By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The need for increased investments to improve quality education services, health care, and prevent violence against children has been emphasised by Liberia and UNICEF.
The call for action came after a joint annual review of progress in 2016, and agreement on priorities for focus in 2017.
“Liberia has made significant progress since the end of the Ebola outbreak, with health facilities functional, and many children back in school. It is essential that we increase investments in these critical areas, to ensure that Liberia builds on the progress made, and also address other critical areas to promote child and women’s rights,” says the Minister of Finance and Development Planning in the country, Boima Kamara.
“UNICEF has contributed close to US 48 million dollars in 2016 toward increasing access to services as well as to the improvement of the lives of children and women in Liberia, and the benefits are evident,” added Minister Kamara.
The Government of Liberia – UNICEF annual review meeting held on 28 November assessed the implementation of joint work plans and the key results achieved during 2016. Prior to this annual review meeting, comprehensive sectoral reviews were conducted since early November, led by the Government and UNICEF together with a wide range of development and civil society partners.
The objective of the annual review process was to assess overall progress, collaboratively strategize ways to address challenges, and prioritize interventions for 2017.
“This is an important step in our efforts to improve the lives of children and women in Liberia,” says Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, UNICEF Representative in Liberia. “Only through reflection and a thorough review of our work can we assess progress, identify shortcomings and strategize on the way forward.”
“We thank all our donor partners for their support, without which progress would not have been made. However, many challenges remain. We need to increase investments in critical areas to address post-Ebola outbreak challenges and residual issues, as well as combat the high levels of violence against children.
“The government needs to ensure that health, education and other services receive adequate funding in the annual budget, while development partners need to provide long-term predictable funding to help plan and implement projects that have long-term sustainable impact.”
Some of the key highlights of progress in 2016, include:
- The reactivation of health services, and increased access for children and women.
- Over 700,000 children and 44,000 teachers have increased access to learning and teaching through the provision of teaching/learning kits.
- Over 225,000 people have benefitted from the construction or rehabilitation of water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management systems in 9 hospitals and 4 health facilities in eight counties.
- Water, sanitation and hygiene services have been provided in 102 schools in six counties, benefiting close to 40,000 children.
- Increased trend of immunization coverage observed in 2016.
- Over 140,000 children have received birth certificates, up from 63,500 in 2015.
- Close to 145,000 most vulnerable children and young people have received quality essential social services through the deployment of social workers.
- Populations have increased access to life-saving information on immunization, handwashing, nutrition and protection.
- Ninety community peace committees have been set up to increase peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
- 300 National Volunteers were deployed at 118 public institutions in 13 counties to support sub-national service provision, especially as teachers in schools, benefitting over 45,000 pupils and community residents.
- 1,000 adolescent received life-skills training.
A number of priorities were agreed on for focus in 2017, including:
- Advocacy to increase budgeting for health, education and social services.
- Scale-up implementation of the community health assistant programme in five counties.
- Increase youth and adolescent empowerment and employment opportunities through life-skills, vocational and technical education.
- Develop and disseminate a national life skills curriculum for adolescents, and support the development of an adolescent empowerment strategy.
- Support the development of the National Plan of Action for Children.
- Increase efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence.
- Increase public awareness about the importance of early childhood development, and support planned initiatives.
- Scale up learner-centred teacher training in order to improve learning outcomes.
UNICEF has been a longstanding partner of the Government of Liberia in implementing its priorities and promoting the rights and wellbeing of the children of Liberia.
On December 10, 2016 UNICEF marks 70 years of working internationally in 190 countries to bring life-saving aid, long-term support and hope to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict, crises, poverty, inequality and discrimination.
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