UNICEF Programme in the North Caucasus Activity Report No. 113

Situation Report
Originally published
1 November - 31 December 2006


During the reporting period, UNICEF's Programme in the North Caucasus did not receive further contributions against the 2006 Transitional Workplan for the North Caucasus (NC). Consequently, as of 31 December, out of a total revised requirement for 2006 - as outlined in the TWP itself - 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, 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 (TACIS programme), earmarked for recovery-oriented interventions in the Health and Education sectors in Chechnya and Ingushetia.


Capacity building of local education systems

During the first week of November, some 90 teachers and methodologists from 4 municipal districts of Ingushetia participated in an upgrading course (jointly organized by UNICEF and the local Teacher Training Institute) on basic subjects for pre-school, primary and secondary education. All participants were awarded formal certificates and will thus be entitled to apply for higher professional grades.

Within the framework of the above-mentioned EU/TACIS-UNICEF agreement, two contracts were signed with the Chechen and Ingush Teacher Training Institutes for the upgrading of some 1,200 teachers and administrators during the December 2006-November 2007 period. From 20-30 December 2006, some 50 teachers attended training courses in Chechnya (on biology and Chechen language), while 150 teachers and MoE staff were trained in Ingushetia (on physics and school administration). All participants received certificates issued by their respective Ministry of Education (MoE).

IDP children integration in Ingushetia

In November, and as a follow-up to the recent IDP children's integration into the mainstream schools in Ingushetia, UNICEF - on the basis of the findings of a monitoring exercise carried out in 10 schools and 6 spontaneous settlements - procured and distributed winter jackets and shoes to allow 76 vulnerable children attend classes during the cold season. The distribution was facilitated by the local NGO Vesta and the local school administrations. Funds were provided by the German National Committee for UNICEF. In addition, UNICEF also carried out the rehabilitation of one building (for 6 classrooms) in secondary school n.2 of Karabulak and the refurbishment of two classrooms in boarding school n. 1 in Nazran (both Ingushetia) - again with financial support from the German National Committee for UNICEF.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers in Chechnya

The hand-over process of all 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) - for the provision of pre-school education and care to 1,250 children aged 5-6 - was launched and completed by UNICEF, in coordination with its local partners and school administrations. As a result, since January 2007 the 25 centres have become "Zero Grades" classes, fully integrated in the education system of Chechnya. UNICEF provided additional support to the schools hosting the centres through the provisions of some furniture, textbooks, reading books, stationery, toys and games. The Chechen MoE will continue to provide salaries and methodological support to the teachers working in the centres, while UNICEF will be constantly monitoring the situation in the centres themselves even after their official hand-over.

Inclusive Education

On 27-31 November, UNICEF, in partnership with the Moscow-based NGO 'Perspektiva' conducted two trainings for 50 policy makers, administrators, teachers and care givers dealing with disabled children and adolescents, so as to promote their inclusion in schools and other education institutions in the NC. During the trainings, representatives from the Ministries of Education, Health as well as Social Protection of Chechnya and Ingushetia learned about key issues related to stigmas and concerns, stereotypes related to the disabled people; barriers and obstacles preventing disabled children's access to regular education; strategies to include children into regular school and kindergartens, etc. Upon completion of the training, all involved ministries and UNICEF agreed to focus on advocating for the rights of disabled children to be included in the regular education system as well as on jointly implementing 5 pilot projects in as many schools in each of the two republics.

Vocational training in Chechnya

120 young people have completed, thanks to the financial support provided by ECHO, a 6 month course in carpentry and tailoring and have passed a proficiency exam in December - facilitated by the local department of education. Graduation certificates issued by UNICEF and the implementing partner SERLO were granted to the beneficiaries. UNICEF, in cooperation with the Youth Committee and the MoE, will be monitoring and facilitating the job search (or continuation of education in technical schools) by the graduates.


Promotion of Child Rights

On 13-15 November, with a view to strengthening the existing child protection system in the republics of Chechnya, North Ossetia-Alania and Ingushetia, UNICEF, in cooperation with the Humanitarian Politological Center "Strategy" (St. Petersburg), organized and facilitated the third module of a training programme on child rights for government and NGO partners from all republics. The participants, who represented the Chechen Ministry of Justice, the State Youth Committee for Chechnya, the Human/Child Rights Ombudsman's offices, "Memorial", "Nizam" and the "Chechen Rescue Committee", were provided with an opportunity to learn about new advanced models for the promotion and protection of child rights.

UNICEF also supported the participation of the representatives of Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia-Alania and Dagestan in the conference on "Child Rights in the Russian Federation Today and Future Perspectives", which was held in Moscow on 21 November (jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Development and UNICEF). The conference reviewed the progress made in the RF, following the recommendations expressed by the UN Child Rights Committee in September 2005. Specific attention was placed on the following areas: Juvenile Justice, De-institutionalization, Violence Against Children and Young People's Health.

A two-day workshop/training in Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) for UN programme staff, organized by OHCHR, was attended by UNICEF's Child Protection team on 16-17 November in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia). The training provided a better understanding of recent trends in the development of international human rights standards and practices, as well as skills needed to conduct 'human rights situation analyses' and to effectively integrate HRBA into the process of designing, implementing and monitoring projects.

In addition, and with a view to promoting the CRC among teachers, government stakeholders and police workers, a series of 2-day trainings of trainers (ToT) was organized by UNICEF, through its implementing partner 'North-Caucasian Youth Forum', in Grozny as well as Gudermessky and Nojaijurtovsky districts of Chechnya. Approximately 85 officials participated in the workshops.

During the reporting period UNICEF, continued to provide a safe playing environment to children, through the 31 leisure centers established by the organization - with financial support from USAID and ECHO - in various districts of Chechnya. Each leisure center provides some 40-50 children every day with a safe playing environment, where socialization and learning activities (such as Mine Risk Education) are also conducted.

In December 2006, UNICEF, with financial support from USAID, supported the participation of the Chechen Deputy Minister of Health in the 9th Children's Congress on "Community Access and Resources for Everyone" in Washington D.C. (USA). The congress discussed ways to include vulnerable children in the everyday life of their communities. Participants shared ideas on how to develop broad national policies, as well as specific local programmes. The meeting has also discussed ways to clearly understand and protect the civil and human rights of people with disabilities.

Mine Action (MA)

With the aim of further building the capacity of professionals who are directly working with children, Mine Risk Education (MRE) trainings have been organized by UNICEF for primary school teachers from Vedenskiy and Nozhaiyurtovskiy districts (Chechnya). New MRE materials, developed with ECHO's financial support, were also distributed to all participants.

Within its survivor assistance programme, and with financial support from the German and Swiss Government as well as 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 27 children completed their treatment during the reporting period.

At the Psychosocial Centre in Grozny, which is supported by UNICEF through Let's Save the Generation - with financial support from Germany and Switzerland -, psychosocial support is also being provided to mine/UXO-affected children. Some 34 children from Grozny and Shalinskiy district have been receiving 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: 23 children completed their treatment during the reporting period.

In the framework of its activities - which are aimed at promoting the social integration of children with disabilities -, UNICEF, with financial support from Germany and the Dutch NatCom and through its local partner (Society for the Disabled), continued to support a vocational training project in tailoring and carpentry for teenagers living in Grozny, Achkhoy-Martanovskiy and Urus-Martanovskiy districts (Chechnya). Some 60 children completed the course by the end of December 2006.


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 and conducted 2 cycles of training workshops on "Immunization in Practice (IIP)" for MoH mid- and junior-staff. Some 50 immunization professionals were trained during the 5-day training workshops on vaccine preventable diseases, safe injection practices, the cold-chain, immunization planning, monitoring, etc. Two highly experienced trainers from Moscow and S. Petersburg offered opportunities for the participants to increase their understanding/knowledge of all above-mentioned issues.

Mother Empowerment Project (MEP)

UNICEF continued the implementation of its MEP, which is conducted in cooperation with the Ministries of Health of Chechnya and Ingushetia - with financial support from 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 634 resident and IDP pregnant women, mothers and other primary child care providers living in Malgobesky (Ingushetia). The project has been carried out in the Central District Hospital (maternity ward, antenatal clinics and newborn pathology ward) by specialists from the Republican Centre for Disease Prevention. In parallel, UNICEF distributed brochures on breastfeeding to every pregnant woman and lactating mother attending the sessions. During the same period, in Chechnya, UNICEF's partner (the Republican Children's Hospital in Grozny) reached 756 women.

On 15-16 December, UNICEF organised and managed, in close cooperation with the Chechen and Ingush MoHs, a round table to discuss the prevention of iron deficiency anemia among pregnant mothers, Vitamin A deficiency and worm diseases among children in Chechnya and Ingushetia, so as to prepare a joint plan of action (for MoHs and UNICEF) for 2007.

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 Ingush NGO 'Genesis'. During the reporting period the YFCs and YICs' staff focused mainly on conducting thematic sessions for students in Chechnya and Ingushetia, as a follow-up to the information campaigns and social mobilization activity launched for the International World AIDS Day (1 December).

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 64 HIV-positive individuals and their family members from Ingushetia. In Chechnya, 109 persons (60 HIV-positive people and 49 family members) also visited the local centre seeking assistance.


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 pumping base WNS-1) by Grozvodokanal, the 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 409 cubic metres at K-2 and some 290 cubic metres at WNS-1. Water was delivered to 160 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). A specialized engineer also provided support for the installation of new spare parts for the 5 water treatment units utilized in the framework of the project.

By the end of December, UNICEF, PHO and Grozvodokanal completed all preparations for the hand-over to the latter of the management of the management of water base K-2 as well. The official hand-over/take-over procedure, which implies that the whole water project will be fully managed by Grozvodokanal as of 1 January 2007, took place on 28 December 2006. Meanwhile, a UNICEF-recruited water engineer continued to closely monitor the process, provide technical advice to Grozvodokanal and prepare the smooth final hand-over of the second water base. UNICEF also continued to further build the capacity of Grozvodokanal and the Ministry of Communal and Housing Services, through the provision of training opportunities to the agency's personnel and the distribution of furniture, IT and office equipment and stationery.

UNICEF continued to promote its hygiene and sanitary education activities among vulnerable residents of Grozny, as well as to increase their level of awareness regarding the hand-over process. A video spot, produced in cooperation with the local TV, was broadcasted once a week in November and December on the local TV. Moreover, UNICEF printed and distributed 20,000 ECHO-funded posters, carrying messages on safe consumption of water and better hygiene practices, to 55 schools, 21 TACs, 10 kindergartens and vocational schools in Grozny.


Provision of psychosocial assistance to conflict affected children of Chechnya

On 1 December 2006, UNICEF hosted the third meeting of the Steering Committee on psychosocial assistance for Chechnya. The meeting (held in Kislovodsk) was co-chaired by UNICEF and the Government of Chechnya. The agenda included reports by the Chechen Government representatives on issues related to social policy, mental/psychological health and psychology, as well as an overview of the activities of the Chechen Parliament in this matter. The ongoing development of a Republican Programme on Psychosocial Assistance to Children and Families in Chechnya (2008-2012) was also discussed, as were the results of UNICEF's establishment of two complementary psychosocial networks for children - a school-based and a rehabilitation centre-based - in Chechnya. The event was marked by the high-profile participation of officials from the Chechen Government, the Parliament, the UN, as well as local and international NGOs.

The 'Psychosocial Baseline Study' on the psychosocial state of children in Chechnya, which was conducted by UNICEF through the charitable foundation 'NAN' (Stavropol), has been published in late November 2006. About 1,000 copies of the study will be distributed among Chechen government branches/institutions as well as international and local NGOs. The English version of the study will be published and circulated in January 2007. With financial support from USAID, UNICEF has also finished the process of renovation of the premises hosting the two complementary psychosocial networks for children in Chechnya, in partnership with a local construction company.

On 1-4 November and 8-11 December 2006, the third and fourth training in a series of Trauma Counseling trainings for psychologists from Chechnya were organized by UNICEF, in partnership with the Israel Trauma Coalition (Herzog Hospital) in Nazran. A permanent group of 22 UNICEF-selected psychologists, representing different districts of Chechnya, participated in the training sessions, which covered issues related to the treatment of children and their caregivers. A visible progress in the professional level of the participants was reported by the facilitators upon completion of the fourth training.

Meanwhile, the fifth training in School Counseling for Chechen school psychologists took place in Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria) on 7-11 November 2006, with the facilitation provided by 'Harmony', the S. Petersburg-based Institute for Psychotherapy and Counseling. A group of 24 school psychologists took part in the training, which was focused on 'Psychological Counseling of Families'.

Follow-up to the Beslan Crisis and Provision of Psychosocial Rehabilitation

During the reporting period, 50 crisis-affected children from Beslan completed their rehabilitation cycle at the UNICEF-supported Rehabilitation Centre in Vladikavkaz. The activity has been implemented 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. Activities implemented included relaxation, therapeutic games, physiotherapy, oxygen cocktails, stress relief sessions and massage. At the same time, and with financial support from the German National Committee for UNICEF, two qualified psychologists from the R. Wallenberg Institute of Special Pedagogics and Psychology (S. Petersburg) supported the local psychologists in providing counseling to children and their parents, as well as facilitated family- and school-counseling trainings.

During the same period, 334 children and 237 adults received psychosocial and physiotherapeutic support through the UNICEF-supported 'BINONTÆ' Family Centre in Beslan. With financial support from the French National Committee for UNICEF, the specialists of the centre provided individual and group psycho-emotional relief sessions to children and parents/caregivers, including through art/music lessons and physiotherapy.

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 250 children from Beslan took part in the work of the UNICEF-supported Centre of Emotional Rehabilitation in Beslan. The project aims at fostering the emotional healing of traumatised children. Activities included art interventions, game and theatre techniques, painting, embroidery, needlework and modelling of nature scenes.

Following a request from the Ministry of Education of North Ossetia and the Department of Education of Beslan, UNICEF - with assistance from the R. Wallenberg Institute - organised a special training for local psychologists, with the aim of teaching them how to use the 'IMATON' special methodological kits (which had been procured by UNICEF) to identify the level of stress, aggression and anxiety of children.

On New Year's Eve, UNICEF - jointly with the Russian Academic Drama Theatre of Vladikavkaz - organised Christmas presentations for the crisis-affected children from all 8 schools of Beslan. A total of 600 children, together with their parents, had a chance to watch a fairy tale performed by the actors of one of the oldest theatres in the Russian Federation. UNICEF received words of sincere appreciation from the administration of Beslan for providing children with such opportunity.