UNICEF in Sh116b appeal for women, kids

March 7, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7- The United Nations Children\’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday made an appeal for Sh116.3 billion in aid of women and children caught up in crises in 32 countries, including Kenya.

UNICEF Regional Director Elhadj As Sy said Sh303 million would be set aside for eight countries in East and Southern Africa with the bulk going to Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Somalia, where women and children were most vulnerable.

Mr As Sy however explained that it was difficult to calculate the number of women and children in need.

"If you look at the population on the move, in any emergency situation, you see almost every woman with a child on her back and another in tow. Half of the people in any group are women and multiply that by two to get the number of children that may be in need," he explained.

He also noted that poor infrastructure in most targeted regions made it difficult to distribute the humanitarian aid while at the same time increasing the need for more funds.

Mr As Sy further explained that the pitiable conditions made it difficult to carry out child immunisation activities and called for full and timely funding saying it would facilitate the organisation\’s works.

"It\’s about getting the services down to the population and the fund is only a means to that. We particularly try to ensure that the vulnerable groups get the much needed help be it water, vaccination or the sanitation facilities," he said.

He added that an estimated 17.4 million people were affected by food insecurity across the region.

"Around 103,000 people in Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda and Zambia were temporarily displaced by severe flooding and landslides. And it is common to see communities that are already living on the edge hit by other shocks," he said.

Mr As Sy also asked the concerned governments to strengthen their community\’s resilience to droughts, floods and post conflict periods.

"Even in those communities whose needs are relatively well taken care of, if you go to the areas that are remote or to places that are isolated like among nomadic populations, you will find that their vulnerabilities are still high," he explained.

The UN body further asked for Sh431.8 million to sustain its work in Burundi which still suffers the aftershocks of the long civil war which ended in 2006.

UNICEF representative for Burundi Souleymane Diabaté noted that his country was ranked 166 out of 169 among the poorest countries of the world. He explained that women and children bore the biggest brunt as the country tried to transit from instability to sustainable development.

"Over 67 percent of our country\’s population live on less than a dollar a day and our country is rated among the top five poorest countries worldwide. Close to 60 percent of the government\’s budget is donor funded," he explained.

He noted that 830,000 people, of the eight million Burundians, were orphans and vulnerable children representing 11 percent of the population.

"What is at stake is the well-being of children and their families who have to cope with diseases and malnutrition," he said.

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Haiti, Sahel and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also targeted in the appeal.

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