THE REP’S NOTE
2017 was a challenging year for children in Niger. Their survival, development and well-being continued to be threatened by acute and persistent humanitarian emergencies, rapid population growth, climate change, and long-standing social inequalities.
However, the Government of Niger made progress in building an enabling environment for children’s rights and providing basic social services. The Government’s five-year Economic and Social Development Plan was finalized in 2017 with technical support from development partners. Key issues were addressed in the national plan, most importantly girls’ education, child health and nutrition, and women’s empowerment in rural areas.
As UNICEF, we maintained our commitment to saving children’s lives, protecting their rights and helping them achieve their full potential. In 2017, our efforts led to significant results for children and we are happy to share these in the following report. To mention a few, UNICEF and development partners were able to:
- Advocate strongly for children’s right to education, leading to the Government’s signature of the ‘10 Commitments to Promote Girls’ Education’, and a presidential decree to raise the age of compulsory education for girls to 16 years;
- Influence the Government to sign a protocol with the United Nations (UN) for the systematic release of children deprived of liberty for alleged association with Boko Haram;
- Strengthen the enabling environment to tackle the country’s high levels of malnutrition by supporting the development of a multi-sectoral nutrition plan of action;
- Reach more than 2.6 million children under 5 or 91 per cent of the target with preventative malaria treatment, an intervention that also combined malaria prevention with screening for severe acute malnutrition. More than 316,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition across the country, exceeding the initial target of 309,000 children;
- Mobilize a cumulative total of 444 (including 150 communities in 2017) out of 794 villages – 56 per cent of the target – to publically declare an end to harmful cultural practices against women and children, including child marriage.
As we move forward in 2018, UNICEF will continue to work closely with the Government, UN agencies, NGOs, civil society, private sector, communities and families to put children at the centre of humanitarian assistance and development efforts. We strongly believe that every child in Niger deserves to thrive, learn, and grow up in safety and peace, and we all need to come together to make this happen.
With my sincere thanks,
UNICEF Representative in Niger