ISLAMABAD, April 2: Deputy Executive Director Unicef Dr Rima has emphasized the need for developing indicators to assess the impact of multi-million dollar advocacy campaigns for various projects.

In an exclusive interview with Dawn here on Friday, Ms Salah said though changes in behaviour were difficult to asses, yet there was a need to develop indicators for impact assessment of advocacy.

Ms Salah, who arrived in Islamabad to attend the national health forum, started her career with the Unicef in 1987 in Quetta, while working on social planning.

She is a staunch advocate of girl’s education, and helped develop the first girls education outreach programme in Balochistan. The strategy of the programme was later adopted by the government for the entire country.

Emphasizing the need for advocacy campaign assessments, she said, “To measure is to treasure.” She said advocacy was a big part of Unicef’s programme in Pakistan and in the world.

In reply to a question about credibility crisis of some of the non-government organizations in Pakistan, Ms Salah said, “There are NGOs that are good and there are NGOs that are not good. But Unicef, while working with NGOs, must make sure about their reputation, their bank accounts. We will not work with NGOs with a tainted track record. It is important that they are accountable. They have to report to us.”

In response to a question about Unicef’s budgetary allocations for Pakistan, Ms Salah said, “Our programme in Pakistan is one of the largest programmes in the world with a $129 million commitment for a five year programme.”

She said the amount would now be raised to $189 million due to successful efforts of the team.

She said the major area of funding for Pakistan was allocated for child survival amounting to $70 million. Education, particularly girl’s education, was a priority area for Unicef, she said, adding Unicef was putting more emphasis on girls education as all research and studies had shown that it helped improve the maternal and child health.

Asked if the financial commitment of Pakistan to health and education sector was sufficient, she said, “It is improving.”

She appreciated the announcement by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to arrange 50 per cent funding for the maternal and child health projects as the donors raise the other 50 per cent.

“The government has a commitment at the top policy level to improve the health of the mothers and children and to reduce child mortality. With all the advancements in technology and knowledge, still 100 million children die around the world before celebrating their fifth birthday,” said Ms Salah.

She said birth of a child was a happy occasion but it turned to be a sad incident for families when women die during childbirth because of lack of access to health services.

About global financial allocations of the Unicef, Ms Salah said the children’s organisation had a budget of one billion dollars. Unicef is now looking forward to doubling the current dollar one billion funding and even triple it if the world’s donors are impressed by the performance and achievement of targets.

Ms Salah said child protection was another major area of concern for the Unicef, as more and more children around the world were being abused, trafficked and used as child soldiers. To ensure a protective environment for children, Unicef is working with government, the community and the families.

She said the problems of child trafficking and child abuse in Pakistan needed to be tackled. Unicef is undertaking a study with other agencies on violence against children in the country. A regional consultation on child protection issues would take place in Islamabad next month, she said.

Replying to a question about disparities between defence and social sector budgetary allocations in India and Pakistan, Ms Salah said most countries in the world were spending more funds on defence because of security problems. Emphasising the need for more allocation of funds for the social sector, she hoped the global trends would change for peace so that development issues and social services could be given priority.

When asked if Pakistan would be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she said Pakistan will achieve some of the goals if not all. She said efforts should be made to achieve all the MDGs as Pakistan had resources, the political will, and most importantly the human resources.

Asked what changes she found in Pakistan after revisiting the country, Ms Salah said, there were lots of changes in terms of development and commitment, more awareness, more globalisation.

She added, “Yesterday I was listening to a presentation and I think we still have the same problems. And you know why we have the same problems? Because of poverty. If Pakistan invests more in health and education, she said, it can bring a turn around as we have examples of South Asian and East Asian countries, which invested in human development and their economies improved.

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