UNICEF highlights plans for northern Nigeria in 2018

Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

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The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, has held a programme implementation meeting in Gombe state with stakeholders in the health sector to draw up the roadmap of the 2018 implementation of its supported programmes in five northern states.

The states include, Bauchi,  Gombe, Jigawa, Plateau and Taraba states.

It is the first joint meeting in Gombe since the Federal Government and UNICEF started a new five-year Programme, which will be implemented from 2018 to 2022.

Analysing the just concluded UNICEF plan at the end of 2017, the UNICEF says it has made gains by aligning its planning process with that of the government, aimed at addressing the gaps and ensure that subsequent planning process are in line with the government system.

It says during the implementation of the 2017 work plan, the UNICEF engaged the Federal Government in developing the United Nations Development Framework, which formed the basis of UNICEF Country Programme Development.

According to UNICEF, the context and lessons learnt from the country programme implementation are defined in four components to support the Nigerian Government achieve its priority agenda of Sustainable Development Goals, which are Child Survival (Health, Polio, Nutrition, WASH, HIV/AIDS), Basic Education, Child Protection and Social Policy and Gender Equality.

In achieving the new five-year plan, the UNICEF Officer in Charge of the Bauchi Field Office, Mr. Idrissa Yeo, said to maximise its impact, it will in collaboration with donor supported partners adopt a convergence approach as strategy to achieve results.

“This approach will have the potential to amplify the impact of sectoral intervention and to address child rights holistically,” Mr. Yeo said.

Mr. Yeo commended the Gombe state government for the launch of the End Violence Campaign in 2017, as well as the establishment of the Child Rights Act Domestication Committee, which will logically lead to the passage of the Child Rights Act in the state.

He appealed to the  state government to consider some issues to improve the well being of children in the state.

“His Excellency, the Governor should continue supporting the committees and all concerned arms of government to cooperate and enable passage of the Child Rights Law. That all the work plans for the UNICEF Supported programmes be considered, appropriations made for them, and what has been appropriated released for implementation, including release of government counterpart cash contribution for the year 2018 for the sectors of health, nutrition and education,”  Mr. Yeo appealed.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Gombe State Government, Mr. James Pisagih, appealed to UNICEF to reconsider its decision in which it has withdrawn its HIV/AIDS Intervention in the state, so as to facilitate the total eradication of the scourge in the state.

Mr. Pisagih said the intervention had in the past reduced cases of HIV/AIDS from 8.2% to 4%.

On the issue of curbing malnutrition in the state, Mr. Pisagih, who was represented at the UNICEF meeting by the Permanent Secretary, General Duties, Alhaji Usman Mohammed Shamaki, urged UNICEF to look inward and source locally for affordable nutritious feeding to complement the supply of plumpy nuts to eradicate malnutrition in the state.

Bilkisu Pai