Decentralization, a new chance for the children of Chin State

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Hakha 22 February 2013 - Invited by Chief Minister of the Chin State, a UNICEF delegation led by Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar, visited Falam Township and Hakha, the capital city of Chin State. The visit coincided with the Chin National Day, 20 February, an event now celebrated after a gap of 20 years. It provided an opportunity to observe progress made in child health, nutrition and education sectors in the poorest state of the Union of Myanmar. It followed a state-level workshop supported by UNICEF on social protection last January.

"The new inclusive and people-centred commitment to development by the Government of Myanmar represents an unprecedented opportunity for children in Myanmar, especially the most vulnerable, through the 5-year State Development Plans,” said Mr Bainvel.

“To make it happen, and not miss this opportunity, it is now important that resources allocated from the Union's budget, prioritize poor States like Chin, and children whose chances of surviving, growing and developing are lower than their peers," he added.

In Falam, UNICEF team discussed new roles played by the township council and elders in identifying their needs, setting their priorities and informing the 5-year State Plan. Among them, the state-run child-friendly schools and early childhood development centers, established with UNICEF’s support, are providing children new opportunities to learn in their ethnic and Myanmar languages through children-centered participatory methodologies.

Teachers have benefited from new training and teaching aid materials as new textbooks have been developed where life skills and lessons on the environment have been introduced. An active parents-teachers association and a trust board encourage community participation.

In Hakha, the new hospital is treating children with recently introduced therapeutical feeding techniques which have resulted in significantly reducing cases of severe acute malnutrition. Anti-retroviral drugs are now available for HIV+ women and children, and the pentevalent vaccine procured by UNICEF is improving immunization coverage and efficiency. A Child Right Township Community raises awareness on children's rights and handles individual cases in cases of discrimination, exploitation, or abuse.

All of these advances were made possible through a greater attention paid to the specific needs, context and resources of the Chin State and the greater say given to State-level authorities in identifying their priorities.

In their meeting, Chief Minister U Hung Ngai and Mr Bainvel agreed on a renewed partnership, emphasizing on building the state-level capacity to develop the 5-year Development Plan and give children center stage. They agreed that decentralization effort in Myanmar is a unique opportunity to place people at the center of development and encourage a comprehensive approach to better protect children and help the most vulnerable survive and develop.

For more information, please contact:

Suleman Malik, Officer In Charge- Programme Communication and Information Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-375527-32,

Sandar Linn, Communication Officer, Programme Communication and Information Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-375527-32,