UNICEF unveils five-year action plan, calls for prioritisation of the Children


Children ferrying firewood from Kerito Tea Estate in Nyamira County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has launched 11 top advocacy priorities; aimed at accelerating timely actualisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on children in Kenya.

The priorities also seek to achieve the desired outcomes for children by highlighting actions and investments that will improve the well-being of every child in the country.

Speaking during the launch held at the United Nations Office in Nairobi UNICEF Representative in Kenya, Shaheen Niloffer, said, “These 11 priority issues are a reminder and a clarion call to policymakers, development partners, donors, government, and UN agencies to advocate and ensure funding is made available and prioritised nationally for all children and women,”.

She also acknowledged the incremental progress showcased in the KDH report last year but pointed to emerging shocks that continue to rock the gains. 

“There was a severe pandemic in the century, the Ukraine and Russian war, the biggest global energy crisis that we’ve seen, the global inflation rates, the increasing debt burden, the drought and floods that continue to impact all the progress that has been made for children,” she added.

Nearly 50 per cent of Kenya’s population comprises children under 19, according to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey.

However, some analysts have opined that this can be a future blessing or curse. Some have even gone ahead and declared that with the status quo, the minors could be a ticking time bomb for Kenya.

About five years remain until 2030, when a report on the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is expected to be released. The Kenyan Constitution guarantees optimum well-being for children and has made impressive strides to make that happen over the last decade. Some of the policies implemented range from free education to laws and policies aimed at ending violence against children. 

However, progress remains uneven, fragmented and slow.

 Climate change is emerging as one of the top issues that are making children suffer new forms of hardships, aggravating an already dire situation occasioned by poverty, hunger, violence and disease.

UNICEF’s action plan focuses on addressing critical areas including early childhood development, health, education, nutrition, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), social protection, and child protection.

It also seeks to highlight the crucial role of policy choices, actions and budgetary allocations in shaping the nation’s priorities for children’s well-being and development in the run-up to the Government of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

These issues tend to interconnect and snowball into instability and ultimately to systemic breakdown because there’s competition for food and humanitarian support, undoubtedly impacting every progress towards achieving a fair world.

Nilofer called on all implementing partners, humanitarian organisations, and, more specifically, the government to ramp up domestic resource mobilisation and prioritise resource allocation to ensure the children's progress is maintained.

Dr Racheal Nyamai, a Kenyan Member of parliament, said the parliament of Kenya is playing its role and discharging its mandate in lawmaking and budget making; and has prioritised issues relating to children, youth, women, and marginalised communities. 

“The National Assembly has endeavoured to ensure that allocations to three critical sectors, namely Education, Health and Agriculture, have increased since these sectors impact children,” said Dr Nyamai.