UNICEF Programme in the North Caucasus Activity Report No. 111

Situation Report
Originally published

During the reporting period, UNICEF's Programme in the North Caucasus received a contribution of $637,755 from ECHO, earmarked for the Water production and distribution project in Grozny (Chechnya). Consequently, as of 31 August 2006, out of a total revised requirement for 2006 - as outlined in the inter-agency Transitional Workplan for the NC - of $6,830,000, some $5,520,094 (i.e. 80.8%) have been 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. The organization hopes that additional donors will contribute in the near future, so as to ensure the smooth continuation of its well-established programme throughout 2006.


Physical rehabilitation of education facilities in Chechnya

On 16 August, the UNICEF Education team conducted an assessment trip to Sunzhenski and Sharoiski districts of Chechnya, with the aim of verifying the status of school premises in Sernovodskaya and Sharoi villages, conducting a rough estimate of the scope of work and funds needed for their rehabilitation as well as discussing the proposed work with local authorities and communities. On the basis of the information obtained, UNICEF and its implementing partners have developed the relevant scope of work and are about to launch the rehabilitation project, which will be completed by the end of the year, with financial support form the German National Committee for UNICEF.

IDP children integration in Ingushetia

The UNICEF education team also visited several IDP settlements in Malgobekski and Sunzhenski districts, so as to monitor the process of integration of IDP children from Chechnya into the mainstream schools of Ingushetia. All meetings and interviews with parents, settlement managers and children confirmed the positive development of the integration process. Local education department representatives were also invited to attend those meetings, during which parents and children were assured that all IDP students would be accommodated in existing schools by 1 September. During the monitoring visits, UNICEF also found out that the number of children ready for integration was lower than expected, due to the steady return of families to Chechnya and the growing (though still insufficient) availability of education opportunities for returnee children in the republic.

In order to facilitate the process of integration, UNICEF agreed with the Ingush MoE to support the physical rehabilitation of one building (6 classrooms) in secondary school n. 2 in Karabulak as well as the refurbishment of the laundry/shower rooms in boarding school n.1 in Nazran. Within the integration preparatory process, meetings were also held by UNICEF with UNHCR and Vesta, with a view to ensuring the best possible safeguard of the IDP children and families' protection needs and avoid any possible misunderstanding/ misinterpretation of the integration efforts.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers in Chechnya

The 25 ECE centers managed by UNICEF - with financial support from ECHO, the German National Committee for UNICEF, US/BPRM, the Netherlands and Sweden - continued to provide education and care to some 1,250 vulnerable pre-school age children living in rural areas of Chechnya. New children were selected during summer so as to replace those who were going to join primary school on 1 September. The programme is highly appreciated by both education experts and parents, as it constitutes the only existing pre-school education opportunity for local children.

Inclusive education

In August, UNICEF and the Moscow-based NGO 'Perspektiva' agreed to conduct (in November) two trainings for 50 policy makers, administrators, teachers and parents dealing with the inclusion of disabled children and adolescents in the education system in the NC. Participants will thus learn about specific problems and stigmas; how to cope with them; ways to include children into the mainstream school and kindergarten environment; how to ensure minimum physical accessibility standards for disabled children, etc. Participants will come from Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, where UNICEF plans to work in the area of inclusive education in 2007.

Peace and Tolerance Education (PTE)

During the reporting period UNICEF, with financial support from Sweden and Canada, signed several Project Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) with local NGOs from Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Chechnya, so as to sustain the implementation of the regional PTE programme in the republics of the NC. In addition, the existing Mobile Trainers Groups and the Information/Methodology Centre 'Genesis' developed, with technical assistance from UNICEF, their plans for the new academic year (September 2006-June 2007). In mid-September, UNICEF and its implementing partners will also hold an evaluation and planning workshop in Pyatigorsk. Meanwhile, the MoE of Chechnya submitted to UNICEF a letter request financial assistance for the continuation of the "Peace Theatre" project in Chechnya. UNICEF agreed to support the initiative until the end of 2006.


Promotion of child rights

Within the reporting period, UNICEF continued, through local implementing partners, to deliver trainings aimed at raising the awareness on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) among professionals working with and for children. In particular, trainings have been conducted for teachers, social workers and district administration officials from Grozny and Kurchaloevskyi districts of Chechnya, covering a total of 180 participants. Each of them committed to organize a one-day training for the children living in their respective communities.

The process of procuring IT equipment and office furniture for the offices of the Child Rights Ombudspersons (CRO) in Dagestan and North Ossetia-Alania, as well as for the Child Rights Unit established within the Human Rights Ombudsperson's office in Chechnya, has been accomplished and the items will be shortly delivered to the beneficiaries.

Mine Action (MA)

On 31 August, the monthly Mine Action coordination meeting was convened and chaired by UNICEF, with the participation of governmental partners, ICRC, OCHA, UNDP, Voice of the Mountains (VoM), Let's Save the Generation (LSG), the State Chechen Drama Theatre, the Republican Clinical Hospital, Grozny's Prosthetic Workshop and others. Statistic update on Mine/UXO casualties was provided by UNICEF to the meeting participants.

UNICEF continued to further support, through its local implementing partners, its longstanding MRE programme for the general population of Chechnya. A series of MRE presentations were delivered by the Voice of the Mountains' instructors to children attending UNICEF established leisure centers in Achkhoy-Martan, Gikhi, Shalazhi districts. In August, a total of 1900 beneficiaries participated in the training sessions, which were funded by ECHO as well as the Dutch and UK National Committees for UNICEF. In addition, the State Chechen Drama Theatre and LSG organized MRE drama presentations for children and adults from Shatoiskiy and Vedenskiy districts of Chechnya. During the reporting period, with financial support from the Swiss Government, UNICEF contributed to promoting safe behaviors among some 800 children and adults.

A game called "Mine-Free Life" was successfully organized by LSG, with support from UNICEF and the participation of two Chechen TV Companies, "Vainakh" and "GTR". Representatives of the ICRC, the Ministry of Education and VoM were amongst the judges of the game, which was broadcast by the State Chechen TV.

Assistance to Mine/UXO survivors and children with disabilities

In the framework of its activities - which are aimed at promoting the social integration of children with disabilities - UNICEF, with financial support from Germany, continued to support its vocational training project in tailoring and carpentry for children living in Grozny and Achkhoy-Martanovskiy district (Chechnya). Some 40 children are currently benefiting from the project. The activity is being implemented through the Society for the Disabled.

With a view to improving the psychosocial well-being of disabled children and their primary caregivers, UNICEF continued - through its implementing partner LSG and with financial support from Germany - to support the activity of the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centre in Grozny. Some 34 children are currently attending the centre in the framework of a 3-month support cycle.

Within its Mine/UXO survivor assistance component, and with financial support from the Swiss government, Germany and the Dutch National Committee for UNICEF, the organization continued to provide affected children with prosthetic and orthopedic appliances at Grozny's Prosthetic Workshop. With a view to further improving the capacity of the PW, a one-month training was organized in Makhachkala (Dagestan) for two technicians from Grozny's Prosthetic Workshop, with financial support from Germany.


Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI)

Within its EPI programme, which is mainly funded by USAID and aims at increasing the coverage and quality of the immunization services for children in Chechnya and Ingushetia, UNICEF procured and distributed 9,600 safety boxes to 17 district-based health facilities in Chechnya and 9 health facilities in Ingushetia. These items were distributed to ensure the safe disposal of used syringes, thus allowing health staff to conduct immunization in a safe manner. UNICEF also focused on upgrading the population's awareness of the benefits and importance of immunization, through the distribution of information materials to beneficiaries in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Building trust in and creating demand for immunization services, in fact, is an important aspect of working with the population. During the reporting period, 20,000 posters, carrying important messages for mothers and other primary child care providers, were distributed to primary beneficiaries in various health facilities in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Mother Empowerment Project (MEP)

UNICEF continued the implementation of its MEP, which is conducted in cooperation with the Ministries of Health of Chechnya as well as Ingushetia and is financially supported by US/BPRM and the Netherlands. The project is aimed at raising mothers' awareness on various topics related to breastfeeding, immunization and the early recognition of common child illnesses. During the reporting period, UNICEF, through its training sessions, targeted some 344 resident and IDP pregnant women, mothers and other primary child care providers living in Malgobesky District of Ingushetia. The project has been carried out in the premises of the Central District Hospital by specialists (pediatricians and gynecologists) from the Republican Centre for Disease Prevention. In parallel, UNICEF distributed brochures on breastfeeding to every pregnant woman and lactating mother attending the sessions. In Chechnya, during the reporting period, UNICEF's partner (the Republican Children's Policlinic in Grozny) reached 320 women.

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) that were established by UNICEF, in partnership with the Chechen and Ingush Ministries for Youth Affairs and the NGO 'Genesis'.

During the period 7-28 August, UNICEF organised and conducted, through the Department of Prophylaxis and Prevention Measures of the Chechen AIDS Centre, an information campaign called "Healthy Choice". Training sessions on the prevention of risky behaviour and the promotion of safe reproductive health were conducted on a daily basis - by three professionals who had been previously trained by UNICEF - for a group of 165 adolescents from Chechnya who attended a summer camp in Derbent (Dagestan). Such sessions, which included discussions, films, video spots, games and interactive role plays, covered various issues, including related to HIV/AIDS, other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

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 psychosocial support to people living with HIV/AIDS. Counseling and support were provided to 24 HIV-positive individuals and their family members from Ingushetia. In Chechnya, 50 persons (32 HIV-positive people and 18 family members) addressed the local centre seeking assistance during the reporting period.


Water production and distribution in Grozny

UNICEF, through the Polish Humanitarian Organization (PHO) and with financial support from ECHO, continued to produce and distribute safe drinking water from water pumping bases WNS-1 and K-2 to hospitals, schools, kindergartens and private users in Grozny, for a total of 117,000 beneficiaries. The average water production and distribution capacity reached 703 cubic metres per day. Water was delivered, on a four-route-per-day system and through 20 trucks, to 239 distribution points located in four districts of Grozny, including 35 places in medical facilities, 63 places in educational institutions, 8 TACs, and 133 points in residential area of the city. In addition, the surplus of purified water was carried to additional beneficiaries by two extra-trucks (provided and managed by EMERCOM).

In parallel, UNICEF, PHO and the local water provider (Grozvodokanal) completed the preparations for the planned progressive hand-over to the latter, on 1 September, of the management of the water purification and distribution project at water base WNS-1. The hand-over/take-over Memorandum of Understanding, signed by PHO and Grozvodokanal on 29 August, foresees that WNS-1 with its material resources (including the water reservoirs, 2 water treatment units, spare parts, water tanks and bladders) as well as 8 trucks, will be fully managed by Grozvodokana. A UNICEF-recruited water engineer will continue to closely monitor the process as well as provide all necessary advice to Grozvodokanal.


Provision of psychosocial assistance to conflict- affected children of Chechnya

The final revision of the 'Psychosocial Baseline Study in Chechnya, (stage I: October-November 2005; stage II: March-July 2006), completed by UNICEF through the Russian Charitable Foundation 'NAN', has been finalized by one of the leading psychotherapy institutes of Moscow. The document, which contains all baseline information on the psychosocial situation in Chechnya, the current government psychosocial priorities and existing capacities, as well as recommendations for future intervention, is now being translated into English and will soon be distributed to all interested actors.

In August, in cooperation with the Ministries of Education (MoE), Labour and Social Development (MoLSD) and Health (MoH) of Chechnya, UNICEF completed the process of identification of premises for the two complementary psychosocial networks that are currently being established in the republic, with the aim to assist local conflict-affected children. Premises in Urus-Martanovski and Achkhoi-Martanovski districts have been added to the list. In parallel, through two hired engineers, UNICEF developed the so-called 'defective statements' on the physical state of the premises of all 14 centres envisaged. The selection of a company that will conduct all required renovation works has also been undertaken. In the meantime, UNICEF continued the procurement of the equipment and materials that will be provided to the centres - which will be delivered upon completion of the renovation works.

On 2-6 August, UNICEF organized - in cooperation with 'Harmony', the Saint Petersburg's Institute for Psychotherapy and Counseling, and with financial support from ECHO - the 4th training for trainers on school counseling, targeting psychologists from Chechnya. A group of 22 school psychologists, representing different districts of Chechnya, participated in the training, which focused on 'working with children experiencing loss'. The next raining is planned to take place in November.

All project activities, relating to the establishment of the networks as well as the training of psychologists, have been closely monitored by SERLO. This has been made possible thanks to the financial support provided by USAID. The NGO has also been in charge of supervising the work of all UNICEF-trained psychologists, who have already proceeded to their work, as well as of liaising with local authorities. Since the beginning of the project, more than 240 children - aged 6-14 - have already participated in the work of the two networks, through attending either group or individual sessions conducted by UNICEF-trained psychologists.

Follow-up to the Beslan crisis and provision of psychosocial rehabilitation

On 31 August, UNICEF organised and conducted a commemoration event for the second anniversary of the Beslan tragedy, with the aim to provide the crisis-affected children and their family members with an opportunity to express their gratitude to those who helped them. The event, entitled 'Thank You to All Who Helped Beslan to Live Through Grief', was implemented through the Centre of Ecological Education (Obninsk), in the framework of UNICEF's emotional rehabilitation project and with financial support from USAID and the German National Committee for UNICEF. Throughout the past year, children, parents and teachers were collecting 'thank you' letters and compositions (addressed to all the people, from all over the world, who helped the Beslan community), with the aim of publishing a book. An exhibition of art works prepared by the children of Beslan (drawings and clay works) was also opened during the commemoration event and is currently on display in the school that replaced the destroyed one.

In August 2006, in the framework of the project 'Post-Trauma Rehabilitation of Crisis-Affected Children of Beslan and Their Family Members', jointly undertaken by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education of North Ossetia, 52 crisis-affected children from Beslan completed their rehabilitation cycle in the UNICEF-supported Rehabilitation Centre in Vladikavkaz. The interventions included relaxation, therapeutic games, physiotherapy, oxygen cocktails, stress relief sessions and massage.

During the same period, 107 people received psychosocial and physiotherapeutic support through the 'BINONTÆ' Family Centre in Beslan, which was opened by UNICEF in March 2006, with financial support from the French National Committee. The specialists of the Centre provided individual and group psycho-emotional relief sessions to the children and their parents/caregivers, art lessons and physiotherapy sessions (including acupuncture, laser therapy, electro-sleep and massage).