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A second chance for adolescents: “catching up” growth beyond first 1,000 days

(23 July 2018) Undernutrition has made stunted growth and the delayed onset of puberty common in many regions. However, stunting recovery interventions may enable undernourished young people to catch-up on height and other developmental markers. The potential for a ‘catch-up’ growth window in adolescence has been suggested for some time but has not yet been substantiated. A new working paper published by UNICEF Innocenti, The Intricate Relationship between Chronic Undernutrition, Impaired Linear Growth and Delayed Puberty, explores this important opportunity.Adolescent girls react during a nutrition counselling session at the anganwadi center in Maharashtra, India. Chronic undernutrition is characterized by long-term exposure to food of insufficient quality and inadequate quantity. In a state of chronic food insufficiency, the human body conserves energy by prioritizing essential metabolic processes resulting in impaired growth and delayed reproductive maturation.As the human capital of the future, drivers of economic growth, and parents of the next generation, adolescents are an incredibly important group. Therefore, addressing undernutrition in young adolescents is critical. With 15–20% of total height and 45% of adult bone mass achieved during adolescence, this phase may be the final opportunity to influence adult height and mitigate stunting. Growth and development during adolescence are susceptible to nutritional, environmental and hormonal factors and, subsequently, possible modifications.With 15–20% of total height and 45% of adult bone mass achieved during adolescence, this phase may be the final opportunity to influence adult height and mitigate stunting.Knowledge gaps, including adolescent-specific evidence and the long-term effects of undernourishment, inhibit progress in this area. To address this gap, UNICEF Innocenti conducted a workshop bringing together humanitarian and adolescence experts from around the globe. This working paper serves a summary of the biological-centered discussion that took place in the workshop, and outlines knowledge gaps and opportunities.The paper provides a review of key literature on catch-up growth during adolescence, including: catch-up growth from longitudinal cohorts in LMICs; catch-up growth of children born small-for-gestational age; and catch-up growth through a change in environment. Biological mechanisms - including puberty onset, the hormonal consequences of undernutrition, and bone growth – are also considered.A boy has his height and weight measured in South Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  The study finds an association between undernutrition, impaired linear growth and delayed puberty. It also acknowledges that puberty is the period in which catch-up growth may (or may not) take place. However, these findings are limited due to uncertainties about the biological mechanisms of growth and adolescent-specific influences on linear growth.Difficulties in determining catch-up growth during adolescence arise from incomplete data on the subject. Despite the available evidence on catch-up growth in adolescence, there is still a lack of high-quality data, particularly for adolescent boys. Methodological inconsistencies in definitions and reference populations make comparison between studies difficult. The practicality of collecting individual-specific puberty and growth measures, for example breast development or long bone fusion, further compounds the issue of incomplete data.Without a global standard to identify catch-up growth in adolescence, mainstreaming results remains a challenge. The paper calls for increased collaboration among stakeholders and consensus on research methods in order to strengthen existing findings. Without more robust evidence, interventions aimed at ameliorating stunting will be compromised. This working paper is one of various pieces of research being conducted on the long-term effects of humanitarian crises including the analysis of genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda on well-being of adolescents and a piece on the knowledge gaps and possible solutions to measure long term effects of crises. This series will also include a final piece on data collection improvements required to capture the long-term effects of undernutrition and to identify more specifically the vulnerabilities of adolescents.
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Bullying: a global challenge requires a global measure

(12 July 2018) Bullying among children is a global challenge, with numerous detrimental side effects that have broader societal implications. Both victims and perpetrators of bullying suffer across various dimensions, including personal social development, education, and health, with negative effects persisting into adulthood. Bullying is also a serious concern for policymakers and child practitioners. High rates of bullying amongst children should raise warning flags regarding child rights’ failings. Moreover, due to its damaging effects on learning and behaviour, bullying in schools could reduce the effectiveness of public investment in children’s education and may incur costs through riskier behaviour in the future. These concerns have contributed to bullying becoming a globally recognised challenge. Yet, despite every region in the world monitoring children’s experiences of bullying, a validated global measure has not been produced. To fill this gap, UNICEF Innocenti’s Education Officer, Dominic Richardson, and Oxford University’s Chii Fen Hiu, have developed a global indicator on bullying by combining data from six international surveys on bullying prevalence amongst 11- to 15-year-olds in 145 countries.Patricia, 14, stands in a hallway at Professor Daniel Cordón Salguero Elementary School in El Salvador. The recently released working paper, Developing a Global Indicator on Bullying of School-Aged Children, documents the process of building and validating this global indicator of bullying. Secondly, the paper provides basic analyses on bullying rates and its links to macro-level determinants, including wealth, educational outcomes, and youth suicide rates. Finally, in the absence of a globally representative survey of children, the paper proposes a method of global indicator development that may be used to operationalise the Sustainable Development Goals.Important findings of the paper include:Experiencing some form of bullying at least once in a couple of months is most common amongst school children in poorer countries. By region, South Asia and West and Central Africa experience most bullying. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States experience the lowest rates of bullying. Neither girls nor boys are consistently more affected by bullying, but often boys and younger children experience more bullying. Bullying risk is not clearly linked with income inequality or educational expenditure, but high risk countries report lower per capita GDP and lower secondary school enrolment.Despite a loss in detail in scale, and much regional data being incomparable, it is possible to harmonise national-level data, to define and validate a measure of bullying risk for global comparison.Global National Map of Bullying by Relative RiskThe vast majority of the globe has usable data, and these have been shaded according to the risk of bullying from light grey (low) to black (high). Gaps in the data (white areas) are most notable in central and West Africa, South Asia, parts of Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS, and islands in the Pacific.At a glance, the global map shows higher risk in the western hemisphere, and lowest risk in the eastern hemisphere. However, this picture serves best to highlight the variation in experiences within regions. Variation is also likely to exist within countries, and between socio-economic and socio-demographic groups, and which cannot be uncovered using this analysis. The findings of the paper show that bullying is a complex phenomenon that takes multiple forms, and is experienced to widely varying degrees across the world. Importantly, the paper acknowledges those children who may be missing from the surveys on which the indicator is based. School-based surveys are limited insofar as they are selective in terms of the children they include and the questions they ask, thus influencing results. In particular, cyber-bullying is not included in the indicator. This increasing concern is explored in Innocenti’s work on Child Rights in the Digital Age. Full details by country, including year of study, average age group, source of data, and raw estimates (including gender breakdowns) can be found in the annex of the paper.
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Best of UNICEF Research 2018 Winners List Published

(11 July 2018) Now in its sixth edition, Best of UNICEF Research continues to be a fertile source of inspiring, rigorous and influential evidence. Each year, UNICEF’s Office of Research—Innocenti invites UNICEF offices around the world – including country offices, regional offices, national committees, and headquarters - to submit recent examples of research for children. The aim is to bring attention to work that contributes to shifting policy agendas and has a high potential for impact on policies and programmes that benefit children.Fourteen-year-old Amina Hassan (name changed) in the Ifo refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border. Amina has never attended school and was married off by her parents at age 12.  Showcasing some of the most innovative and rigorous research coming out of UNICEF, the winners cover a range of topics, locations, cultures and levels of economic development. Following an internal review of 105 eligible submissions, UNICEF Innocenti staff identified 12 finalists which were then independently reviewed by an external panel of international experts.  Acknowledging their strong conceptualization, sound methodology, originality and potential for impact, the panel selected the following winners: FGM/C and Child Marriage Among the Rendille, Maasai, Pokot, Samburu and Somali Communities in Kenya Produced by UNICEF Kenya with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and UNFPA. The panel commended this piece for its grounded inquiry through its exploration of local perceptions. Prioritizing understanding over condemnation, the study takes a step towards working with communities rather than against them to expedite the eradication of harmful practices. One of the study’s main strengths is its comprehensive mixed methods approach. This allowed for a detailed and thoughtful discussion including considerations about gender, ethnicity and religion.Understanding Child Multidimensional Poverty in EgyptProduced by the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS), the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), and UNICEF Egypt. This innovative report provides evidence to inform integrated interventions to address child poverty. Using a life-course approach and focusing on the child as the unit of analysis, the report effectively captured children’s different experiences of deprivation. A strength of the report was the clear linkage of the results of the study with existing policies and the SDGs. Lives Interrupted: Adolescent Homicides in Fortaleza and in six municipalities in the state of CearáProduced by UNICEF Brazil, the Legislative Assembly of Ceará and the Government of Ceará. The panel found this report to be a “brave and compelling study that offers an innovative and captivating way of conducting and presenting research”. Complementing the deep scope and robust analyses, the report uses a story-telling approach to magnify its impact. By using the biographies of young people who have been murdered, as well as gathering data from family members and statistical data on young people’s experiences, the study achieves an effective integration of quantitative and qualitative analyses.UNICEF Innocenti is particularly excited to see that the three winners are from countries that have never before been shortlisted as finalists for the Best of UNICEF Research. It is motivating to see a submission by the MENA region among the top three for the second year in a row, as this region is typically underrepresented when compared to other regions’ number of submissions. The most prevalent themes this year include child protection and health, as well as submissions with cross-cutting themes.The Importance of EthicsFollowing a 2016 review of assessment criteria, ethical considerations were given a high priority, meaning that any submissions that fell short of ethical standards were not considered for shortlisting. While the quality of submissions significantly increased this year, disappointingly many high-quality reports were deemed ineligible or poorly rated due to an insufficient concern over ethics. Of 105 submissions, 16% failed to report on their ethical procedures, while only 10 submissions were found to have reported ethics to a high standard, including how consent was sought and a discussion of any potential ethical issues. UNICEF Innocenti is committed to ensuring that all research undertaken by UNICEF and its partners is ethical, and has developed procedures and guidelines to help researchers ensure ethical research involving children.The Top 12 SubmissionsCommenting on the twelve finalists, the panel found that all reports produced findings that are very relevant to UNICEF’s work and country-specific priorities, with many already impacting national policies and programmes. Reviewers noted that while many studies align to current needs in the country of study, others stood out thanks to their original approach. When assessing impact, the panel found it challenging to select between innovative projects and those that focused on familiar topics that continue to impact children in low and middle-income countries. The panel noted the challenge in selecting the best three out of a variety of high quality research output. Congratulations to each of the 12 finalists for their extremely strong submissions:Indonesia: Children in Indonesia: An analysis of poverty, mobility, and multidimensional deprivationEgypt: Understanding Child Multidimensional Poverty in EgyptKenya: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and Child Marriage among the Rendille, Maasai, Pokot, Samburu and Somali Communities in KenyaBrazil: Lives Interrupted: Adolescent homicides in Fortaleza and in six municipalities in the state of CearaGlobal (NYHQ): Quality improvement initiatives for hospitalised small and sick newborns in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic reviewAfghanistan: Understanding threats to polio vaccine commitment among caregivers in high-priority areas of Afghanistan: a polling studyNigeria: Effect of Female Teachers on Girls' enrolment and retention in Northern NigeriaMali: Using serum antibody detection to assess impact of school WASH improvements on child infection diseasesChina: What could cognitive capital mean for China's children?Multi-Country: Making the connection - Intimate partner violence and violence against children in Eastern Europe and Central AsiaThailand: Review of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in ThailandEthiopia: Generation El Niño: Long term Impacts on Children’s Well-being UNICEF staff can read all 12 finalist’s reports on our Teamsite.For those outside of UNICEF, the Best of UNICEF Research Report will be available online and in print by the end of the year. In the meantime, you can explore previous Best of UNICEF Research publications.Thank you to our external panel for their time and comments. The panel as composed by Nicholas Alipui (Senior Visiting Scholar at Yale University Mac Millan Center for International and Area Studies and former Director of Programmes for UNICEF), Virginia Morrow (former Senior Research Officer/Associate Professor in ODID and Deputy Director of Young Lives), Aravinda Meera Guntupalli (Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the Open University), and Eliya Zulu (Executive Director of the African Institute for Development Policy).
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Knowledge for Children in Africa: 2018 Publications Catalogue Published

(4 July 2018) Each year, UNICEF and its partners in Africa generate a wealth of evidence about the situation of children. The 2018 edition of the Knowledge for Children in Africa Publications Catalogue represents the collective knowledge produced by UNICEF Country and Regional Offices across Africa. Knowledge and evidence are essential to informing the development, monitoring and implementation of policies and programmes for the realization of children’s rights.In Africa, the current demographic revolution will see the under-18 population increase by two thirds, reaching almost 1 billion by 2050. These figures underscore an urgent need for strong evidence to inform the implementation of social policies and budgets for children.The catalogue features over 130 of the most important reports and studies that UNICEF and its partners have generated on the situation of children and young people across the continent. Covering a wide range of topics - including Child Poverty; Education and Early Childhood Development; and Social Protection among others - the publication captures some of the most advanced work to support efforts by children and young people to realize their rights to survival, development and protection.The under-18 population in Africa will reach almost 1 billion by 2050.UNICEF Innocenti has contributed extensively to evidence generation efforts in Africa. Within the Child Poverty topic alone, seven reports adopt Innocenti’s MODA tool for measuring multi-dimensional child poverty. A vaccinator records the number of children who have been immunized against polio by a vaccination team in Juba, South Sudan. Commenting on this, Social and Economic Policy expert Lucia Ferrone, notes an increase in efforts to track and measure child poverty in more African countries over recent years. “It’s great to see so many countries not only join the measurement, but also embrace UNICEF’s measure of child multidimensional poverty,” says Ferrone. “MODA was the first measure used to assess child poverty in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, revealing that as many as 67% of children were multidimensionally poor. Now, countries are using MODA to adapt their national needs and priorities.”"It’s tremendous to see countries like Mali proceed on the second round of child poverty measurement since 2014."Many studies in the catalogue explore the area of Education and Early Childhood Development. Despite considerable progress towards the goal of universal primary education, "high school drop-out rates, low levels of school readiness, poor learning outcomes, and high levels of teacher absenteeism continue to plague many African states," notes education expert Despina Karamperidou. "Generating high quality evidence on the magnitude and underlying causes of negative education outcomes is the first crucial step in addressing them through the development of education policies and programs that are both context specific and culturally sensitive.""Generating high quality evidence is the first crucial step in addressing negative outcomes"UNICEF contributes to this effort by investing in three types of research projects, outlined in detail in the catalogue: (1) tools development for the measurement of education outcomes, (2) quantitative mapping and assessment exercises, and (3) qualitative causal analyses. Karamperidou comments that "collectively, these studies provide an evidence base on the major education challenges besetting the continent and a real opportunity for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of African education systems."The catalogue aims to more effectively disseminate knowledge and evidence being generated in Africa for key African constituencies working on children’s rights and development, and promote improved south-south learning exchange among countries. This third edition of the catalogue adds to the fast-growing evidence base on the situation of children in Africa.  Download the full catalogue.
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Closing the Gaps in Child Well-Being

(25 June 2018) A new Mega-Map highlights gaps in evidence and aims to inspire a broader conversation around child well-being, helping to achieve UNICEF’s latest Strategic Plan. Responding to the need for a more evidence-informed approach, a new Mega-Map encourages the generation and use of rigorous evidence on effective ways to improve child well-being for policy and programming.
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New Technologies: Rich Source of Data or Ethical Minefield for Researchers?

(21 June 2018) We sat down with Gabrielle Berman, our expert on research ethics, to chat about her two new discussion papers which explore the ethics of using new technologies to generate evidence about children. The papers, written collaboratively with UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, highlight the advantages and risks of using these technologies to gather data about children. They also provide useful guidance for researchers – especially those unfamiliar with technology – on the questions they should be asking in order to protect children’s rights.Twelve-year-old Waibai Buka (second left) teaches her friends how to use a computer tablet provided by UNICEF, at a school in Baigai, northern Cameroon. What inspired you to produce these two discussion papers?During staff trainings, we kept getting requests from staff who wanted technical advice around technology and the use of technologies for data collection and evidence generation. Most didn’t know where to start or what to consider when thinking about using these technologies. This was the initial foray into an incredibly complex and important area for UNICEF around using technology for evidence generation.Why focus on social media and geospatial technology specifically?We started with social media and geospatial technology because these were the two that were the most prevalent in the organisation at the time, and there was the most demand for guidance. We should now also be considering the ethical implications of technologies like biometrics, blockchain and wearable technology. We have already started receiving requests from staff for technical advice around the ethical implications of these new technologies.The papers were written in collaboration with the Office of Innovation. What were the benefits of the process?Without this collaboration, the papers wouldn’t have the same status. The dialogue and relationships that were established through the collaboration of the two offices are just as important as the papers themselves. Working together also meant that we could establish an advisory group which spanned everything from ICT for Development, to communications, to data and analytics.  In this way, people with all sorts of expertise across the organization could input into the papers.What are some of the most common misconceptions about the use of these technologies for evidence generation?It depends on what side of the fence you’re on. From my perspective, one of the biggest misconceptions is that technology is unequivocally good, meaning these technologies could be used without appropriate reflection on the implications and potential impacts. However, for those on the technology side, one of the biggest issues is that technology won’t be used for fear of the complexity of the ethical implications. The benefit of collaborating with the Innovation office was that we had two different perspectives, but both are equally valid. Through dialogue, we acknowledged the benefits as much as the risks and agreed that what was required was reflective practice. It’s not an absolute yes or a no, but rather an “if” and “how can we do this?” and what strategies do we need to consider?Adolescent girls look at social media posts while attending a "Lifeskills" event in Union Development & Culture Community Centre in Djibouti. What is the biggest challenge with regards ensuring ethical compliance when using these technologies?The biggest challenge is understanding the implications of the technology when you’re not a native technocrat. It’s incredibly difficult for staff in the field to understand the type of questions they should be asking. They also have to receive responses in simple English in order for them to start thinking through the ethical issues and the potential mitigation strategies. Part of the challenge is to change thinking and empower those who aren’t tech natives to feel comfortable enough to ask questions and interrogate the potential implications of the technology. We must avoid abdication of responsibility to tech experts and remind staff that they are in fact the experts on potential implications for children. To be a child advocate it’s incredibly important to ask the right questions, to understand and to take responsibility for the technology and its implications. "We must avoid abdication of responsibility to tech experts and remind staff that they are in fact the experts on potential implications for children."How can we empower people to feel like they can ask the right questions?Firstly, we need to provide them with guidance. But importantly, we need to get stakeholders around the same table - including the social media companies, the data scientists, and the communities we work with. We should bring these people with different perspectives together, acknowledging everyone’s expertise, and engaging in dialogue on what the potential ethical issues are and how they can be mitigated. This joint risk assessment is a key way to start a constructive dialogue on the issues and potential mitigation strategies. How can we mitigate the threat of data and algorithms informing policy, without appropriate engagement and dialogue?Firstly, it’s important to appreciate the implications of the data sets on which algorithms are based and to be aware that the algorithms may have built-in biases. For example, certain populations are more likely to be monitored and so data on arrests are more likely to be higher for this group. Following from this, we need to understand that certain populations may be excluded from the data sets. Algorithms are based on training data, so unless all communities are included in the data, the outcomes and predictions are not going to be representative of these communities. For example, when data is gathered via smartphones, those who don’t have a smartphone are excluded.Thirdly, we must recognize that modelling looks at trends only and does not consider individuals. Algorithms may see these trends as a whole but, like any type of quantitative data, it will miss the qualitative nuances underpinning these findings. While it may be very easy to adopt big data sets and use them to determine policies, we must not forget that there are very real risks in making decisions based on quantitative trends alone. The Convention on the Rights of the Child very clearly says that a child has the right to have a voice on matters that affect them. If we start basing policy exclusively on quantitative data, we are not giving voice to the nuances that may explain the data or the nuances of the individual who may differ from the broader findings. It’s very important that we acknowledge the value of big data, but we must also acknowledge that individuals still need to have a voice. Listening to children’s voices should never be replaced by a purely quantitative approach, so while data is a very valuable tool, it is only one tool."We must not forget that there are very real risks in making decisions based on quantitative trends alone."Are there any other ethical risks that stem from using this type of data?With social media data in particular, if you run algorithms against the data you may start using it for purposes other than those originally intended when people submitted this data. The moment you start taking data out of context, it may lose its contextual integrity in which case we have to ask whether it is still relevant. This idea of contextual integrity needs to be interrogated. Adolescent girls use cellphones and tablets in a solar kiosk providing internet connectivity in the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, Jordan. Does ensuring ethical compliance also provide an opportunity to educate people on technology and online privacy?I don’t see it as an opportunity but rather an obligation stemming from our use of these technologies. If you’re using third party data in a public way, it must also be announced publicly, in the spirit of full disclosure. We must recognise the importance of transparency in the work we do, particularly when it may be difficult if not impossible to secure informed consent. With social media projects, where you’re actively using the platform to engage young people, it’s incredibly important that you actually provide information around privacy. You cannot guarantee that children have child-friendly explanations, and so it’s our responsibility to educate and to be clear about the risks involved. Are there any additional potential risks specifically associated with geospatial technology?Geospatial technology has been invaluable in both development and humanitarian contexts, but we need to think about where we source the data, how useful it is, whether it’s a two-way dialogue, and if can we respond to any requests for help in humanitarian contexts. We particularly need to be concerned with the potential risks involved and the security of this data in humanitarian contexts. In these situations, we’re often dealing with vulnerable populations. Because of this, we must be very careful to ensure that this data is limited to those who absolutely need to access the data, particularly any raw and individual data, with specific consideration for the safety of the populations that may be captured by the technology. For this reason, we really need to think about the interoperability of geospatial data systems: which partners are we working with? who in these organisations has access to the data? why do they have access? do we have sufficient security measures? These types of reflections are necessary to fulfil our obligations to protect the communities that we work with.You can download the paper on ethical considerations when using geospatial technology and social media now.
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Workshop on evidence on social protection in contexts of fragility and forced displacement

(6 June 2018) An international workshop at UNICEF Innocenti will bring together and foster exchange between researchers and policy makers working on social protection in settings of humanitarian emergency. The workshop, jointly organized with UNICEF's Social Inclusion section in New York, will take place on 7 and 8 June. The workshop is seen as a follow-up to the international conference on social protection in contexts of fragility and forced displacement held in Brussels in late 2017. The workshop will focus on the latest rigorous quantitative evidence on the effects of social protection programmes in humanitarian settings, concentrating on evidence gaps and the policy implications. The workshop coincides with the publication of seven new draft working papers, which will be discussed on the day. The papers broadly fall into three themes: Comparisons between effectiveness of different delivery modalities; Evaluations and implications of targeting choices (including universal reforms); and Impacts of programs targeted at refugees and host communities.All seven papers are now available for download and can be found on the right-hand column of this page under "Related Content - Publications".Malian refugees use a water point in the Mangaize refugee camp, Niger. Recurrent conflict between armed groups in Northern Mali cause a constant influx of refugees into the Tillabery and Tahoua regions of Niger.As part of the commitments under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, the global community at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) pledged to expand the coverage of social protection measures for all, and to achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable by 2030. This expansion must include scale up of social protection in humanitarian contexts, including fragility and forced displacement to ensure no one is left behind. Social protection is increasingly considered as an important policy response in contexts of fragility and displacement. In non-fragile contexts, Innocenti research has provided extensive evidence and knowledge on related policy implications generated by  Social Cash Transfer Programmes in several low and middle income countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia  among others. Between 2013 and 2015 positive impacts on poverty, income multipliers, food security, productivity, education and health demonstrate that social protection helps reduce poverty, inequality, enhances livelihoods, and has long-term positive impacts on human capital development.This year the UNICEF Innocenti team will continue to document positive evidence and knowledge gaps associated with conducting research on these systems, such as the cash transfer program in Lebanon, known as Min Ila, an initiative of the Government of Lebanon, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme to encourage school participation of displaced Syrian children. As Jacob De Hoop, Humanitarian Policy Specialist at Innocenti leading the research, highlights in his blog this research represents one of the first evaluations of a cash transfer program that aims to improve education outcomes for children in a refugee context and helps fill an important gap in our knowledge about what programs work to help refugees. It also demonstrates the challenges of achieving an equitable balance between assistance for refugees and host populations, an important question, particularly in locations where social protection guarantees for nationals and social services infrastructure remain limited.In September UNICEF Innocenti interviewed six experts attending the Brussels Conference to talk about existing challenges, experience and potential of social protection programmes in contexts of fragility; forced displacement and prolonged crisis, as well as to identify future directions for research. Their words confirm the lack of knowledge in those areas and the critical role of research in bridging the gaps. The interviews conducted now form the basis of a new edition of UNICEF Innocenti's Research Watch programme titled: Social Protection in Emergency Situations Research Watch. On the Research Watch page you can find all the expert video interviews as well as extended podcasts and written commentary.You can download the seven working papers now! Search on the right-hand column of this article under "Related Content - Publications".
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RESULTS REPORT 2017 NOW AVAILABLE

Read UNICEF Innocenti Director Sarah Cook’s foreword to our 2017 Results Report. Download the report for a full summary of our research and results last year and how they positively impact children’s lives.
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Second Global Meeting on Children on the Move: data and evidence discussion on the agenda

(30 May 2018) UNICEF Innocenti researchers Bina D’Costa and Iolanda Genovese attend the Second Global Meeting on Children on the Move in Bangkok. The gathering brings together UNICEF specialists in emergency, programming, policy, communications, advocacy, resource mobilization and partnerships, as well as data and research. The three days of mutual learning and experience sharing (30 May – 1 June) will help to identify implementation gaps and priority actions to support UNICEF’s work on migrant and refugee children, and to promote UNICEF’s Six Point Agenda for Action for Children on the Move in its global ‘UPROOTED’ Campaign.A group of children study sitting under the shade of a tentl at Markazi camp for Yemeni refugees, Djibouti. According to the UNHCR, the Markazi camp hosts around 2,000 refugees fleeing conflict in Yemen since 2015.  Bina D’Costa, Senior Migration and Displacement Research Specialist leading the Innocenti research on Children and Migration, will contribute to the second day session dedicated to data and evidence on migrant and forcibly displaced children. According to her blog about the 2018 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2018)  prepared by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), “despite twenty years of global and national policy effort, since the publication of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in 1998, the pace of displacement is still outstripping efforts to address it.”  Out of 30.6 million new internal displacements in 2017, children represent a significant proportion, and are certainly the most vulnerable. However, major data gaps persist and data disaggregation by age and sex is crucial to paint the full picture of internal displacement and its impacts on children. More investments must be made at the national and international levels in sustainable development, peacebuilding, climate change impacts and disaster risk reduction for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, as internal displacement is directly related to all the Goals.“despite twenty years of global and national policy effort, the pace of displacement is still outstripping efforts to address it.”At the end of 2018 the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be convened under the auspices of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It will represent a crucial moment for all Member States and for UNICEF’s work on refugee and migrant children. At that moment child-sensitive and child-responsive research will be more important than ever to understand the dynamics of migration not captured by more general research on migration. “We need systematic analyses to understand the dynamics of child migration. Research, in particular evidence-based research, can persuade international, regional and state actors that the migration of children is a humanitarian issue not just a political issue” said D’Costa in a recent interview.South Sudanese Gedain Galwak, 8, smiles as he waits in line for the water to be turned on in the morning, in the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu, South Sudan “Research can dispel myths and anxieties surrounding migration, and could help design strategies that are effective in resettling children. Good research can also explain to advocates for child migrants how and why certain political decisions are taken, and support the explicit integration of children’s rights and protection in the migration agenda,” D'Costa said.
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A Delicate Balance: protecting and empowering young people in South Asia

(22 May 2018) UNICEF’s latest Strategic Plan explicitly prioritises the crucial second decade: adolescence. This is a period of huge vulnerability and a great opportunity to make investments that can pay enormous dividends today as well as for future generations. However, in order for adolescents to thrive and reach their full potential, legal and policy frameworks must be improved to ensure all children’s rights are respected and protected. Adolescent girls run and play kabaddi in the playground of the Government Middle School in Badhwa, India.  A recent report, Realising an Enabling Environment for Adolescent Wellbeing: An Inventory of Laws and Policies for Adolescents in South Asia, provides an overview of these essential frameworks (through 2016) and how they relate to adolescents’ evolving capacities. The inventory, compiled by UNICEF Innocenti’s Elena Camilletti, provides a platform for policy makers and programmers to understand what has been enacted in the South Asian region. It also provides analysis of what can be further improved in order to bring legal and policy frameworks in line with international standards to ensure adolescents can fulfil their potential, make decisions and participate fully in society.With 340 million adolescents in South Asia, there are more young people living here than in any other region in the world. India alone is home to more than 250 million adolescents. This stock-taking exercise of eight South Asian countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - sheds light on the similarities and differences among these countries regarding the translation of international human rights law into national normative frameworks. Nine domains of child rights are examined: political rights; protection; education; health; marriage; protection from child labour; social protection; digital rights; equality and non-discrimination. Research has revealed that this transformative period offers a unique window of opportunity to influence the development and outcomes of children and young people. The delicate balance between protection and empowerment presents a challenge unique to this increasingly independent age group. Laws and policies, then, must strike a balance between protecting adolescents from vulnerabilities and risks, while recognising their growing autonomy and capacity to make responsible decisions. The study reveals that this challenge can result in incoherent legislation, including loopholes that raise concerns over the effective protection of adolescents as well as opportunities for their empowerment.Commenting on the results, Elena Camilletti observes that “grey areas are exposed throughout the analysis. In some countries and in some of the nine domains of rights examined, the policy and legal frameworks don’t clearly contradict international standards, but they also do not enable adolescents to thrive.” Laws and policies are not always enacted in a coherent and integrated way, for example discrepancies exist between the minimum age for the end of compulsory education and the minimum age for admission to employment. This is important, as the issues affecting adolescents are complex and intertwined and thus call for policy action across multiple lines. Significant exceptions in laws and policies, for example in relation to early marriage, similarly limit their effectiveness. There are examples of outright contraventions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child with some minimum age requirements lower than those prescribed.The table shows selected laws and policies, and compares these national provisions with international standards. Cells are coloured according to whether a country’s legal and policy frameworks are fully in line with international standards, including by providing specific protections for adolescents (green), partially in line with them (yellow) or clearly contravene them (red). Grey cells denote frameworks for which there are no clear requirements in international law, or for which no information was found. “Each country has made efforts to meet minimum international standards, but each country also has a lot left to do” according to Camilletti. “In particular, improvements can be made in the protective sphere, for example doing more to protect adolescents from exploitation.” She also stresses the importance of appropriate and coherent laws and policies which consider adolescent rights in their indivisible entirety.This study is a first step towards understanding the legal coverage for the protection and empowerment of adolescents in specific institutional contexts. Recognizing that implementation gaps (the effective coverage) can undermine legal protection, this report calls for future studies to explore laws and policies in practice, where the interpretation, enactment and enforcement may influence the fulfilment of rights for adolescents. Another consideration is how adolescents themselves perceive these laws. Parallel UNICEF initiatives, including Latin America and the Caribbean region’s study on legal minimum ages and the Europe and Central Asia region’s Age matters! Project conducted by Youth Policy Labs, are exploring these questions in different contexts and helping to fill evidence gaps in the area.The eight countries analysed share some cultural, political and social similarities, yet are at the same time incredibly diverse. Beyond human rights codified by international standards, the Sustainable Development Goals are an opportunity for the governments of these countries to systematically address development issues and work towards the 2030 deadline. The interests of young people are represented in many of these goals, targets, and indicators. With this in mind, national laws and policies, in addition to programmes and interventions, must be advanced to better protect and empower adolescents.
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