The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is re-introducing its partnership with the Kwara State Government in line with its implementation strategy and programme document for 2018 to 2022.
Speaking during the UNICEF and Kwara partnership meeting on Tuesday in Ilorin, Zakari Adam, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Kaduna, said the organisation was in the state to obtain presentations about various problems affecting children in the state after it left in 2013.
According to him, the UNICEF Field Office in Kaduna has the mandate to support programming in Kwara, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger states.
UNICEF, he said, was meeting with various stakeholders in Kwara so as to have an overview of the situation of women and children as well as the existing programming priorities by the implementing partners.
He pointed out that the key programming areas of focus would be in health and HIV, water sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, basic education, child protection and social policy.
Mr Adam explained that the role of UNICEF was not to replace state and government responsibilities but to assist and complement them.
He also said in spite of efforts by the humanitarian organisation to help women and children globally, it also has its own challenges such as dearth of resources and long distance operation.
Speaking earlier, Wasiu Odewale, the Commissioner for Planning and Economic Development in Kwara, said the state was ready to partner with UNICEF again in support of various programmes targeted at children’s welfare.
He expressed optimism that the two-day meeting with UNICEF would help in ascertaining the “challenges and identifying directions that can bring interventions to areas needed.’’
The commissioner, however, identified lack of counterpart funding to assist donor agencies as a factor hampering efforts to sustain their efforts in the state.
He observed that Kwara had not done well in that regard, adding that this was an opportunity for the state to access funding in order to assist and complement efforts by UNICEF.
Also speaking, Tayo Oyelowo, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, commended UNICEF for its age-long assistance and intervention programmes in the area of health.
He said the previous exit of UNICEF from Kwara was due to the perception that the state had achieved impressive indices, with such intervention programmes diverted to other states in need of assistance.
Mr Oyelowo, however, disclosed that the situation was not as rosy as it appeared and the state had been battling its challenges.
He said with UNICEF’s presence, there was hope of a turn-around in the state as the organisation was renowned for capacity building.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of the Ministries of Health, Education, Water Resources, Planning and Economic Development, Justice and Women Affairs as well as the National Orientation Agency were at the meeting.