By Victor Osae IHIDERO
KADUNA – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday begun its State Engagement Planning (SEP) meeting with the Nasarawa, Niger and Kaduna States government with a focus on UNICEF program for 2018 to 2022. The meeting which is a part of the measures to ensure states government takes full ownership in the planning and implementation of intervention programs for children and women in the intervention states is put in place by UNICEF to ensure mass community participation.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Dr. Amina Muhammed-Baloni, Health Specialist UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, explained that SEP is an initiative to strengthen the program planning processes at the State level.
“This process entails a more in-depth discussion between the State Government Ministries, other partners and UNICEF Field Office, to draw up an annual SEP.
“Focus is on how we can accelerate achievement of results by working together at community, Ward, Local Government Area (LGA) and state levels. The quality of the SEP will dictate how best monitoring of results can be achieved.”
According to her, the reason for the meeting is for sharing and to have an understanding of new engagement process in order to accelerate results- through State Engagement Planning (SEP).
“To identify and agree with partners on convergent LGAs and wards for the implementation of the SEP. To develop the SEP across the key sectors with focus on identified convergent LGAs
At the end of the meeting, a draft State Engagement Plan will be developed, priority convergent LGAs and wards will be identified and that states and partners will have a good understanding of the State Engagement Planning processes”, she said.
It is also expected that both the states and partners will agree on geographical prioritization of list of LGAs with worst indicators (based on deprivation and Child poverty indices) in which UNICEF will support government to deliver services during the next Country Programme period.
The geographical focus under the SEP will have to define the Wards (where possible, Communities) under selected LGAs in which the major UNICEF programme will converge (Education, Health, Nutrition, WASH, Child Protection, HIV and AIDS, C4D).
According to Dr Amina, the Field Office has plans to reach these LGAs and wards in a phased approach starting from 2018 saying “The need for counterpart contributions and higher government allocations to child-related/social sectors to achieve faster progress than before is fundamental”.
On his part, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Niger State, Dr Ahmed Makusidi said the hierarchy of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government in the three states are participating in the meeting, to enable them know all the procedures in order to give every necessary support for the success of the programme.
“We are here to witness the plan so that we can be engaged from the commencement to the end, so that when our desks officers are not applying for its execution we will know”, he said.