BUJUMBURA November 29th (ABP) – UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Burundi, Mr. Jeremy Hopkins, congratulated, in Bujumbura on Tuesday November 27, 2018, the Burundian government of President Pierre Nkurunziza for the progress recorded in the child protection from 2010 to 2018.
Mr. Hopkins told the check by ABP at the end of the opening ceremony of the workshop devoted to the review of results achieved in the context of implementing the 2010-2018 cooperation programs between the State of Burundi and the presentation of the priorities of the new cooperation program for 2019-2023.
The cooperation program between Burundi and UNICEF which was subject to evaluation was signed in February 12, 2010 by both parties.
“Despite the persistence of some challenges, Burundi, during the nine years (2010-2018), recorded a lot of progress in all sectors of cooperation with UNICEF particularly that of protecting under-age children which resulted in the decrease of chronic malnutrition and infant death rates”, he said.
Indeed, he explained, from 2010 to 2017, the chronic malnutrition rate for Burundian children has “slightly decreased” from 58% to 56%, and the infant mortality rate has “significantly decreased” in the same period, from 59 per 1,000 births to 47 per 1,000 births. Burundi’s progress on gender issues through equity for access to school is also to be commended, he said, stating that gender parity of 50% girls-50% boys in Burundian primary schools is now already reached.
Mr. Hopkins admitted, however, that in implementing its 2010-2018 cooperation program with Burundi, UNICEF is meeting the challenges related to the capacities of its partners.
“Indeed, for the specific case of Burundi, our country is in a poverty situation and the capacity comes with, hence the mission of UNICEF is to build the capacities of its partners, including the Government of Burundi in decentralized level, to make sure that Burundian children have access to quality services”, he said.
In its cooperation with Burundi, he said, UNICEF focuses on the education sector where it is supporting the Burundian government in schooling children.
“The big challenge of the moment is that Burundi is currently home to 200,000 children out of school. As part of the resolution to that problem, UNICEF is alongside the Ministry of National Education in the actions taken for their inclusion in school, including support in the construction of classrooms and the provision of other school equipment needed in this situation”, he added.
On the question of UNICEF support in the fight against the phenomenon of “dropouts” in Burundi, Mr. Hopkins said that in partnership with the Burundian government and according to the availability of funds, “some students in a state of need “benefit from school equipment to help them stay in school. For him, the existence in Burundi of programmatic components outside education, such as the reactivation of social protection mechanisms, is encouraged by UNICEF to promote access to school, through the fight against poverty.
On the question of what UNICEF values most about its cooperation with Burundi, Mr. Hopkins noted that both partners have a common understanding of the need for implementation of the “International Convention on Human Rights”(CIDE) adopted on 20 November 1989 by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). He took the opportunity to state that “except for the country program that has just ended”, UNICEF spends annually on Burundi a budget of about $ 40 million to support the social sectors.
On the question to know what Burundi and UNICEF will put forward in the new co-operation program envisaged for 2019-2023, Mr. Hopkins suggested that the two co-operation programs, namely the 2010-2018 and that of 2019-2023, are linked by a “bridge” of continuity.
“In fact, there is no radical departure of UNICEF’s current program of cooperation with Burundi, that is to say, we will continue to work on all aspects where we normally work”, he clarified.
With that in mind, he cited three priorities, namely reducing the rate of chronic malnutrition among young children, investing in young people under 18, and strengthening the social protection system with a focus on poverty reduction.