UNICEF Programme in the North Caucasus Activity Report No. 112

Situation Report
Originally published
1 September - 31 October 2006


During the reporting period, UNICEF's Programme in the North Caucasus received a contribution of $500,000 from USAID, earmarked for its Psychosocial rehabilitation project in Chechnya and North Ossetia. Consequently, as of 31 October 2006, out of a total revised requirement for 2006 - as outlined in the inter-agency Transitional Workplan (TWP) for the NC - of $6,830,000, some $6,020,094 (i.e. 88%) 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.

In addition, and outside the framework of the 2006 TWP, on 9 September UNICEF signed a €9.5 million-contract with the European Commission (TACIS programme), earmarked for recovery-oriented interventions in the Health and Education sectors in Chechnya and Ingushetia. The activities foreseen in the agreement, which will be implemented over a 30-month period (September 2006-March 2008), include the provision of education, medical and sport equipment to schools, as well as the training of teachers and other education officials from the two republics.


Physical rehabilitation of education facilities in Chechnya

On the basis of the information obtained on the ground, UNICEF and its implementing partners developed the precise scope of work endorsed by Chechen and Ingush Ministries of Education and launched the project, which will be completed by 20 December, with financial support form the German National Committee for UNICEF. A primary school in Sharoy, a secondary school (n. 54) in Grozny and school n. 2 in Sernovodskaya will be rehabilitated, so as to decrease the number of daily class shifts from three to two. In Sharoy, in particular, the rehabilitation of the local school will allow parents to stop having to send their children to the lowlands, where they used to stay with relatives and attend local schools.

IDP children integration in Ingushetia

In September some 800 IDP children were successfully integrated into mainstream schools in Ingushetia. Around 60% of the students started the new academic year in Sunzhenski district, where the majority of Chechen IDPs are residing, while some 20% remained in Nazranovski district and another 20% in Malgobekski district. In order to facilitate this hand-over process, UNICEF distributed 460 sets of school furniture to increase the reception capacity of local schools and requested the local NGO 'Youth Forum' to conduct additional training on peace and tolerance promotion in the hosting schools. In addition, some 600 sets of school stationery were distributed among the IDP children who have been integrated into the local schools. Based on the information provided by the Ngo 'Vesta', UNICEF finalized the list of the most vulnerable IDP children who will benefit from the procurement of school uniforms and winter shoes in November.

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. After the first month of classes the new children were closely monitored and tested by the pedagogues; basic observations made are as follows: some 90% of children do not speak Russian and have very basic skills in Chechen language; most of them have a vague understanding of concepts such as "You can..." and "You can not..." behavioral models; logical thinking patterns are very weak. Based on such findings and consultations with parents, the teachers are preparing their classes, according to the individual level of readiness of every child attending the centres.

The "Zero Grade" model introduced by UNICEF through these centres, with the full support of the Chechen MoE, was praised by UNICEF's Regional Early Childhood Development and Education Advisors, who visited the region to advise the Country Office on future priorities for its Education and ECD projects. During the visit, useful meetings were held with the parents of the children attending the centers, as well as with MoE officials. The latter agreed to continue to provide suitable premises, as well as to cover teachers' salaries, for another 25 ECE centers that will be established by UNICEF, in the mountainous areas of the republic, in 2007. In addition, a combined approach to the education of young mothers in better parenting skills, child health and hygiene was also agreed during the mission.

Capacity-Building of the Education Systems

During the last week of October, some 90 teachers of basic subjects attended 10 days upgrading course implemented by the local Teacher Training Institute and supported by UNICEF in Ingushetia. This activity will be followed up by a larger-scale series of teacher trainings for another 600 education specialists in Ingushetia in 2007, within the framework the new EU/TACIS-UNICEF agreement. In addition, one school cabinets for physics, a judo carpet, a boxing ring, 2 tennis tables and 8 training machines have been procured and established in the schools of Ingushetia within the same EU-UNICEF programme.

Peace and Tolerance Promotion (PTP)

In mid-September, UNICEF and its PTP implementing partners held an evaluation and planning workshop in Pyatigorsk. All partner NGOs (League for Protection of Mother and Child from Dagestan, North Caucasus Youth Forum from Ingushetia, Caucasian Rainbow from North Ossetia and SERLO from Chechnya), together with UNICEF, discussed the progress achieved and lessons learnt during 2006 and agreed on the key sectoral objectives and strategy for 2007.

In September, a new edition of the UNICEF-supported PTP newsletter for children and youth in NC was printed and distributed in 4 republics. The participants of a recent UNICEF PTP summer camp could thus share their impressions on the content of the programme, as well as the relationships they established with their peers during the event. In addition, NC pedagogues expressed their views on the integration of PTP in the formal education system. Parents were also provided with an opportunity to compare the behaviour of their children before and after their participation in the summer camp. Meanwhile, the UNICEF-supported team of experts from 5 NC republics is finalizing their inputs for the publication of the first 'P&T Encyclopaedia' for the NC.


Promotion of Child Rights

With a view to strengthening the capacity of the Child Rights Ombudsperson's (CRO) offices in the North Caucasus to address key child protection issues/concerns, UNICEF supported, with financial support from the US Fund for UNICEF, a five-day study tour to Austria for the CROs from North Ossetia-Alania and Dagestan, as well as for the Head of the Children and Women's Rights Unit from the Human Rights Ombudsperson's office in Chechnya. The participants were provided with the opportunity to get acquainted with the daily activities of the Child Rights Ombudsman of Vienna city, and to draw lessons that could be applicable in their work in the North Caucasus.

In addition, during the reporting period, a three-day workshop on monitoring and reporting on child rights violations was organised by UNICEF, with financial support from the US Fund for UNICEF, for human rights NGOs working in Chechnya as well as local Child/Human Rights Ombudsman's offices. The workshop, which was facilitated jointly by UNICEF and the "Strategy" Politological Center from St. Petersburg, targeted participants from Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Pyatigorsk. In parallel, UNICEF also supported the participation of the Human Rights Ombudsperson for Ingushetia in a six-day 'Monitoring of Human Rights' workshop in Sochi. During the reporting period, UNICEF also continued, though local implementing partners, to organize trainings on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) for 195 Chechen Government officials, including district administrations of Gudermesskiy and Naurskiy districts, police workers and secondary school teachers.

Mine Action (MA)

UNICEF continued to coordinate Mine Action-related activities in the North Caucasus, including through monthly interagency meetings. The meeting convened on 29 September was devoted to reviewing the on-going activities, as well as to planning future Mine Risk Education (MRE) sessions to be conducted by the Danish Refugee Council and UNICEF/Voice of the Mountains in all mine/UXO-affected districts.

UNICEF, with financial support from ECHO, continued to strengthen the MRE school course through one-day trainings for teachers, organized and delivered by Voice of the Mountains. A total of 154 teachers benefited from the trainings in Groznensko-selskiy, Urus-Martanovskiy, Vedenskiy and Achkhoy-Martanovskiy districts of Chechnya. In parallel, VoM continued to deliver MRE presentations for affected communities in the above-mentioned districts, thus covering some 1,750 children. MRE drama presentations have also been organized by UNICEF, with financial support from the Swiss Government, for children living in Vedenskiy, Shatoiskiy and Sharoyiskiy districts of Chechnya. A group of 20 children from the same districts has been also trained in staging techniques by actors from the State Chechen Drama Theatre. Upon receipt of decorations and stage costumes from UNICEF, these children will start organizing MRE drama presentations for their peers.

During the reporting period, and with financial support from ECHO and through its 15 data gathering monitors, UNICEF continued to closely monitor the mine/UXO incidence trend. Two new incidents have been reported in October, thus reaching a total of 26 casualties in 2006. Children from affected communities continued to spend their free time at the 31 leisure centers established by UNICEF with support from USAID, ECHO and Germany. Different entertaining programmes are being organised by local NGOs for the children in the centers.

With the aim to further sensitize local authorities and media on the mine/UXO threat in Chehcnya, UNICEF, with financial support form ECHO and in partnership with Voice of the Mountains as well as the State Chechen Youth Committee, organised a one-day "Chechnya without Mines" festival in Grozny. Students of high schools and colleges participated in the event, which focused on the impact of landmines and UXO on the life of children. The event has been broadcast by the Chechen TV channels 'Grozny' and 'Vaynakh'. In addition, a new TV film on MRE has been produced by UNICEF, with ECHO's financial support, and will be shortly broadcast in Chechen by the local TV channels 'Vaihakh' and 'GTRK'.

Assistance to Mine/UXO Survivors and Children with Disabilities

Within its survivor assistance programme, and with financial support from Germany and the Dutch National Committee for UNICEF, the organization continued to provide child mine/UXO survivors with prosthetic and orthopedic appliances, in partnership with Grozny's Prosthetic Workshop. A total of 14 children completed their treatment course within the reporting period. With a view to improving the provision of physical rehabilitation to children with disabilities, a 1-month training has been organized for three technicians from Grozny's Prosthetic Workshop, with financial support from Germany, at the Albrekht Institute in St. Petersburg.

At the Psychosocial Centre in Grozny, which is supported by UNICEF through Let's Save the Generation - with financial resources from Germany and Switzerland -, psychosocial support has been provided to mine/UXO-affected children. Some 40 children from Shalinskiy district of Chechnya and their caregivers have been receiving psychosocial treatment, through group and individual counseling as well as music, dance, and drawing therapies. In addition, UNICEF also supports the provision of physical rehabilitation to children with disabilities, in partnership with the Republican Clinical Hospital in Grozny. Some 17 children benefited from the programme during the reporting period and received physiotherapy as well as re-amputation operations.

In the framework of its activities - aimed at promoting the social integration of children with disabilities -, UNICEF, with financial support from Germany as well as the Dutch NatCom and through the Society for the Disabled, continued to support its vocational training project in tailoring and carpentry for children living in Grozny and Achkhoy-Martanovskiy district. Some 60 children are currently benefiting from the project.


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 organised the visit of an international consultant with extensive experience in cold-chain system and vaccine storage management. The aim of this consultancy was to provide support and assist the Republican MoHs' immunization programmes in strengthening their cold-chain management systems in Chechnya and Ingushetia. During his mission, the consultant held meetings with representatives of the Chechen and Ingush MoHs (including senior cold-chain managers) as well as a 2-days training workshop in cold-chain management issues for 20 MoHs' staff. The consultant also submitted an updated inventory/mapping of the cold-chain equipment, an assessment of the required and available vaccine storage capacity, technical guidance for the procurement of new equipments and technical recommendations for the further expansion of the cold chain.

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 childhood illnesses. During the reporting period, UNICEF, through its training sessions, targeted some 315 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 450 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) established in partnership with the Chechen Ministry for Youth Affairs and the NGO 'Genesis'. These YICs conducted various activities in Achkhoi-Martan and Grozny of Chechnya and Nazran of Ingushetia, including newsletters' regular (monthly or quarterly) design, publication and distribution, thematic lectures for schoolchildren, talk shows, video spots broadcasting, and training workshops in different high schools and colleges during the reporting period.

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 help were provided to 66 HIV-positive individuals and their family members from Ingushetia. In Chechnya, 71 persons (27 HIV-positive people and 44 family members) also visited 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 base K-2 in Grozny) to hospitals, schools, kindergartens and TACs. In parallel, UNICEF, also with financial support from ECHO, supported and monitored the production and distribution of safe drinking water conducted (from water base WNS-1) by Grozvodokanal, the local public water provider, thus reaching a total of some 117,000 beneficiaries daily. During the reporting period, the average daily water production and distribution capacity reached some 417 cubic metres at K-2 and some 295 cubic metres at WNS-1. Water was delivered to 155 water distribution points (through 12 trucks) from K-2 and to 88 distribution points (by 8 trucks) from WNS-1. Both PHO and Grozvodokanal delivered water, on a four-routes-per-day basis, to distribution points located in all four districts of Grozny, including places in medical facilities, educational institutions, TACs and residential areas of the city. In addition, the surplus purified water was carried to additional beneficiaries by two trucks (provided and managed by EMERCOM).

In parallel, UNICEF, PHO and Grozvodokanal continued the preparations for the planned hand-over to the latter of the management of water base K-2. The whole water project will consequently be fully managed by Grozvodokanal as of 1 January 2007. A UNICEF-recruited water engineer continued to closely monitor the process, provide technical advice to Grozvodokanal and prepare the smooth hand-over of the second water base.


Provision of psychosocial assistance to conflict affected children of Chechnya

On 20-22 September, with financial support from USAID, UNICEF organized in Grozny a three-day conference for local psychologists, facilitated by 'Serlo', UNICEF's local implementing partner. About one hundred people, representing different governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in the field of psychosocial assistance, participated. The main objective of the conference was to provide a platform for the specialists of the region to exchange their experience and methodologies as well as discuss issued relevant to school-based and rehabilitation centre-based psychologists. As a part of the conference, a round table - with participation of UNICEF, the Chechen Parliament, the ministries of Labour and Social Development, Health, Education and Internal Affairs, as well as local experts working in the field - was held on the fist day of the conference, with the aim to discuss the overall psychosocial situation in Chechnya, ideas/opportunities for 2007, as well as the need to develop a long-term republican plan of action for psychosocial rehabilitation of children in Chechnya. On 27 October, UNICEF also chaired in Grozny the first meeting of the Technical Group of the Steering Committee on Psychosocial Assistance in Chechnya, which was dedicated to the development of the Republican Psychosocial Plan of Action for 2007-2010. The ministries of Labour and Social Development, Education and Health were represented at the meeting.

Within the reporting period, UNICEF continued to work towards the establishment of two complementary psychosocial networks for children - a school-based one and a rehabilitation centre-based one. By the end of September, all 14 planned centres had started to address the psychosocial problems of children and their parents in Grozny and 6 more districts of Chechnya: Argunski, Urus-Martanovski, Achkhoi-Martanovski, Shalinski, Kurchaloyevski and Shelkovskoi. So far, 17 UNICEF-trained psychologists have taken up their positions within the centres. As far as the equipping of the centres is concerned, UNICEF, with financial support from ECHO and USAID, continued the procurement and distribution of special supplies/equipment, while small-scale renovation works are underway in some of the centres, with financial support from USAID.

'Serlo' also continued to monitor the work of the centres, provide supervision to the psychologists involved and ensure the coordination of the overall project in Chechnya. In September, its monitors visited each of the 14 centres not less than eight times, keeping records of the activities and reporting them back to UNICEF. Some 400 children from 7-16 were reported to have undergone group and individual sessions during the month.

Follow-up to the Beslan Crisis

In September 2006, UNICEF, with the financial support from the French, UK and German National Committees for UNICEF, continued the implementation of its project 'Post-traumatic Rehabilitation of Crisis-affected Children of Beslan and Their Family Members', through the Rehabilitation centre in Vladikavkaz and the Family centre 'Binontæ' in Beslan, which are both supported by UNICEF. The project is aimed at strengthening the families' capacity to ensure a protective environment for the psychologically-affected children and reduce the effects of their long-term psychological trauma. In the framework of this project, 57 children from Beslan completed the rehabilitation course at the UNICEF-supported Rehabilitation centre in Vladikavkaz, through different techniques (including relaxation, therapeutic games, physiotherapy, oxygen cocktails, stress relief sessions as well as massage). Concurrently, through the Family Centre 'Binontæ', 136 children and 104 parents/caregivers received psychosocial and physiotherapeutic support, including acupuncture, laser therapy and electro-sleep, massage, speech therapy and physiotherapy sessions. Two eminently qualified psychologists from the R. Wallenberg Institute of Special Pedagogy and Psychology (Saint Petersburg) supported the local psychologists in providing counseling to the children and their parents, as well as facilitated family and school counseling trainings.

Thanks to the funds recently received from USAID, UNICEF continued the emotional rehabilitation project entitled 'Thank You to All Who Helped Beslan to Live through Grief', which was rated by the Government of North Ossetia among the most effective ones ever conducted for the crisis-affected children of Beslan. The project, implemented through the Centre of Ecological Education (CEE, Obninsk), aims at fostering the emotional healing of traumatised children. Some 30 special lessons, based on the unique nature-preserving methodology, have been developed by CEE to become the baseline for the project. Within the reporting period, around 160 children have taken part in the work of the UNICEF-supported Centre of Emotional Rehabilitation based at the new school in Beslan. Activities included art interventions, game and theatre techniques, painting, embroidery, needlework and modelling nature scenes.

With the intention to ensure an increased effectiveness of the school psychologists' work, and following a request from the Ministry of Education and Science of North Ossetia, UNICEF provided equipment for the psychologist's cabinets located in each of the 8 schools of Beslan. The list of supplies included furniture, carpets, toys, stationary and relaxation equipment. Such procurement has been made possible thanks to the financial support provided by the German and UK National Committees for UNICEF, as well as the United States Fund for UNICEF.