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Training UNICEF experts to support more effective use of public resources for children

Group photo of participants during week one of the PF4C workshop hosted by UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy.

(28 Sept 2017) Nearly 100 UNICEF staff, managers and specialists from 62 countries recently gathered at UNICEF Innocenti in Florence for two one-week workshops on public finance for children. The workshops aimed to enhance staff knowledge on public budgeting and finance management and to build skills to advocate, design, and oversee technical support for publicly financed programmes for children. After the training, participants will be better equipped to help strengthen public finance management systems with the ultimate goal of sustaining and scaling up programme results, particularly for the most vulnerable children and their families.

UNICEF Innocenti, in collaboration with Oxford Policy Management, hosted the back-back five-day workshops from September 18 – 29, 2017. The workshops are part of a broader training mandate to educate programme and management staff to make public resources work more effectively for children.

Participants during week one of the PF4C workshop hosted by UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy.

“With many more countries joining the category of ‘middle income status’, and thus becoming more reliant on domestic resources, UNICEF needs to have the capacity to leverage these resources for children,” said Waithira Gikonyo, Senior Learning Advisor for UNICEF and training focal point for the public finance for children workshops. “We also hope the participants will have developed the ability and confidence to advocate for increased and improved public investments in services for children.” She cited the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Addis Ababa Financing for Development Agenda, both of which call for increased investments to achieve the global goals, as motivators for why UNICEF staff should be developing the capacity to advocate for greater investments for children.

UNICEF Innocenti’s Chief of Social Policy, Jose Cuesta, presented on his latest research initiative which integrates public finance, multidimensional child poverty, and fiscal incidence analysis as part of a new analytical framework which he terms ‘commitment to equity for children,’ or ‘CEQ4C.’ This new framework aims to integrate measurement, diagnostics and policy analysis of equity in public finance in order to more effectively fund interventions for children.  According to Cuesta, the commitment to equity framework is a natural link to public finance for children because it builds from the best practices of fiscal incidence analysis and provides a child equity lens for public finance.

Jose Cuesta, Chief of Social Policy at the Public Finance for Children workshop held in Sala Brunnelschi, Ospedale degli Innocenti, Florence, Italy.

“Participants are shown that different strands of work that UNICEF does separately can be combined and integrated consistently to address more effectively questions they face every day in regards to right investments for children, multidimensional child poverty, effective interventions, monitoring and evaluation, among others,” said Cuesta.

Cuesta presented findings from preliminary applications of the commitment to equity for children approach from Uganda and Guatemala, and hopes to garner interest from seminar participants to expand research in other countries. “Uganda and Guatemala are the first applications of CEQ4C as proof of concept,” he said. “We need more countries, ideally from each region, to fully develop the framework, refine the engagement process with local counterparts and analyse specific policies in concrete contexts. Any country is welcome to join.”

Naomi Mbaya, Finance Officer for UNICEF’s Nigeria programme, participated in the workshop because it was “relevant in achieving equitable results for the Nigerian child.” “The importance of the course work cannot be overemphasized,” she added, “as this has enhanced skills in evaluating and analysing public expenditures for children.”

Participants during week one of the PF4C workshop hosted by UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy.

Carmen van Heese, Emergency Advisor for the UNICEF East Asia region based in Bangkok, Thailand, attended the workshop in order to bridge the gaps in budgeting and finance solutions for emergency responses.  “Responding to the needs of children remains a cornerstone of UNICEF’s work in emergencies, especially in East Asia and the Pacific,” she said. “UNICEF’s approach has evolved more into strengthening systems and engaging with governments on best practices, system building and technical cooperation. In order to do this better, we need to speak the language of public financing, especially for how to budget for humanitarian assistance.”

The public finance management for children workshop is part of a training course that also includes online e-learning training components with UNICEF’s free learning and development platform, AGORA. The hands-on training enables participants to explore case studies and scenarios to tackle budget and public finance management problems specific to the context of their country programs.

For more information on public finance for children (PF4C):