Question of Palestine home
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
28 February 2010
Background (February 2010)
There were over 3.9 million Palestinians in oPt in 2009: 2.4 million in the West Bank, and 1.5 million in Gaza. Just under half (49%) were below 18 years of age, with adolescents between 13 and 18 years old making up 14 per cent of the population.
The economy has suffered a massive downturn since 2000, and food insecurity has risen with deepening poverty: 60.5 per cent of Gaza households were food insecure, along with a quarter of households in the West Bank at end-2009. The World Bank notes in its September 2009 Economic Monitoring Report that "high unemployment, particularly amongst the younger segments of the population, remains possibly the biggest problem for the Palestinian Authority".
UNICEF-oPt's 2009 situation analysis (see UNICEF November 2009 monthly update at
) notes that while measurable improvements were made in fulfilling Palestinian children's rights to since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) 15 years ago, many of these gains are now in jeopardy, with trend data pointing to declines or stagnation since 2000 in children's health and education, and severe exposure to chronic violence and psychosocial stress.
UNICEF oPt’s programme for 2010 focuses on five fundamental sectors: child protection and psychosocial support; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); health and nutrition; education; and adolescent development and participation (ADAP). Cross-cutting results include priority to children in public policy and resource allocation; progress towards gender equity; and greater participation among adolescents. Humanitarian assistance focuses on emergency response/early recovery, with cluster leadership in the WASH and Education sectors along with the Child Protection and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support sub-clusters. Support to the Palestinian Authority and partners includes policy development, technical support, coordination, monitoring, reporting and advocacy.
The programme is guided by the principles and standards of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and supports the goals for children outlined in the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan for 2010.
Health and Nutrition
UNICEF works with government, national and international agencies, and civil society to support equitable access to health and nutrition services, and targeted assistance to vulnerable groups and those with special needs. Programmes focus on an integrated package of low-cost, low-technology and high impact interventions such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, improved breastfeeding practices and adoption of safe hygiene practices to prevent maternal and child deaths and reduce under nutrition (the IMCI approach).
In oPt, UNICEF will support MoH efforts to scale up capacity and coverage through technical assistance and capacity building at household, community and health facility levels; the procurement of inputs, including micronutrients; and conducting behaviour change programmes within households and communities. Health interventions will focus on improving care for high risk pregnant women and newborns in hospitals, and for improving maternal and child care at household and community levels.
Specifically, UNICEF will:
Provide technical assistance towards upgrading and expanding the number of Ministry of Health nutritional surveillance sentinel sites from 66 to 110. To support MoH efforts to improve infant and young child feeding, UNICEF will support training for health workers, social mobilization and awareness campaigns at household, community and clinic levels. UNICEF will procure micronutrients for 220,000 children and 100,000 pregnant mothers; target beneficiaries include stunted and anemic children in vulnerable areas.
Support MoH efforts to improve care for a target group of 3,000 high risk pregnant mothers and newborns, UNICEF will equip 10 hospital newborn units with an extensive package of equipment and medical supplies, conduct intensive training; and develop protocols and guidelines. To improve health care delivery at primary health care level, UNICEF will equip and train staff in 118 clinics on the IMCI approach, to reach a target group of 37,500 sick children.
Provide technical assistance in support of vaccine safety and security through functional cold chain systems; medical waste management and safe injection practices; and institution-wide skills delivery programmes.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
UNICEF's long-standing support to improving water supply, sanitation and hygiene is based on evidence on their centrality to ensuring the rights of children to survive, grow and develop. UNICEF works to improve water supplies and sanitation facilities in schools and communities, and to promote safe hygiene practices. In emergencies, UNICEF provides urgent relief to communities threatened by disrupted water supplies and disease.
In oPt, UNICEF focuses on improving WASH infrastructure and hygiene promotion in schools; restoring/rehabilitating connections to networks and filling points for extremely marginalized communities in the West Bank and households in vulnerable areas in Gaza; and strengthening information management, especially in water quality surveillance.
In 2010, UNICEF will work specifically to:
With the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, reconstruct/rehabilitate 74 schools (42 West Bank and 32 in Gaza) serving 40,000 students. UNICEF will also tanker daily drinking water to 25 schools in the West Bank and 80 schools in Gaza. Training and public awareness campaigns on in hygiene behavior change will be conducted through at least 45 schools.
To help meet severe shortages in water supply in extremely vulnerable parts of Area C of the West Bank and minimise health risks associated with water/environmental pollution in Gaza, UNICEF will rehabilitate water networks and connections to filling stations, rehabilitate sewage networks and construct booster stations and a water reservoir. Target population is over 18,800 families.
Technical assistance will focus on establishing a water quality surveillance system; updating PWA's database management system; upgrading CMWU's GIS system and supporting PWA in the development of the national water law and policy. UNICEF will also strengthen WASH cluster coordination and implementation through technical support, capacity-building and knowledge sharing.
UNICEF works to ensure that every child ¡V regardless of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background or circumstances ¡V has access to quality education. In emergency contexts, UNICEF works to return children to safe learning environments as quickly as possible as an unparalleled means for restoring a sense of normalcy and hope to children and their families.
In oPt, UNICEF works with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to improve the quality of education through capacity-building; improving
learning environments in especially vulnerable communities; and improve delivery and uptake of early childhood development services.
In 2010, UNICEF efforts will focus on:
Promoting the child-friendly schools approach in oPt’s 100 lowest-performing school, with in-service training on interactive learning along with structured extra-curricular activities for students. Remedial education opportunities will target low-performing students at 151 West Bank and Gaza schools. UNICEF will provide continued support to 54 school and community-based libraries established to promote literacy; and provide 45 schools serving children with special needs with a package of educational aids and training material.
Finalisation of the Early Childhood Development policy framework and work plan, including capacity-building for kindergarten caregivers and parents.
Equipping and training staff at 220 Government schools to utilize the Educational Management Information System (EMIS) as a way of tracking student health and academic performance, with plans for scaling up the system across all schools.
UNICEF uses the term „child protection. to refer to the prevention of, and response to, violence, exploitation, neglect, and abuse of children. UNICEF's role is to protect children and women, ensure the rigorous application of international standards covering their rights, and provide them with the resources and tools for recovery. In oPt, UNICEF support focuses on strengthening capacity within the Ministry of Social Affairs and relevant line ministries to mainstream and implement child protection norms and standards in legislation, protocols and policies; and on providing strong, coordinated protection services to children at risk through partners in the Child Protection and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support sub-clusters. UNICEF programmes work at community level to enable children and families to better protect themselves, promote positive behavior in the home, and learn in environments free from violence.
In 2010, UNICEF will work specifically to:
Strengthen capacity of ministry staff, implementing partners and community volunteers to provide strong protective support, including psychosocial services, to children and their families. UNICEF will provide an integrated package of services through 20 one-stop family centres in Gaza and through 16 psychosocial teams across oPt; support will reach at least 30,000 children and their families.
Support MoSA in developing the National Child Protection Action Plan in partnership with MoEHE, MoH, MoI and MoJ; along with complementary work on juvenile justice legislation; capacity building among child protection and rule of law service providers; and standardized protocols for referring children affected by violence, abuse or exploitation for use by service providers and the police. UNICEF will promote endorsement of a zero-tolerance against violence policy that is now being piloted in 93 schools.
Lead a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli, international NGOs and UN agencies monitoring and reporting on grave violations against children in armed conflict, including development of database; capacity building of partners; and conducting a study on children in contact with juvenile justice.
Provide strong coordination to Child Protection and Mental Health and Psychosocial working groups for effective programme coverage. UNICEF will continue work to establish a set of baseline indicators for monitoring child well-being.
Adolescent Development and Participation
UNICEF programmes in oPt aim to strengthen national capacity to increase adolescent participation, improve secondary school retention, reduce violence, and improve knowledge on healthy lifestyles. UNICEF support in recent years has focused on supporting MoYS in strengthening coordination, technical and monitoring capacity.
To reach adolescents struggling to stay in school in vulnerable communities, UNICEF piloted the adolescent-friendly learning spaces. initiative within four existing youth or community centres in 2005, providing a package of quality learning, recreational and developmental services. By end 2009, programme was working through 143 centres, with over 500 community-based facilitators who had been trained in child rights and adolescent participation. The centres enable adolescents to have a say in how the centres are managed, and also offer structured ways of becoming involved in advocacy campaigns and action research on issues of importance to them.
In 2010, UNICEF’s ADAP progamme will work to:
Strengthen the quality of services provided to 54,000 adolescents through 120 centres across oPt (60 West Bank, 40 Gaza and 20 East Jerusalem), with a focus on remedial learning; life skills based education, including HIV prevention; sports; and other recreational activities. The programme will provide 10,000 adolescents with opportunities for civic engagement. Each of the centres is equipped with quality training and supplies. In 2010, UNICEF will pilot similar activities within four MoSA child protection centres.
Conduct three studies to support evidence-based planning for 2011-2013: a "Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices and Behaviours survey" on HIV prevention and reproductive health; an adolescent-led survey on young lifestyles; and an evaluation of UNICEF’s work in adolescent participation programming.
Technical support to MoYS will focus on finalizing the National Cross-Sectoral Strategy on Youth, capacity-building to monitor services for adolescents, and defining an essential package of services and standards for adolescent-friendly spaces.
Policy, Studies and Evidence
UNICEF works with partners to ensure that programme strategies are designed to respond to humanitarian needs which can suddenly escalate, and also to provide support for maximizing development opportunities for the rights of children.
With partners, UNICEF will continue to work on policy development that better serves the rights of children and women. This will include getting the amended Child Law endorsed by the President; developing national policies and strategies in early childhood development, child health insurance, water governance, and youth sector.
UNICEF will also strengthen its evidence-based advocacy and public policy, through research, analysis, and building national information systems, to advocate and mobilise for the prioritisation of child rights by national authorities, civil society, the international community in general, and the media in particular. With partners, UNICEF will develop national management information systems, including sentinel nutritional surveillance; water quality surveillance; child protection case management and further strengthen the 1612 monitoring and reporting mechanism. Support to research will include multiple indicator cluster survey (MICSIV), social disparity; comprehensive child protection assessment in Gaza; combined nutrition survey and micronutrient study in West Bank; and interagency evaluation of psychosocial programming in Gaza.
Support To H1N1
As at 15 February, there were 1,612 reported cases of H1N1 with 45 reported deaths including 11 children. Together with the Ministry of Health (MoH), UNICEF supported H1N1 immunization campaign for 300 people of Jbara. Jbara is an enclave surrounded by the "Barrier", its 300 residents have no basic health or education services. “Immunization against H1N1 is beneficial. It protects us, our children and elderly from getting the disease”, said Laila Mustafa Jbara, a 38-year-old woman after immunizing her nephew against H1N1. To read more, visit:
PA-UNICEF Annual Work Plans Signed
In February 2010, UNICEF-oPt Special Representative Jean Gough and line ministries signed the 2010 Palestinian Authority and UNICEF annual work plans, which are in line with the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan and the Millennium Development Goals.
A Safe Space to Heal and Recover
For Rania al-Asi, a mother of five, the nine months since “Cast Lead” have been a long road to recovery. She spends many hours in psychosocial group sessions at a family centre in Al-Shate’ refugee camp in northern Gaza City, drawing strength and sustenance from the other caregivers, children and adolescents who come regularly to the centre for help in rebuilding their lives. The family centre initiative is a UNICEF programme implemented by Save the Children Sweden in partnership with NGOs and community based organizations.
On 20 February 2010, UNICEF and Al Nayzak for Supportive Education & Scientific Innovation marked the ending of the second phase of young researchers’ project, where a group of 60 finalists were selected. The project seeks to foster the participation of adolescents in improving knowledge management on issues impacting their lives. Two hundred and twenty adolescent groups, aged 13-18, carried out research in four main areas: social issues, health, education, environment and agriculture.