I got to visit Klaten and Brebes districts where improving children’s nutrition is an explicit goal. My visit reminded me of the community programmes I helped organise in the late 1990s in Cambodia and the UNICEF/WHO Joint Nutrition Programmes and the UNICEF supported Child Survival and Development (CSD) Programmes implemented in some countries in the 1980s and 1990s.