|Ms. Kadra Ahmed Hassan takes time with Pa O ethnic children at Nang Tang Rual Health Centre, Nang Tang village, Kalaw Township during the Joint UN Executive Board Visit to Shan State|
Taungyi, Southern Shan State, Myanmar 16 March 2013: Myanmar’s rapid and exciting transition has not escaped the attention of the Executive Board of the six United Nations Agencies working in Myanmar, namely UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, WFP, UN Women and UNOPS. The Boards of all six agencies have chosen Myanmar for their annual joint field visit this year to actively engage with the country’s government and people in a few different remote locations.
Following meetings in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw a delegation comprised of representatives of Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Liberia, Malawi, and Mexico headed for Southern Shan State to better understand realities on the ground as well as the role of the UN in assisting the Government and civil society to meet challenges. The aim was also to identify opportunities and needs for UN agencies at a time when the UN’s joint engagement with Myanmar is fast evolving.
The visits brought opportunity for the delegates to witness firsthand how UNICEF and UNFPA join forces to strengthen the Government-run health system and reduce HIV transmission, maternal and child morbidity and mortality, as well as malnutrition in poor and hard-to-reach areas in Taungyi Township. A visit to a school where UNICEF support non formal education, run and partly financed by the Shwe Nyaung community and supervised by the State Education Department helped the delegates assess the impact of poverty on school attendance and children's learning achievements.
The nascent child protection system in Taungyi was another opportunity to witness firsthand the complementarity between local NGOs and the Department of Social Welfare in protecting children against trafficking, abuse and exploitation. “It is absolutely critical that UN agencies support policy reforms and strengthen government systems in the delivery of quality basic services to accelerate and sustain results for children, and address inequity in Myanmar,” said Ms. Kadra Ahmed Hassan, Counselor at the Representation of Djibouti to the UN and representing her country at the UNICEF Board.
The visiting delegates paid particular attention to the current and evolving financing mechanisms in support of health and education services, both from government resources and international development partners. “The UN agencies have a critical role to play in enhancing coherence and effectiveness of donor funding in support of key national strategic priority areas such as social investment,” said Chris Stokes, Development Advisor at the Australian Mission to the UN.
The delegation concluded the visit in Southern Shan with a meeting with the Chief Minister of the Shan State in his Office, who briefed the delegates on the initial steps taken by the country towards greater decentralization and a people-centred approach to development, hopefully giving greater voice to various ethnic groups in nation building. UNICEF builds upon this new opportunity to encourage Shan State to develop its social protection system, and explores ways to include representation of diverse ethnic groups in the upcoming review of its country programme.
The visit to Shan, led by UNICEF and UNFPA, was deemed very useful by the delegates. “From our respective Missions to the UN, we often discuss how to make the UN system more coherent and more efficient. It is vital that our recommendations be anchored into realities. UN reforms must be guided by what makes most sense for girls, boys, women and men in countries benefiting from UN assistance such as Myanmar,” said Eduardo Porretti, Minister Counselor at the Mission of Argentina to the UN, and representing its country at the Board of UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS.