UNICEF Programme in the N. Caucasus: Activity report no. 114; 1 Jan - 31 Mar 2007

Situation Report
Originally published

During the reporting period, UNICEF's Programme in the North Caucasus did not receive further contributions against the 2006 Transitional Workplan (TWP) for the North Caucasus (NC). Consequently, out of a total revised requirement for 2006 - as outlined in the TWP itself - of US$6,830,000, some US$6,020,094 (i.e. 88%) were received by UNICEF from the following donors: ECHO, the Netherlands, Sweden, USAID, Germany, Switzerland, US/BPRM as well as the German and Dutch National Committee for UNICEF.

In addition, it is worth recalling that, outside the framework of the 2006 TWP, on 9 September 2006 UNICEF signed a €9.5-million agreement with the European Commission (Moscow Delegation), earmarked for recovery-oriented interventions in the Health and Education sectors in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

With regard to the 2007 TWP for the NC, during the reporting period UNICEF received a contribution of US$678,000 from ECHO (earmarked for its Education and Mine Action programmes), as well as US$617,000 (unearmarked) from the Dutch Government. Therefore, out of its total requirement of US$5,920,000, UNICEF has so far received US$1,295,000 (i.e. 22%). The organization hopes that additional donors will contribute in the near future, so as to ensure the smooth continuation of its well-established programme into 2007.


Capacity building of education systems in Chechnya and Ingushetia

Within the framework of the above-mentioned EC-UNICEF agreement, contracts have been negotiated with the Stavropol Teacher Training Institute, Moscow's Teacher Re-training Academy and the Essentuki Branch of Moscow University of People's Friendship for the upgrading of some 600 teachers and administrators during the February-August 2007 period. The parties agreed to focus on thematic areas to which the beneficiaries from Chechnya and Ingushetia have had very limited exposure: state examination for school graduates; profile education in secondary school; pre-school teaching methodologies.


On 12-22 February, the second 10-day training was organized for 50 teachers of Geography and Chemistry in the Lyceum n.1 of Grozny. The training was attended by representatives of Chechen MoE and UNICEF education staff; the significant contribution provided by the EC's special programme was publicly acknowledged by the former. In light of UNICEF's ongoing procurement of school cabinets (including for Biology, Chemistry and Geography), the training sessions focused not only on theoretical aspects of teaching methodologies, but also on the practical skills required to of use the cabinets (also funded by the EC) effectively. In addition, UNICEF offered complementary lectures on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Mine Risk Education, HIV/AIDS prevention and hygiene for children. On 21-31 March, the third 10-day training (also funded by the EC) took place for 50 teachers of History and Social Science in the Lyceum n.1 in Grozny. The Chechen MoE issued graduation certificates - provided with the EC and UNICEF logos -, which will strengthen the teachers' chances to advance in their professional career.


During the reporting period, and with financial support from the EC, some 150 teachers of Physics, Vocational Training and deputy school managers completed an upgrading course on Pedagogy at the local Teacher Training Institute. Another 150 teachers will participate in a similar training exercise in April, according to the timetable agreed by UNICEF and the Ingush MoE.


A total of 100 school managers, heads of district department of education, staff of the Chechen and Ingush Teacher Training Institutes and MoEs attended a 10-day training course organized by UNICEF, with financial support from the EC, at the Moscow Academy for Teacher Upgrading. In addition to technical lectures, the beneficiaries were provided with transportation, accommodation, meals, stationery and methodological literature.

Distribution of education supplies (EC project) to schools in Ingushetia

By the end of February, the sport equipment planned to be procured during the fist year of implementation of the EC-UNICEF Action Plan had been delivered to UNICEF's warehouse in Nazran (Ingushetia). During the month of March, all equipment was distributed to 78 recipient schools in Ingushetia.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers in Chechnya

In January 2007, UNICEF continued to monitor the activities in 25 centers that had been created by UNICEF (with financial support from ECHO, the German National Committee for UNICEF, US/BPRM, the Netherlands and Sweden) with the aim of providing pre-school education and care to 1,250 children aged 5-6, and handed over to the Chechen MoE at the end of December 2006. On 23 January, a joint ECHO-UNICEF mission, accompanied by some media representatives, visited one of the ECE centers (located in gymnasium n.7 of Grozny) to witness the results of the hand-over process. Thanks to the strong involvement of the local parents' committee and the school administration, all activities were being conducted in full compliance with the agreed curriculum and standards.

In January, UNICEF, MoE and implementing NGOs conducted a selection of beneficiaries (5-6 years old children) in the following districts of Chechnya: Itum-Kalinski, Nozhai-Yurtovski, Shatoiski, Sharoiski, Vedenski, Shalinski, Groznenski rural. The aim was to identify vulnerable children for the new 40 ECE centers that were to open in February (for 4,000 vulnerable children), with funding from ECHO, BPRM and the Netherlands. UNICEF also started the procurement of kindergarten furniture and other materials to equip all centers, which have been established in villages where there are no kindergartens and children have no access to pre-education opportunities. The 40 new ECE centres thus opened in the above-mentioned districts of Chechnya in February. UNICEF and its local implementing partners (Berkat and Open Continent) procured 40 sets of kindergarten furniture, consisting of tables and chairs, racks for toys and stationery, wardrobes for children's clothes and shoes. Besides, all centers were provided with the appropriate supply of education materials. Some 4,000 young mothers are also being targeted with better parenting skills, children hygiene and health, MRE and HIV/AIDS education, with technical inputs from UNICEF.

Inclusive Education (IE)

The local NGO Denal and UNICEF started to monitor 7 schools (located in as many municipalities of Chechnya) which have been identified for a pilot project on IE project, due to the high number of disabled children of school age living in those areas. Meanwhile, UNICEF and the Moscow-based NGO Perspektiva agreed to conduct a training of trainers on IE for 20-25 persons in the NC. Upon completion of the 5 day-training, the participants will be able to disseminate their knowledge among teachers, parents and MOE officials, so as to facilitate the process of IE introduction in Chechnya and Ingushetia.


Peace Theatre

On 7 February, a team from UNICEF attended a show performed by the children participating in the Peace Theatre. The initiative, launched in the framework of the Peace and Tolerance (P&T) programme, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education in Chechnya, aims at developing the children's artistic talents and introduce them to the basics of a culture of peace and tolerance.

Peace Club Network

During the reporting period, UNICEF started negotiations with schools to identify suitable premises for the Peace Clubs that are to be established. The project objectives are to improve the children's knowledge in the field of human/children's rights through the promotion of the CRC, increase the children's involvement into various exchange initiatives and contribute to promote the inter-regional youth dialogue.

In March a UNICEF delegation, headed by the Country Representative, made an official visit to Makhachkala (Dagestan), where meetings were held with government officials to discuss the integration of P&T into the school curriculum. The delegation met the President of Dagestan, who expressed his readiness to support UNICEF's ongoing and future initiatives in the republic (Mobile Trainers' Groups, Summer Camps and Peace Club Network). A separate meeting was held with the Minister of Education to negotiate the inclusion of P&T into the curriculum of 56 schools of Makhachkala, starting from September 2007. Another issue raised during the meeting was the future development of Inclusive Education projects. The visit of the UNICEF delegation was widely covered by local media. A press conference was held with participation of key local information agencies.


Promotion of Child Rights

As a result of numerous meetings held by UNICEF in 2006 with Mr. Karamsolt Kokurkhaev, Human Rights Ombudsperson (HRO) for the Republic of Ingushetia, an official letter confirming that two specialists from his office will be appointed as focal points for children and women's rights was received by UNICEF. Plans for future cooperation between UNICEF and the HRO office in 2007 have been discussed afterwards: it has been agreed that UNICEF will provide technical support in building the capacity of the two specialists appointed, including through the provision of training opportunities and basic equipment.

Through the involvement of the Children and Women's Protection Department of the HRO Office in Chechnya (created with UNICEF's support in 2006), UNICEF conducted a quick monitoring of the situation of children in Kurchaloevskiy district who have been recently de-institutionalized and assigned to foster relatives (following the launch, in 2006, of a de-institutionalization process in Chechnya). While 3 social orphanages and 2 rehabilitation centers were previously functioning in the republic, hosting more than 400 children, only 84 children are currently catered for in the rehabilitation center located in Shali. The financial assistance provided to the foster families (in line with Federal Law N.207) amounts to a one-time lump sum of 8,000 rubles per child and a monthly allowances of 6,500 rubles. The Chechen Ministry of Labor and Social Development requested UNICEF's technical support in supporting the transformation of the former orphanages into 'Family Rehabilitation Centers' (along the lines of the model successfully tested by UNICEF in Beslan). Additional monitoring of the situation of the children placed in foster families will be carried out by the District Departments of Guardianship (Ministry of Education of Chechnya).

On 23 March, a round table discussion devoted to the problems faced by disabled children in Chechnya was organized in Grozny by UNICEF and the Children and Women's Protection Department of the HRO office. Presentations on the situation of disabled children were made by Rabu Azdaeva, Chairperson of the Chechen Branch of the National Society for the Disabled, and Adlan Dinaev, Coordinator for Voice of the Mountains. Representatives from the Ministries of Education, Health, Labour and Social Development have also presented their plans/analysis and stressed the need for a more comprehensive approach towards such children and their families. The meeting has also been broadcast by local TV channels.

With a view to promoting child rights in Chechnya, UNICEF also supported the opening of a Child Rights Information Center in Grozny, which is run through the NGO partner 'Let's Save the Generation' (LSG), and aims at supporting the most vulnerable children and families in Chechnya. Legal counseling and support will be ensured to the children and their families by a professional lawyer, who has been working for UNICEF-supported projects since 2004. Children from all districts of Chechnya will have access to such support through regular visits by the NGO to the various districts, in accordance with a schedule made available to the local populations through preliminary announcements. A total of 18 children and their families have already been supported by the Center thus far. TV documentaries on the key child rights issues in Chechnya will also be produced by the Center/LSG, with the aim of drawing the authorities and public opinion's attention towards the critical situation of the most vulnerable children and families in the republic. Currently LSG is working on a documentary on child labour in Chechnya, which should be ready for broadcasting by a local TV channel by end-May 2007.

Mine Action (MA)

UNICEF continued to act as focal point for all Mine Action-related activities in Chechnya. Two meetings with Government officials were organized within the reporting period, including with delegates of the Chechen Parliament and the republican Ministry of Emergencies (EMERCOM). Both meetings discussed actions that need to be taken by the Chechen Government to reduce the mine/UXO (unexploded ordnance) risk for the civilians. The establishment of a Mine Information Centre in Chechnya was also discussed with the parliamentarians, and recognized as an important step in preparing the creation of a Government-led Mine Action Centre.

During the reporting period, UNICEF chaired monthly coordination meetings with the participation of UNDP, the ICRC, Danish Refugee Council, Voice of the Mountains and Let's Save the Generation. The meetings reviewed ongoing activities and discussed follow-up actions to a meeting held in December 2006 with the Chechen President's Administration. The organization of a Mine Action workshop for Chechen officials has been proposed as an option for raising their overall awareness of the problem.

With a view to building the capacity of the UNICEF partner 'Voice of the Mountains' (VoM), a two-week training has been organised for the VoM database manager by the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian De-mining (GICHD), from 5-16 February 2007. The training modules required for the utilization of the latest version of IMSMA (Information Management System, for Mine Action) were provided. The course also covered topics such as 'Introduction to Information Management in MA', 'Information Management for Operations in MA' and others. All training-related expenses were covered by the GICHD, and the new version of IMSMA (4.0) will be installed by a GICHD specialist in June 2007.

With the aim of creating better conditions for child mine survivors (as well as children with other disabilities) to receive quality treatment, UNICEF procured and delivered to the Chechen Ministry of Health 5 multifunctional beds that will be distributed to selected hospitals in need. A set of rehabilitation equipment has also been procured for Grozny's Prosthetic Workshop, which provides treatment to some 200-250 disabled people yearly. Plans for additional training for technicians from the workshop will be shortly finalised by UNICEF and ICRC.

The State Chechen Drama Theatre and VoM continued to raise awareness of the population on safe behaviour on mine-affected territories, through UNICEF MRE programmes (which is supported by Switzerland, BPRM and ECHO). A total of 2,700 children from Vedenskiy, Shalinskiy and Kurchaloevskiy districts attended the interactive drama presentations performed by the theatre actors and the MRE sessions organised by VoM.


Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI)

Within its EPI programme, which is mainly funded by USAID and aims at increasing the coverage and quality of immunization services for children in Chechnya and Ingushetia, UNICEF continued to monitor the EPI coverage situation as well as advocate for the benefits of immunization through conducting meetings with MoH' staff as well as community's representatives (local administrations, mothers and other primary child care providers) in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

UNICEF, in agreement with MoHs of Chechnya and Ingushetia, established a post of cold-chain engineer in each republic, with the provision of financial support against this position's costs for one year. The post will subsequently become an integral part of the republican MoH system and continue to secure the proper maintenance and management of the cold-chain in both republics. Data on the status of the cold-chain in health care facilities in Chechnya and Ingushetia, based on monitoring visits, will be compiled by the two engineers. Such information will be key in ensure proper vaccine storage conditions in the two republics.

Mother and Child health care

Within the framework of the project aimed at strengthening the quality of MCH services in Chechnya and Ingushetia, conducted in cooperation with the Chechen MoH and Ingush MoH and MoE and funded by the EC, UNICEF initiated the procurement of essential medical equipment for 2 hospitals in Chechnya (Republican Children's Hospital and Municipal Maternity Hospital n. 2 in Grozny) as well as of dental and basic medical equipment for 2 dental and 2 medical cabinets in some selected schools in Ingushetia.

UNICEF also launched preparations for the Vitamin A supplementation programme aiming at reducing the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Some 32,000 children aged 6-11 months will be targeted in the course of the year. The Vitamin A will be locally procured by UNICEF, thanks to the support of the Canada's International Development Agency.

Young People's Health, Development (YPHD) and Participation - HIV/AIDS Prevention

In the framework of its YPHD project, which is mainly funded by USAID, UNICEF continued its cooperation with the Chechen and Ingush Republican Ministries of Health, the Achkhoi-Martan District Hospital, the 'Association of Women Doctors of Chechnya' (a local medical NGO) and the Ingush Republican Policlinic. UNICEF and its partners continued to strengthen the work of the 3 existing Youth Friendly Clinics (YFCs), which are aimed at providing access to high quality health services for young people, including counseling on reproductive health, family planning and HIV/STI prevention. Within the same project, UNICEF continued - in cooperation with its counterparts - to work on strengthening young people's knowledge on healthy life styles and positive behaviour, through communication and social mobilization activities as well as information campaigns among young people and teenagers. These activities are implemented through the 3 Youth Information Centres (YICs) established in partnership with the Chechen Ministry for Youth Affairs and the NGO 'Genesis'.

UNICEF also continued to support two Centres - established since last year, in cooperation with the Ingush and Chechen State HIV/AIDS Centres, and funded by US/BPRM - that are engaged in providing medical and psychosocial support to people living with HIV/AIDS and their family members. Counseling and help were provided to 36 HIV-positive persons and their family members from Ingushetia. In Chechnya, 102 persons (60 HIV-positive people and 42 family members) received assistance at the local centre during the reporting period.


Water production and distribution in Grozny

Since 1 January 2007, after the official hand-over/take over procedure, UNICEF, with financial support from ECHO and in cooperation with the Polish Humanitarian Organization's (PHO), continued to monitor the production and distribution of safe drinking water that is conducted by GUP Grozvodokanal (the municipal water provider) and serves 117,000 beneficiaries in hospitals, schools, kindergartens, TACs and urban dwellings on a daily basis. The production and distribution of safe drinking water has been conducted from water pumping base WNS-1 and K-2. During the reporting period, the average daily water production and distribution capacity reached 428 cubic metres at K-2 and 268 cubic metres at WNS-1. Water was delivered to 155 water distribution points (through 12 trucks) from K-2 and to 79 distribution points (by 8 trucks) from WNS-1. Water was delivered on a four-route-per-day basis to distribution points located in all four districts of Grozny. In addition, the surplus of purified water was carried to additional beneficiaries by two trucks (provided by EMERCOM).

Meanwhile, a UNICEF-recruited water engineer continued to closely monitor the production and distribution process managed by Grozvodokanal and to contribute to build the latter's capacity through the provision of technical advice to the agency's personnel. The coordination of the water purification and distribution process has been coordinated through monthly working meetings conducted with the participation of all stakeholders, including Grozvodokanal, PHO and UNICEF.


Provision of psychosocial assistance to conflict-affected children of Chechnya

Within the reporting period UNICEF conducted a special mission to Chechnya, with the aim to monitor the quality of renovation works undertaken with financial support from USAID in 11 (out of 14) premises that host the 2 complementary psychosocial networks for children established by UNICEF (a school-based one and a rehabilitation centre-based one). Eight of them - in Shali, Kurchaloy, Geldagen, Urus-Martan, Argun and Achkhoy-Martan - have been visited. Following the positive assessment of the rehabilitation works undertaken, UNICEF arranged the immediate delivery of furniture, equipment and special materials (procured with financial support from ECHO) to the centres themselves.

SERLO, UNICEF's local implementing partner, continued to monitor the work of the centres and supervise the UNICEF-trained psychologists, as well as coordinate all project activities. In January, February and March, the NGO monitors paid at least 8 visits to each of the 14 psychosocial centres, keeping records of the activities and reporting back to UNICEF. Some 800 children aged 7-16 have undergone group and individual sessions.

In February, following the 3rd meeting of the Steering Committee on psychosocial assistance organised and facilitated by UNICEF in December 2006, a brochure containing the minutes, reports and presentations as well as the outcomes of the meeting has been published and circulated among the Steering Committee participants, including the Parliament of Chechnya. It has been also distributed among UN agencies, NGOs and other parties. A meeting of the Technical Group of the Steering Committee itself, with participation of the representatives from the Chechen Ministries of Labour and Social Development, Education and Health, took place in Grozny on 22 February. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the results of the first stage of preparation of the draft Republican Psychosocial Action Plan for 2008-2012. The development of such programme is regarded by the Government as one of the priorities for the republic and UNICEF is providing technical assistance to facilitate the process. The draft plan was approved by the TG participants and sent to the respective ministries for their review.

On 5 March, a co-ordination meeting with the school directors and heads of institutions hosting UNICEF psychosocial rehabilitation centres took place in Grozny. The methodologists of the regional departments of education, as well as psychologists working in the rehabilitation centres, participated in the meeting and discussed ways to strengthen complementarities among the two networks established by UNICEF. On 26 March, all psychologists working in the two networks met in Nazran to further develop the referral system for children in Chechnya. The session participants were welcomed by Mr. Carel de Rooy, UNICEF's Representative in the Russian Federation, and Ms. Zlata Tashatmirova, the Chairman of the Committee for Women, Family and Children's Affairs of the Chechen Parliament. The seminar was co-facilitated by trainers from the Institute of Psychotherapy and Counseling 'Harmony' (St. Petersburg) and specialists from the Israel Trauma Coalition/Herzog Hospital (Jerusalem).

From 27 through 30 March the 5th training in trauma counseling for psychologists from Chechnya was organised by UNICEF and facilitated by the Israel Trauma Coalition/Herzog Hospital in Nazran. The training, financially supported by ECHO, targeted a group of 22 psychologists representing different districts of Chechnya. At the same time, the 6th training in school counseling took place in Nalchik, again with financial support from ECHO and the facilitation provided by 'Harmony'. A group of 24 school psychologists from Chechnya took part in the training.

Follow-Up to the Beslan Crisis

In January-February 2007, UNICEF - with financial support from the French and German National Committees for UNICEF, continued the implementation of the joint Ministry of Education (MoE)-UNICEF project entitled "Post-traumatic rehabilitation of crisis-affected children and their family members in Beslan". The project is aimed at strengthening the family's capacity to ensure a protective environment for the psychologically affected children and reduce the effects of their long-term trauma. Within the reporting period, 75 children from Beslan completed the rehabilitation course at the UNICEF-supported Rehabilitation centre in Vladikavkaz. The treatment techniques included relaxation, therapeutic games, physiotherapy, oxygen cocktails, stress relief sessions as well as massage.

Concurrently, 300 people have already received psychosocial and physiotherapeutic support in the Family Centre "BINONTÆ", which was also opened by UNICEF in a joint effort with the local MoE. The specialists of the Centre provided individual and group psycho-emotional relief sessions to the children as well as to their parents/caregivers, including acupuncture, laser therapy and electro-sleep, massage, speech therapy and physiotherapy sessions. On 27 March, the Family Centre "BINONTÆ" celebrated its one-year anniversary. An interactive presentation, including a theatre performance and games, was prepared and presented by the specialists in a joint effort with the families attending the centre.

In the framework of its emotional rehabilitation project entitled 'Thank You To All Who Helped Beslan to Live Through Grief', which is implemented through the Centre of Ecological Education (Obninsk) with financial support from USAID, around 660 children from Beslan took part in the work of the UNICEF-supported Centre of Emotional Rehabilitation. The project aims at fostering the emotional healing of traumatised children. Activities included art interventions, game and theatre techniques, painting, embroidery, needlework and modelling nature scenes. Some 80 children have been involved in the realisation of 3 new small projects: 'World of fairy-tales' (theatre for kids), 'Overcoming' (involving disabled children) and 'Work with children from boarding schools'. For 10 days some 50 crisis-affected children and their caregivers took part in a winter camp in Ursdon (North Ossetia), during which they prepared hand-made "Family albums". In January 2007, more than 1,000 wall calendars presenting art works made by the crisis-affected children of Beslan participating in the 'Thank You' project were designed, printed and distributed among government representatives, ministries, donors, UN agencies and NGOs working in the North Caucasus.

On 20 February UNICEF hosted a coordination meeting on psychosocial assistance for Beslan. The meeting was held in the Family Centre established and supported by UNICEF. The main objective of the meeting was to improve the coordination mechanism and try to find ways for the optimisation of the different methods of work used by various organisations in Beslan. The agenda included an overview of the activities of the Ministry of Education and Science of North Ossetia, as well as that of the local and international NGOs active in the area. As a result, the meeting came out with an agreed vision of the psychosocial state of the population, which was later finalised and circulated among all government and non-government organisations. One of the main outcomes of the meeting was a decision to establish a joint coordination body, which will take the responsibility of harmonising all psychosocial activities carried out in the affected community.


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