Unicef: briefing & discussion on working relationship with committee

Social Development

29 May 2002
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Meeting report


29 May 2002

Mr E Saloojee (ANC)

Relevant documents
UNICEF Programme of Co-Operation
Social Policy and Local Governance for Child Rights (SPLG)

UNICEF delegation: Mr Jesper Morch - UNICEF representative in South Africa; Ms Rina Gill - Senior Programme Officer; Ms Ntjantja Ned - Project Officer: Social Policy and Governance; Mr Goran Mateljale - Monitoring and Evaluation Officer; Mr Neville Josie - Community Liaison Officer


The presentation by the UNICEF South Africa delegation discussed the various programmes of co-operation being engaged in, and the goals, strategies and main programme areas of these programmes. The key issues, areas of collaboration and activities of the four Basic Social Services projects were also outlined.

The discussion on this presentation highlighted concerns with the importance of child participation in these projects, the current problems facing South Africa with trafficking in children, measures to accommodate children that have already left school and further clarity was requested regarding the rapid assessment process.

The Chairperson opened the meeting by welcoming the delegation from Unicef and sketched the background to the Committee's relationship with Unicef. They had held a three-day workshop with Unicef during the term of the previous Parliament and Unicef had assisted in bringing children to the hearings on sexual abuse of children.

Mr Morch introduced the members of his team and noted that the interaction that Unicef has with the South African is very important. He sketched the background to Unicef by explaining that it had been set up as an emergency fund in 1949a and was originally the United Nations International Education Fund. It had a specific mandate with regard to the assistance to German children and was expected to dissolve by 1953. It carried on working as a children's fund. In 1978, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in 1979 it had implemented the year of the child. In 1979 the process of formulating the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was started and it was ratified in 1989. It has become the most widely ratified document. In 1990 the World Summit for Children was held where 70 world leaders designed the World Action Plan for Children. The UN Special Session for Children in 2002 was to review the progress made by the plan and to work on an agenda for the future. At the Special Session the following were identified for the first time:

· It was agreed that there should be a sharper focus on:
- Promoting (wholistically) healthy lives
- Providing quality education
- Protecting against abuse and violence
- Protecting against HIV

· There should be broad based partnerships not only with governments but also Parliaments, civil society, faith based organisations and CBOs

· There is a need to involve children in their future. Many of the events at the Special Session were run by young people and many of the suggestions came from young people and children.

Within the South African context Unicef would be able to assist in terms of policy and legislation. The Mbeki government has focussed on delivery and this has meant changes in service delivery. In 1997, Kofi Annan advised UN organisations to work within the framework of the country within which they are based. In South Africa, they were advised to concentrate on HIV/Aids and the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy (ISRDP). They work towards government and community development and promote a rights based approach. They have been advised to work in areas such as Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. The new cycle, which runs from 2002 -2007, will introduce these changes in the programmes. They have decided that HIV is a priority and will concentrate on this issue in terms of programmes and resources. He said that they work with a budget of $5 million per year of which $1 million is guaranteed and Unicef and its partners raise the other $4 million. In South Africa, this amount of money is insignificant.

Ms Gill spoke about the current country programme of co-operation in South Africa (See attached document).

Ms Ned addressed social policy and local governance for child rights in her presentation (See attached document).

Mr Masutha raised a concern about organisational and systemic fragmentation and noted that there was a general movement towards integration. He asked whether Unicef had been able to identify clear areas where co-ordination is lacking from an organisational point of view. He wanted to know whether they had thought about why it occurs and about what could be done about it.

Dr Baloyi noted his appreciation for the presentations and asked to what degree children expressed themselves properly rather than expressing what an adult has told them to say. He felt that more strategies should be targeted at adults so that they produce well-adjusted children.

Ms Gandhi thanked the presenters for the information and asked about the existence of programmes in KwaZulu-Natal. She raised a concern about the assistance given to children in terms of school fees as children should be given a free education up to the age of 15 years. She felt that the issue should be pursued further as children should not be victimized. She noted that the focus with regard to day-care seemed to be on resources and not on facilitation and she requested further information. With regard to trafficking of children, she noted that there was no trafficking from South Africa but that it acted as a transit point. She asked if the presenters had any suggestions about dealing with this problem. Ms Gandhi requested further details of the numbers of children out of school.

Mr Morch said that Unicef does not have its own programme but that it supports NGOs and governments in terms of advice and resources. President Mbeki's presidency introduced an integrated approach that clustered departments. It is still problematic as it is not working completely yet. It is hoped that the Municipal Systems Bill will resolve some of those problems especially at local government level. This was the reason that Unicef was lending support to building capacity at local government level and within the ISRDP. With regard to Dr Baloyi's comment, Mr Morch noted that the UN CRC addresses the issue of the participation of children and the need to listen to children. He believed that the process has improved a great deal and that the participation witnessed at the Special Session was genuine. With the issue of HIV/Aids becoming more important, children are becoming the moulders of society as parents haven't or aren't able to deal with the problem. He said that he understood that education was meant to be free as noted in the UN CRC but within South Africa, provinces and individual schools have the right to decide about the issue. He agreed that he extent of trafficking must be researched further. In terms of early childhood development (ECD) he said that research has shown that the ages 0-3 years are very important for investment. Investment here was in the children rather than in terms of expenditure as this age group yielded the best returns. He said that they did not deal with out of school children in South Africa. South Africa had relatively high completion rates but that this was changing due to HIV. In addition, many men were abandoning their families as a result and children are being forced to leave school. He felt that planning for this problem should start immediately.

Mrs Chalmers wanted to know how programmes were implemented and choices were made and prioritisation occurred. She requested that Unicef inform Parliament about their findings so the Members could make a difference. She noted that she was experiencing the effects of HIV in her constituency and wanted to know whether they were seeing any good effects of their projects.

Dr Jassat agreed with Dr Baloyi about parents moulding their children but noted that parents did not all have the same skills and resources. He felt that the issue of micronutrients is very important and should be pursued. He also asked for clarity about child labour by raising his concern about child soldiers.

Ms Kasienyane congratulated the delegation on their presentation and noted that rapid assessment was working very well but asked what the process was after that. She commended the training of trainers and said that the process must be expedited. She wanted to know where the six sites were and suggested that the route of starting at the district level must be encouraged in other provinces.

The Chairperson noted that a two hour meeting was not enough to deal with the issues being raised and suggested that the Committee explore the possibility of a two-day workshop especially in the light of the pending child care legislation. He said that Unicef's work could inform the deliberations of the Committee and that they should establish a working relationship.

Mr Morch noted that an important outcome for Unicef was the need to broaden partnerships. Where they are established in countries, they have partnerships with governments. He said that they would be pleased to show Members what they do. Their work is done in collaboration with the children's desk in the Presidency where priorities are decided upon. He said that they need to broaden it from that base and want to hear from the Members where they felt emphasis should be placed.

Ms Ned said that the work being done in terms of out of school children was essentially about working with communities about their needs and to empower the communities about their rights. About the rapid assessment process, she said that there are 425 volunteers who want to assist and in the first week of June 2002 they will report back to the households. Unicef will be facilitating a workshop on human rights in four districts in the North West Province, which will entail wide community involvement. They will do presentations to the social sector cluster in the provinces. In terms of trafficking of children, she noted that Molo Songolo is attempting to verify the extent of the problem and is doing further research.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee was getting information about trafficking in children but that it was not substantial enough yet. He said that they should be sensitive to the situation before it expands.

Mr Mateljale responded about the issue of monitoring and evaluation by noting that they were monitoring the status of children either directly or by supporting government or NGOs. They do monitoring of partnership with the partner concerned but also monitor overall programmes of action nationally and provincially. Evaluating the impact of the programme is difficult as it is difficult to separate Unicef's impact from that of the other organisations. In the next five years, they will try to set specific goals as indicators. The indicators will be reviewed annually, mid-term and at the end of the cycle.

Mr Masutha asked in terms of the co-ordination envisaged and taking into account the post-1994 constitutional state's concepts of equity and the need to address disparities, what the starting point would be to begin to introduce equity.

Ms Gandhi wanted to know if Unicef had any suggestions about the 0-3 years age group considering that this was the age at which parents were usually responsible for the children. She also wanted to know whether they had any examples of legislation about child trafficking.

Ms Gill said that an area where co-ordination was lacking was in dealing with HIV and ECD. She agreed that disparity exists and said that the emphasis seems to be on building infrastructure in education. With regard to children's participation in finding solutions, she noted that parents had flaws as well and that there is a need to listen to children expressing themselves and that parents need to read the signals being given by children. She agreed that manipulation by adults was not sought. About ECD, she said that global and scientific research has shown that0-3 is a critical time. Health issue are given due attention at this age but not issues of cognition and development. There is a need to develop a wholistic approach and to deal with the whole child. It is important to reach out to the parents in this regard. Family support structures are not always available when both parents work and there is a need to build up such an infrastructure. Crèches must be integrated into schools so that siblings are kept together and there is no disjuncture. She concluded by noting that social problems arise when it is too late and that early intervention is required. She said it was important to produce emotionally secure children.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation for the tremendous experience and noted that the Committee now had a better sense of the work being done by Unicef. He said that the Committee would contact Unicef about proposals on how to take the working relationship further.

The meeting adjourned at 12:53 sine die.

PRESENTSaloojee, Mr. E (Chairperson)


Chalmers Ms J

Gandhi, Ms E

Jassat, Dr E E *

Kasienyane, Miss O R *

Makasi, Mrs X C

Masutha, Mr M T

Cupido, Ms P W

Kalyan, Ms S V

Baloyi, Dr O

Mbadi, Prof L M

Southgate, Mrs R M

Rajbally, Ms S

Bhengu, Mr F

Tshivhase, Mrs T J

Da Camara, Mr M

Mars, Ms I

Minutes provided by Committee Secretary , Ms Zarina Adhikari.


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