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UNICEF has been working in Myanmar continuously since April 1950. Despite difficult political and economic circumstances, UNICEF helped to successfully initiate programmes to protect children against small pox, leprosy and yaws. Over time, UNICEF expanded its programs to support the development of rural health services, basic education for children, and community water supply and sanitation systems. UNICEF also advocated for Myanmar's accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which the government ratified in the 1990s.
For more than 60 years, UNICEF has been working to positively change the lives of Myanmar’s children. Through its strong working relationship with the Government of Myanmar over the decades and significant engagement with other stakeholders, UNICEF is positioning itself to continue and strengthen its efforts to improve children’s lives.
The ongoing political and economic reform process including decentralization provides a good opportunity for UNICEF to continue working with Government and other partners and achieve major gains for all children. The current country programme (2011-2017) was extended in 2015 along with that of other UN agencies in agreement with the Government of Myanmar. It aims at delivering key results at various - policy, systems, and community - levels, tapping into the new opportunities provided by various reforms to accelerate results for children, especially the most marginalized.
In this context, UNICEF support focuses on strengthening systems in education, health and nutrition, WASH and child protection and making them accessible to the most disadvantaged, including through opportunities generated by decentralization and the need to promote social cohesion. It supports capacity building at Union, State and Townships levels to develop and implement plans and budgets for children. UNICEF also supports the Government of Myanmar’s response to the needs of children affected by conflict and natural hazards, and invest in preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience building strategies with focus on children in needs. The current momentum of engagement in various sector reforms will continue, and support continues to be provided towards the development of policies and legislation that will enable wider and accelerated realisation of children’s rights.
UNICEF systematically implements a comprehensive advocacy strategy to influence a range of decision makers and other relevant audiences. UNICEF has identified 5 office-wide advocacy priorities for the period 2014-2017: increasing public finance for children; protecting and promoting the rights of all children in Rakhine State; children affected by armed conflict; the first 1000 days of a child’s life; and children with disabilities.
UNICEF works on the ground for programme implementation directly through the government departments and through a number of international and local non-governmental organizations and faith based organizations, and from its 10 field offices and outposts positioned throughout the country.