UNICEF’s Executive Board Bureau Visits Egypt
CAIRO/NEW YORK, 10 April 2017 – As UNICEF Egypt is finalizing the new Country Program Document (CPD) for 2018-2022, a delegation from the Executive Board visited the country between 25 and 31 March 2017.
During the Executive Board visit, Mr. Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Egypt, explained: “Egypt, like other Middle Income Countries, achieved important progress in child wellbeing and rights over the past two decades, including the reduction of child and maternal mortality. Despite this progress, diverging disparities within the country, in particular between children living in urban and rural areas, remain.”
Mr. Maes added: “Old and new challenges in the country, including children on the move and the youth bulge, require innovative approaches and durable solutions. In Egypt, UNICEF is engaged in the modernization of the national social protection strategy, with a large-scale cash transfer scheme for poor families with children. It also spearheads an End Violence against Children initiative with a unique partnership with the Orthodox Coptic Church and Al Azhar University, as well as an enhanced, multi-sector roadmap for Early Childhood Development.”
The visit provided an opportunity to the Executive Board delegation to meet with several national government counterparts and implementing partners, and learn about UNICEF’s role in promoting synergies and new partnerships addressing critical needs and emerging demands. The meetings with the national government counterparts provided the opportunity to the Board members to understand UNICEF’s unique role in supporting knowledge transfer, evidence generation for advocacy, and national system strengthening.
In Cairo, the Delegation met: H.E. Ambassador Laila Bahaa Eldin, Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights and International Social and Humanitarian Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Ms. Nivine El-Kabbag, Minister's Assistant for Social Development and Protection and Ms. Sahar Mashoor, Minister’s Advisor on Social Care (Ministry of Social Solidarity); H.E. Tarek Shawki, Minister of Education; Dr. Maissa Shawky, Deputy Minister of Health and Population and Representative of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM); Ms. Amira Ahmed Gamal El-Din Abd El-Hamid, Head of Economics and Mobilization Sector, and Amal Ali Nour El-Din Haggag, Head of Population Statistics and Censuses Sector (Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics - CAPMAS).
In Assiut Governorate, the Executive Board members met with the Governor, Mr. Yasser El Desouky, whom they commended for his commitment to support existing programs and start new initiatives, including child protection system strengthening.
The Executive Board delegation visited the Um El Kusour Family Health Unit (Manfalout District, Assiut). This facility is part of the Integrated Perinatal Health and Nutrition (IPHN) program, a national flagship initiative of the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP), with UNICEF and USAID support. Through this visit the UNICEF Board learnt about the success of the IPHN program and its impact to improve the quality of maternal and child primary care since 2012.
The Board members met with children and teaching staff the Al-Sahhara Community School in Bani Shoqeir village (Assiut Governorate); at the school, they witnessed how the community-based education programme helps overcome insufficient education opportunities and meet the complex needs of children who otherwise would have no access to learning.
In Assiut, the Delegation also visited the Bani Mor Youth Center (El Fath District) where the Board Members interacted with adolescents and youth benefitting from the “Meshwary” program, providing life and employability skills. UNICEF has supported the Bani Mor Youth Center since 2013; the Center has a very active Career Guidance Center, which became the main point of reference for youth and adolescents seeking for employment orientation.
In Cairo, the Executive Board members attended an inter-faith intergenerational dialogue for long term commitment to end violence against children. The event is part of the Religious Leaders Initiative (RLI) which seeks to disseminate key messages from Islam and Christianity on prevention of violence against children. The Executive Board members commended the RLI for being an innovative approach to tackle child violence through the engagement of religious leaders and young religious scholars.
At the “Mohamed Farid” Primary School (El-Sahel, Cairo), the Executive Board learnt about UNICEF’s Inclusion School Model to improve equity and quality of education for children with mild disabilities. With UNICEF’s support, this school has a resource room featuring a wide range of learning materials for 21 children with disabilities and learning difficulties.
The Board members met with Syrian families at the Family Health Unit “First Health Office of 10th of Ramadan City” (Greater Cairo) where UNICEF supports an innovative model (“family club”) for the delivery of health care services and community-based child protection. The Executive Board Delegation commended UNICEF’s team for its efforts to promote resilience and system building while responding to the needs of both Egyptian and non-Egyptian families.
At the conclusion of the one week visit, H.E. Mr. Gebeyehu Ganga Gayito, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations and head of the delegation, expressed: “During these days spent together with UNICEF Egypt team, we have learnt about challenges and opportunities for UNICEF’s future programmes. During our visit we met with highly committed national counterparts; we believe UNICEF in Egypt has all the potential and capacity to shine”.