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International Conference on Social Protection in the contexts of fragility and forced displacement

(27 September 2017) Evidence demonstrates that a set of protective policies – known as social protection – can help reduce poverty, inequality, and childhood deprivation and has long-term positive impacts on human capital development. Social protection can unlock the productive potential of the poorest, increase local economic growth and micro-economic activity and even stimulate aggregate growth.
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Innovative research impact assessment looks at drivers of violence study in Peru

(21 September 2017) Dr. Sarah Morton, of the University of Edinburgh, and fellow researchers, recently completed an impact assessment of a UNICEF Innocenti research programme, the Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children, which generates evidence on best pathways to prevent violence against children in Italy, Peru, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe. The project aims to help governments address violence against children by promoting better understanding of why it occurs – the drivers of violence. The assessment report narrowed its focus on the outcomes of the violence study in Peru, making that country a case study for important lessons learned for other countries involved in the research project and beyond.The assessment addressed the following objectives: understand and evaluate the impact of the Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children in Peru; assist UNICEF in demonstrating the value of research-based projects on children and violence through objective verification; and develop and refine an approach to assessing the impact of research through field testing in a middle income country setting. “The Drivers of Violence project has human-centred design approaches at its core. Findings are intended to feed back into both national programming and the emerging global evidence base on violence prevention on a real-time basis,” said Kerry Albright, Chief of Research Facilitation and Knowledge Management at Innocenti. “Unusually, early indications of outcomes and impact were emerging even before research outputs had been written.  We were keen to better understand and document the value of approaching research in such a way through independent corroboration, as well as to capture tacit knowledge and effects not usually captured by more traditional impact assessment models.”The impact assessment found that the multi-partner, relationships-driven approach of the Multi-Country Study helped to maximise impact in Peru. The assessment also found that national ownership of the research process was important in ensuring that the findings were specific to Peru, a key finding considering the country’s geographic diversity and multi-culturalism, and also helped ensure national ownership and data sovereignty. Dr Morton’s assessment also set out to test the Research Contribution Framework (Morton, 2015), developed to examine how research uptake and use ‘contributes’ to policy and practice change, in a low- and middle-income country. The Research Contribution Framework requires key partners to agree the main mechanisms through which the research might impact on policy or practice, which are then tested, along with key risks and assumptions. [Read an 8 page illustrated data graphics report Cross-Country Snapshot of Findings from the Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children]In describing the Research Contribution Framework, Albright explained the framework has been adapted from contribution analysis, using the idea of ‘contribution’ to help explain the ways research is taken up and used to influence policy and practice as well as to articulate wider benefits. The Framework provides an empirical basis to focus on research users and to better assess the value of the research process as well as the final outcomes, enabling the team to capture more intangible impacts such as empowerment, ownership, trust and the added value of strategic partnerships which had occurred along the way.A husband and wife receive counseling and information on domestic violence from a district social worker in Vinchos, PeruBy using this approach, the Study contributed to a number of policy and programme changes in Peru, including the passage of a law banning corporal punishment in all settings. Through this impact assessment, the Research Contribution Framework was also found to be adaptable and effective in low- and middle-income countries, and could be used to assess research impact in other contexts. Similar to other impact studies (Oliver et al 2014) there are several key factors that helped to unlock impact in this case:Starting out with an intention to make a difference Building a partnership approach to research, acknowledging different roles needed for change (but also creating time lags and other challenges) Assigning knowledge-brokering roles to key staff In-country research and analysis capacity building a core component of the approachNew to this study, the value of it being a multi-country study was also identified as a factor which maximised impact. The fact that the study allowed participants to understand how the drivers of violence affecting children in Peru compare to other countries was important, with one saying they ‘don’t feel alone’. [Read Mary Catherine Maternowska's blog: Bringing data out of the shadows in Peru - A 25 year journey]Key findings from the UNICEF Innocenti study on the drivers of violence affecting children in Peru: The study used a practically-focused, multi-partner approach to generating evidence that was important for subsequent impact. The specific combination of research outputs, awareness-raising, capacity-building and knowledge-brokering activities, built on this partnership approach, and maximised impact. UNICEF took a knowledge brokerage role to connect people with the research and to ensure key actors were aware of and included in the study, its findings and possible actions. Richer connections between research and policy were developed and sustained. Being engaged closely with the study helped local actors to be clearer about the issues of violence in their country, and was seen as a useful way of forwarding the agenda to tackle violence. Partnership kept levels of awareness high during a change of government. The study filled an evidence gap, helping to shift discourse on violence and give it higher political priority. There is now more capacity in Peru for academics, government analysts and policy makers to work together to address this issue and to get the evidence they need to develop policy. The research improved access to high quality information on violence, which in turn contributed to legislative changes, will help to leverage funding and has informed programmes at the ministerial level. It has also improved coordination efforts at the national level regarding violence prevention and has influenced how other countries in the region approach violence issues. Study partners will continue to work on violence issues. Levels of violence against children may have begun to decrease in Peru since the start of the study, but the final impact of the study is not yet known. Read a case study report on the violence affecting children study in Peru (Spanish) and Dr. Morton’s full impact assessment report. This article was adapted from a story in the AESIS September newsletter.
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Children and youth face abuse, exploitation on Mediterranean migration routes – UNICEF, IOM

(13 September 2017) Migrant and refugee children and youth trying to reach Europe face appalling levels of human rights abuses, with 77 per cent of those traveling along the Central Mediterranean route reporting direct experiences of abuse, exploitation, and practices which may amount to human trafficking – UNICEF and IOM, the UN Migration Agency, said today in a new report. (Download at right)Harrowing Journeys shows that while all migrants and refugees are at high risk, children and youth on the move are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above: nearly twice as likely on the Eastern Mediterranean route and at a rate 13 per cent higher on the Central Mediterranean route.Aimamo, a 16-year-old unaccompanied child from the Gambia interviewed at a shelter in Italy described being forced into months of grueling manual labor by traffickers upon his arrival in Libya. “If you try to run, they shoot you. If you stop working, they beat you. We were just like slaves. At the end of the day, they just lock you inside.”The report is based on the testimonies of some 22,000 migrants and refugees, including some 11,000 children and youth, interviewed by IOM.“The stark reality is that it is now standard practice that children moving through the Mediterranean are abused, trafficked, beaten and discriminated against,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. “EU leaders should put in place lasting solutions that include safe and legal migration pathways, establishing protection corridors and finding alternatives to the detention of migrant children.”[Explore our Children on the Move edition of Research Watch where global experts discuss evidence gaps on refugee and migrant children]“For people who leave their countries to escape violence, instability or poverty, the factors pushing them to migrate are severe and they make perilous journeys knowing that they may be forced to pay with their dignity, their wellbeing or even their lives,” said Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM’s Regional Director for the EU, Norway and Switzerland.“Without the establishment of more regular migration pathways, other measures will be relatively ineffective. We must also re-invigorate a rights-based approach to migration, improving mechanisms to identify and protect the most vulnerable throughout the migration process, regardless of their legal status.”A child sits on a mattress laid on the floor of the women's section of the Al-Nasr detention centre in Zawiya, Libya.UNICEF Innocenti is ramping up research and evidence activities on children in emergency contexts with recent creation of new streams of research on children and migration and humanitarian response. Work will focus on capturing intricate dynamics of children's experiences not captured in other research efforts.The report also shows that, while all children on the move are at high risk, those originating from sub-Saharan Africa are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than those from other parts of the world: 65 per cent compared to 15 per cent along the Eastern Mediterranean route, and 83 per cent compared to 56 per cent along the Central Mediterranean route. Racism is likely a major underlying factor behind this discrepancy.Children and youth traveling alone or over longer periods, along with those possessing lower levels of education, were also found to be highly vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of traffickers and criminal groups over the course of their journeys. According to the report, the Central Mediterranean route is particularly dangerous, with most of the migrants and refugees passing through Libya which remains riven with lawlessness, militias and criminality. On average young people pay between $1,000-5,000 for the journey and often arrive in Europe in debt, which exposes them to further risks.The report calls on all concerned parties − countries of origin, transit and destination, the African Union, the European Union, international and national organizations with support from the donor community – to prioritize a series of actions.These include establishing safe and regular pathways for children on the move; strengthening services to protect migrant and refugee children whether in countries of origin, transit or destination; finding alternatives to the detention of children on the move; working across borders to combat trafficking and exploitation; and combating xenophobia, racism and discrimination against all migrants and refugees.(The original version of the article appeared on www.unicef.org)
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Philippines conducting national survey of child internet use

(11 September 2017) UNICEF Philippines, in collaboration with researchers at De La Salle University, is currently undertaking a national survey of child internet use based on the ‘Global Kids Online’ cross-national research toolkit methodology. The research follows a successful pilot study in 2016. A total of 144 field researchers are carrying out data collection across the country. In order to ensure young children's engagement, emphasis was placed on hiring young researchers with whom children would find it easier to establish rapport.In some cases, the fieldwork researchers have to undertake great efforts to reach secluded areas. For ensuring their safety, as well as to have a gender balance, there is a buddy-system in place in which one male and one female interviewer work and travel together. In terms of equipment, each team member received a waterproof bag for the tablet and printed surveys as back-up.[Read the Global Kids Online Research Synthesis, 2016]“We are trying to do fieldwork site visits and monitor the progress of the fieldwork and the work of the survey interviewers,” said Maria Margarita Ardivilla, of UNICEF Philippines. “This is important so that we can get an understanding of the perspective on the ground and help to address issues as they arise.”“This provided a space in which the field researchers and the members of the Research Board can process and talk about concerns from the field which proved to be an enriching experience for everyone involved. As some of the enumerators work under hard circumstances trying to reach hard to access places, seeing core members of the Research Board boosted their morale.” Researchers are taking a phased approach to the study: the preparatory phase (then undertaken with the University of the Philippines and the Philippines National Institutes of Health) included working on the research protocol and obtaining ethical approval; the second phase entailed conducting the pilot study in 2016; and the final third phase now includes conducting a nationally representative study with children aged 9-17 and their parents.Considering the sensitivity of some of the questions, particularly related to child sexual exploitation, all researchers received an extensive 4-day training prior to commencing the fieldwork. Training sessions were organized by the De La Salle University’s Social Research Development Centre where the research team, including UNICEF, Council for the Welfare of Children and Stairway Foundation, discussed and practiced utilization of standardized, accurate, sensitive and safe techniques for implementing the survey. The training programme included: 1) children’s rights and child safeguarding principles and protection protocols; 2) development and personality of children; 3) a participatory approach to reviewing the Global Kids Online toolkit, the tablet use and questionnaire application, including interview techniques; 4) discussion of key issues related to children’s internet use; 5) ethical considerations when conducting research with children; 6) role plays; and 7) a mock survey. UNICEF Philippines also required a Research Advisory Board to be created by the academic institution where members are from critical national agencies such as the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Justice and Information and Communications Technology from government, NGOs, and sectoral representatives from the youth and LGBT organizations.A school girl takes a ‘selfie’ with her smartphone at St. Francis of Assisi School, while other students check their smartphones after classes in the Central Visayas city of Cebu, Philippines. The study aims to cover as many regions as possible, but some ongoing conflicts pose challenges for the team. The declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao initially raised concerns on whether social preparation and the actual survey would be affected, and whether the personal safety of the data collectors could be ensured. Having addressed the challenges, the fieldwork in Mindanao was able to commence but red flags remain in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This is a fragile region with pockets of armed conflicts and the team is currently seeking dispensation from the Ethical Review Board of De La Salle University to allow the inclusion of the ARMM as a site for the study. During the time of writing, it was reported to UNICEF Philippines that the De La Salle University continued the field survey in Mindanao with facilitation where some of the randomly selected areas had a 100% response rate. Notably, in Metro Manila, children living in gated communities also proved hard to recruit, despite intensive social preparation.At present, 2,250 child respondents are identified to be surveyed. The quantitative survey will be followed by a qualitative workshop for results validation and to afford children the platform to express in more depth their experiences and thoughts about their opportunities and risks in the digital environment.The Global Kids Online survey in Philippines is made possible through the technical support of UNICEF Innocenti, London School of Economics, and the shared programmatic commitment on child online protection of UNICEF Philippines and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.(The original version of this article was written by Maria Margarita Ardivilla of UNICEF Philippines and published on 17 August 2017 on www.globalkidsonline.net. It has been edited slightly for re-publication here.)
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‘Cash plus’ interventions have potential for greater impact than cash alone

(5 September 2017) New Innocenti Working Paper: “How to Make ‘Cash Plus’ Work: Linking Cash Transfers to Services and Sectors”, sets out to evaluate what factors contribute to more successful ‘cash plus’ programme outcomes.  The paper asserts that while cash transfers alone have contributed to numerous positive impacts in reducing poverty and promoting well-being, the provision of cash alone falls short in achieving long-term positive impacts on nutrition, learning, and morbidity. ‘Cash plus’ programmes aim to rectify this impact gap by complementing cash transfers with additional inputs, services, and linkages to other services in order to more effectively achieve successful outcomes and ensure long-term sustainability. The new working paper is a collaboration between the Centre for Social protection, Institute for Development Studies, the Transfer Project, the University of Ghana and UNICEF.‘Cash plus’ programming evolved from the theory that while cash transfers can be effective alone in the most ideal circumstances, the effect of cash transfers can be constrained by behavioural mediators, such as financial security, or broader moderators, such as quality or availability of health services.  Cash transfers alone, for example, may not prompt effective behavioural change to ensure successful outcomes for better nutrition, education, or health – these moderators may need their own additional inputs in the form of infrastructure support to improve the quality and availability of services to recipients.  Complementing cash transfers with programmes to improve access and quality of services aims to address these gaps to augment the effects of income.  Complementary inputs for ‘cash plus’ can include the provision of information, such as educational training or nutrition seminars for new mothers on best practices for feeding their children, as well as the provision of support, such as psycho-social counselling, and the facilitation of access to services, such as health insurance, or strengthening the quality of existing services and linkages.[Ghana LEAP 1000 Impact Evaluation: Overview of Study Design]The study aimed to identify criteria for successful ‘cash plus’ initiatives as well as challenges in development and delivery of such programmes, specifically targeting the health, nutrition, and education sectors.  The study reviewed the emerging evidence assessing the impact of ‘cash plus’ versus stand-alone cash and examined case studies in three countries:Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme in Ghana,Chile Solidario scheme in Chile,Integrated Nutrition Social Cash Transfer (IN-SCT) pilot project in EthiopiaTia Palermo, social policy specialist at UNICEF Innocenti and co-author of the working paper, discussed how ‘cash plus’ programming in Ghana augmented existing transfers to include vulnerable mothers and children. “Innocenti is leading a study evaluating the LEAP programme extension studying pregnant and nursing mothers in Ghana. What we found is that these programs were not reaching households with young children since the previous program targeted the mostly vulnerable elderly population. In order to reach these households, the ‘cash plus’ programme, which included cash transfers ‘plus’ free access to healthcare, was extended to pregnant women and mothers of children under one year old in order to achieve greater impact on child stunting in the first 1000 days,” she said. “This is particularly a problem in Ghana.” One aim of the LEAP ‘cash plus’ programme was to improve basic household consumption and nutrition and access to health care services. A need for complementary health insurance was identified after evidence of LEAP beneficiaries using their cash transfers to pay for high health insurance premiums, and often the cash transfers weren’t enough to cover that. The ‘cash plus’ intervention supplemented the cash benefit with free access to health insurance in Ghana. Previously, this wasn’t something impoverished mothers had access to in Ghana.  The three case studies identified key factors that were likely to contribute to more effective ‘cash plus’ programmes:Policy-level factors: including the importance of political champions in advocating for cash plus programmes and the establishment of formal agreements;Programme-level factors: including the need for awareness and engagement on behalf of all parties involved, such as the availability of a skilled workforce and better resources;Supply-side-level factors: including greater investment in availability and quality of services;Fit-for-purpose interventions: meaning additional components should appropriately match their intended purpose and also take into account local considerations.The paper concludes that the assessment of the three case studies indicates that effective implementation of ‘cash plus’ components has contributed to more successful programme outcomes. Where cash alone fails to address non-financial and structural barriers, ‘cash plus’ has the potential to contribute to greater, more sustainable impacts, overall. Through ‘cash plus’ programmes, the most vulnerable households living in poverty can be targeted beyond financial limitations.While ‘cash plus’ proves to be a promising intervention for social protection, more innovative monitoring and evaluation is called for, especially to understand the impact of the many variations of ‘cash plus’ programming as well as identifying ways to examine the impacts of additional components in isolation from the cash benefit, as well as to gain more insight into how greater impacts can be achieved.Download the working paper here. For more information on cash transfer programmes and ‘cash plus’ studies, please visit our webpage on Social Protection & Cash Transfers and follow our partner project: Transfer Project. Follow @UNICEFInnocenti and @TransferProjct on Twitter for real-time updates on cash transfer social protection programmes.  
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WHO, UNICEF global estimates for water, sanitation and hygiene for the SDGs

(28 August 2017) Some 3 in 10 people worldwide, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 6 in 10, or 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and Sustainable Development Goal Baselines, released last month, presents the first global assessment of “safely managed” drinking water and sanitation services. The overriding conclusion is that too many people still lack access, particularly in rural areas.[During World Water Week: 29 Aug - 1 Sept, UNICEF will be drawing attention to the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies; for more information follow UNICEF coverage here]“Safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban centres,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization. “These are some of the most basic requirements for human health, and all countries have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access them.”Billions of people have gained access to basic drinking water and sanitation services since 2000, but these services do not necessarily provide safe water and sanitation. Many homes, healthcare facilities and schools also still lack soap and water for handwashing.  This puts the health of all people – but especially young children – at risk for diseases, such as diarrhoea.As a result, every year, 361,000 children under 5 years die due to diarrhoea. Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.“Safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene are critical to the health of every child and every community – and thus are essential to building stronger, healthier, and more equitable societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “As we improve these services in the most disadvantaged communities and for the most disadvantaged children today, we give them a fairer chance at a better tomorrow.”Significant inequalities persistIn order to decrease global inequalities, the new SDGs call for ending open defecation and achieving universal access to basic services by 2030. Of the 2.1 billion people who do not have safely managed water, 844 million do not have even a basic drinking water service. This includes 263 million people who have to spend over 30 minutes per trip collecting water from sources outside the home, and 159 million who still drink untreated water from surface water sources, such as streams or lakes. In 90 countries, progress towards basic sanitation is too slow, meaning they will not reach universal coverage by 2030.A girl pumps water from a borehole provided by UNICEF in Borno State, Nigeria.Of the 4.5 billion people who do not have safely managed sanitation, 2.3 billion still do not have basic sanitation services. This includes 600 million people who share a toilet or latrine with other households, and 892 million people – mostly in rural areas – who defecate in the open. Due to population growth, open defecation is increasing in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.Good hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease. For the first time, the SDGs are monitoring the percentage of people who have facilities to wash their hands at home with soap and water.  According to the new report, access to water and soap for handwashing varies immensely in the 70 countries with available data, from 15 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa to 76 per cent in western Asia and northern Africa.Additional key findings from the report include:Many countries lack data on the quality of water and sanitation services. The report includes estimates for 96 countries on safely managed drinking water and 84 countries on safely managed sanitation.In countries experiencing conflict or unrest, children are 4 times less likely to use basic water services, and 2 times less likely to use basic sanitation services than children in other countries.There are big gaps in service between urban and rural areas. Two out of three people with safely managed drinking water and three out of five people with safely managed sanitation services live in urban areas. Of the 161 million people using untreated surface water (from lakes, rivers or irrigation channels), 150 million live in rural areas.(This article originally appeared on www.unicef.org on 12 July 2017) 
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Trafficking in humanitarian emergencies: A largely unattended threat to children

(23 August 2017) CALL FOR COMMENT AND EXCHANGE ON EXPANDING RESEARCH EFFORTS A new UNICEF Innocenti blog sheds light on important evidence and knowledge gaps related to human trafficking in humanitarian settings. One of the most neglected issues in emergencies, trafficking is usually viewed as a pre-existing problem and not as a direct consequence of conflict or natural disaster.
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Uncovering drivers of violence against children in Swaziland

(3 August 2017) A comprehensive qualitative study exploring the drivers of violence affecting children in Swaziland aims to shed light on why violence against children is happening and to make recommendations on what can be done to prevent it. The National Study on the Drivers of Violence against Children in Swaziland report, launched 18 May 2017, identifies key drivers linked to increased risk of violence against children1 – including gender inequality and entrenched social norms preventing disclosure of family ‘secrets’ – and lays out policy recommendations focusing on improving legal frameworks and creating safe protective settings for children.The study follows the Research to Policy and Practice Process (R3P) methodology developed by UNICEF Innocenti’s ongoing Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children, and improves upon it with the collection of new qualitative data on contributing factors of violence affecting children.  The study was carried out by the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with The University of Swaziland, UNICEF Swaziland and with support from the Swaziland Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. The report is a follow-up to the ground-breaking 2007 quantitative national study on violence against children in Swaziland.According to national survey data, violent discipline in the home, which includes physical punishment and psychological aggression, affects more than 88 per cent of all children in Swaziland. The study findings also reveal that sexual violence and bullying affects 38 per cent and 32 percent of children in Swaziland, respectively. The study found that children experiencing one type of violence were more likely to experience other types of violence. One staggering statistic to emerge from the data revealed that for every girl child known to Social Welfare as having experienced sexual violence, there are an estimated 400 girls who have never received help or assistance for sexual violence. The research study assessed different levels of risk at the individual, interpersonal, and community levels. Individually, risk factors varied little across settings. Age and gender were linked to increased vulnerabilities in girls because of biological changes. Orphans and children with disabilities were found to be more vulnerable to all types of violence. Food insecurity and living with three or more other families during childhood years was found to be associated with increased risk for violence in girls as well.Key risk factors for violence affecting children at the interpersonal level include the presence of domestic violence in the home, the quality of relationships between parents and children, financial stress and family structure, as well as the Swazi family and community normative concept of ‘tibi tendlu’, which translates to ‘family secrets.’ The widely accepted notion of keeping family matters private to protect the family or community over the individual was repeatedly cited as a driver of violence and was also found to be a factor dissuading individuals from intervening when they suspect a child is abused. Lack of reporting violence affecting children was also found to be related to a general lack of confidentiality in communities, where some have even faced retaliation after reporting childhood violence.Swaziland is one of the first countries to link drivers of violence to strategies that are highly likely to be effective at preventing violence. The government has established a Multi-Sectoral Task Team (MTTV) to follow up on recommendations and to work with key stakeholders on prevention.The study identifies five key factors that drive violence across all levels of society:Gender norms and inequality,Economic and social policies that increase poverty and inequality,The HIV/AIDS epidemic,Formal and informal systems that inhibit disclosure, access and follow-up on violence experiences and,Family and community norms around ‘Tibi Tendlu’ or secrets.According to the report, these five drivers had the greatest impact on children’s individual vulnerability, on the quality of relationships in the home, school and community, on the capacity of adults to care for children and on community and institutional responses to violence. Based on findings from the study, key policy recommendations were made corresponding to the seven priority strategies found in WHO’s INSPIRE framework.  Under implementation and enforcement of laws emphasis is placed on aligning national education and child protection Acts and banning corporal punishment in all settings. Under norms and values recommendations focus on fostering national dialogue on violence, addressing harmful gender norms and scaling up positive discipline programmes in schools. Within safe environments efforts should directed toward increasing the number of guidance counselors in schools and strengthening community based child protection structures. In the parenting and caregiver support strategy area emphasis is placed on improving parenting and family strengthening skills and awareness of caring for orphans. Under income and economic strengthening recommendations focus on building entrepreneurial skills, scaling up cash transfers and vocational training. In the response and social services strategy area effort should be directed at strengthening case-management, reporting and referral mechanisms and building up child helplines and one-stop service centres. Finally, in education and life skills recommendations call for wider provision of life skills and increasing capacity of teachers for preventing violence. [For a full summary of the recommendations from the study, click here.]Dr. Deborah Fry, a programme director and senior lecturer on child protection at the University of Edinburgh coordinated the study in Swaziland, in consultation with UNICEF Innocenti.  As principal investigator of the study, Fry believes the findings of the report will help persuade policy makers to move forward in efforts to lower risks of violence in Swaziland. “It’s hard to know where to act and what to prioritize to help prevent violence in the first place, so this model is good at identifying which issues are actual drivers of violence,” she said. “Identifying the root causes helps to develop better programs and policies.”Now that the drivers of violence have been established, Fry is confident about Swaziland’s commitment to do something about it. “What’s special about Swaziland is the huge commitment from all different government ministries, which has been a driver for the success of the study and is very promising for future efforts to be made going forward.”Of the key recommendations made from the study, Fry identified implementation and enforcement of laws as especially important. “I hope that this study will be the tipping point to finally passing the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, which includes the extension of the definition of rape to male victims as well as updating and consolidating the law on sexual offences,” she said. “There is a national violence law, but is hasn’t been enforced. We also hope this evidence will help government commit to using the study findings to help form a national strategy for violence prevention. Download the report summary findings 1. Drivers refer to factors at the institutional and structural levels that create the conditions in which violence is more or less likely to occur. Risk and protective factors reflect the likelihood of violence occurring due to characteristics most often measured at the individual, interpersonal, and community levels.. In Swaziland, key drivers include gender inequality and entrenched social norms interacting with risk and preventive factors at the community level and within households. Identifying these factors helps Swaziland move to targeted evidence-based recommendations for continually improving legal frameworks and creating safe protective settings for children.     
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Babies and mothers worldwide failed by lack of investment in breastfeeding

(1 August 2017) No country in the world fully meets recommended standards for breastfeeding, according to a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, a new initiative to increase global breastfeeding rates.The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, which evaluated 194 nations, found that only 40 per cent of children younger than six months are breastfed exclusively (given nothing but breast milk) and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 per cent.Evidence shows that breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers. It is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, two leading causes of death among women.“Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “Breastmilk works like a baby’s first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive.”The scorecard was released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week alongside a new analysis demonstrating that an annual investment of only US$4.70 per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months to 50 per cent by 2025.Nurturing the Health and Wealth of Nations: The Investment Case for Breastfeeding, suggests that meeting this target could save the lives of 520,000 children under the age of five and potentially generate US$300 billion in economic gains over 10 years, as a result of reduced illness and health care costs and increased productivity.“Breastfeeding is one of the most effective – and cost effective – investments nations can make in the health of their youngest members and the future health of their economies and societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “By failing to invest in breastfeeding, we are failing mothers and their babies – and paying a double price: in lost lives and in lost opportunity.”The investment case shows that in five of the world’s largest emerging economies—China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria—the lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per year and US$119 billion in economic losses.Globally, investment in breastfeeding is far too low. Each year, governments in lower- and middle-income countries spend approximately US$250 million on breastfeeding programs; and donors provide only an additional US$85 million.The Global Breastfeeding Collective is calling on countries to:Increase funding to raise breastfeeding rates from birth through two years.Fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions through strong legal measures that are enforced and independently monitored by organizations free from conflicts of interest.Enact paid family leave and workplace breastfeeding policies, building on the International Labour Organization’s maternity protection guidelines as a minimum requirement, including provisions for the informal sector.Implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in maternity facilities, including providing breastmilk for sick and vulnerable newborns.Improve access to skilled breastfeeding counselling as part of comprehensive breastfeeding policies and programmes in health facilities.Strengthen links between health facilities and communities, and encourage community networks that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.Strengthen monitoring systems that track the progress of policies, programmes, and funding towards achieving both national and global breastfeeding targets.Breastfeeding is critical for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals. It improves nutrition (SDG2), prevents child mortality and decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases (SDG3), and supports cognitive development and education (SDG4). Breastfeeding is also an enabler to ending poverty, promoting economic growth and reducing inequalities.In 1990 UNICEF and WHO adopted the Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding in Florence to ensure that all facilities with maternity services fully implemented the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding to support and encourage breastfeeding for new born infants which first appeared in a joint statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF in 1989 on Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: the Special Role of Maternity Services. The Steps as well as the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes became the foundation for the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in 1991.In 2009 BFHI was updated taking into account the experiences from the first 15 years of implementation and the guidance on infant feeding among mothers infected with HIV. In 2012, the 194 countries of the World Health Assembly committed to a target of increasing the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life from a baseline of 37 per cent to 50 per cent by 2025. About the Global Breastfeeding Scorecard - The Scorecard compiles data from countries all over the world on the status of seven priorities set by the Global Breastfeeding Collective to increase the rate of breastfeeding. The 23 countries that have achieved exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 per cent are: Bolivia, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Micronesia, Federated States of Nauru, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, São Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Zambia.About the Global Breastfeeding Collective - Co-led by UNICEF and WHO, the Global Breastfeeding Collective’s mission is to rally political, legal, financial, and public support for breastfeeding, which will benefit mothers, children, and society. This press release was originally published on www.unicef.org/breastfeeding  
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Children on the move from Africa do not aim for Europe, UNICEF study shows

(26 July 2017) Children on the move into Europe from Africa take the decision to leave home on their own and do not initially intend to go to Europe. For the majority the systematic trauma and abuse they witnessed or suffered in Libya caused them to flee to Europe and take the terrifying Central Mediterranean sea route, according to a new study (download right) commissioned by UNICEF and carried out by REACH. As many as 75 percent of the refugee and migrant children interviewed in Italy as part of the study, took the decision to embark on the journey alone. The journey itself can take a staggering two years or more for children. One of the key reasons children give for leaving home was violence at home but also deprivation and conflict. Child marriage was also reported as the main reason for leaving by 1 in 5 of all girls interviewed. Children’s journeys to Europe were often fragmented and their destination changed along the way.“What is striking about this study is it shows for the first time that there are overwhelmingly far more reasons that push children to leave their homes, than has been previously understood, and fewer pull factors that lure them to Europe,” said Afshan Khan UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. The aim of the study is to provide decision makers, partners and governments with evidence on what drives children to flee their countries and homes. The interviews were conducted in the two main gateways into Europe – Italy and Greece – with a total 850 children, between the ages of 15 and 17 years old.  UNICEF Innocenti has recently begun a new research project Children and Migration: Rights and  resilience which emphasizes child rights-sensitive inquiry to explain the intricate dynamics not captured by more general research. The latest version of UNICEF Innocenti's Research Watch has also focused on child migration bringing together top world experts to discuss the research agenda for migrant and refugee children.Refugee and migrant children in Italy unanimously reported their time in Libya as the most traumatising part of their journey on land. Almost half of them (47 per cent) reported to have been kidnapped for ransom in Libya, and one in four children (23 per cent) reported to have been arbitrarily arrested and held in prison without charges. The majority come from various countries in sub-Saharan Africa but some are from as far afield as Bangladesh.“For those who did aim to come to the continent, the allure of Europe was the chance of furthering their education, respect for their rights and getting ahead in life. However once they reach Europe the reality is sadly quite different and their expectations are shattered,” said UNICEF’s Afshan Khan. Mohammad, 17, (left) from Kafuta, Gambia sits by a pond in a park in Pozzallo, Sicily, Italy, during a walk around town to take a break from their accommodations at the asylum seeker reception center, known as a Hot Spot. In Greece the survey showed that one in three parents or caretakers said that seeking education for their children was the main reason they left their countries for Europe. However the survey of refugee and migrant children revealed that lengthy procedures and confusion about their rights have led to many children dropping out of the Italian and Greek reception systems, losing out on education and exposing them to high risks of abuse and exploitation.Of the 12,239 children who arrived in Italy in the first six months of this year, 93 percent travelled alone.As outlined in the study, the profiles of children arrived in Italy and Greece vary significantly. Children in Italy tend to have made the decision to migrate individually (75 per cent of interviewed children) and are mostly unaccompanied, boys, aged 16 to 17. In Greece, children tend to have taken a joint decision within their family and arrive with family members (91 per cent of interviewed children), at an almost equal level between boys and girls, and from all age groups. At the recent G20 and G7 summits, UNICEF urged governments to take action to protect child refugees and migrant as part of its six-point plan of Action for Children Uprooted which calls for the protection of every child uprooted by war, violence and poverty. The plan calls on governments to:Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence;End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating, by introducing a range of practical alternatives;Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status;Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services;Press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants;Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.(This press release was originally published on the www.unicef.org press centre)
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