Wednesday, November 16, 2016

UNICEF and Cambodian government staff reflect on programmes for children through joint field visits

By Iman Morooka


At the de-briefing session on day of the joint field monitoring visit where all the groups gathered in Kampong Cham province to share their observations and recommendations. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Say Siphonn, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, H.E. Mr. Try Meng, Ministry of Rural Development, H.E. Prof. Oum Samol, Ministry of Health, and Ms. Debora Comini, UNICEF Cambodia Representative.
©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Morooka

Phnom Penh, 16 November 2016 – Late last month, staff from various ministries within the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and the UNICEF Cambodia Country Office conducted field visits across the country over a period of four days where they visited programme sites and met with local authorities and community members, as well as NGO partners.

This is our first year of implementing UNICEF Cambodia’s Country Programme 2016-2018 which emphasizes the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration and programme design in sectors such as health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and child protection and addressing issues in these areas which are related to the safety, welfare and development of children.

For an overview of our current 2016-2018 Country Programme sector activities, please access the following link: https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/activities.html

The purpose of these joint field visits was to assess the progress of ongoing efforts for children and women; take stock of what’s working; look at the challenges; and discuss solutions to improving programmes for children and families through timely action.

The RGC and UNICEF staff, from across all key social sectors, were divided into three teams: the first covered the Central-South provinces, the second covered the North-East provinces, while the third covered the North-West provinces. 

The teams split into further smaller groups to visit different project sites, after which they met to share and reflect on their findings.

NGO Sipar conducts an awareness session through the mobile library initiative to deliver messages on health, nutrition, and water and sanitation at a village in Kratie province.
©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Kong

They saw activities conducted in communities to increase the knowledge of families of key issues that are vital for children’s healthy survival and growth; they interacted with children and mothers at a nutritional screening site; visited children who have been reunited with their families after having been placed in residential care institutions; saw positive discipline activities in schools and support being provided to children with disabilities; and met with vulnerable families benefitting from the cash transfer programme, as well as other development projects.

On day four – the last day of the joint visit – all three teams met in Kampong Cham province to discuss their findings and agree on the next course of action. 

Through all these visits and subsequent discussions, one thing was crystal clear; the importance of the commitment and engagement of leadership at the local level – from provincial governments to communes and villages – in ensuring community ownership and participation, sustainability of the activity, and translation of national policies into real change for children.

The importance of collaborative relationships between provincial governments and Women and Children’s Consultative Committees (WCCC) was also observed.

A mother attends with her baby an integrated health and nutrition education session conducted by the Village Health Volunteer in one of the urban poor communities in Phnom Penh. Participants from the Government of Cambodia and UNICEF visited the community to see efforts being made to help improve child-care practices and to screen children for their nutritional status to detect signs of malnutrition.
©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Morooka

The groups also shared their thoughts about how best to work together in ‘integrating’ the efforts of various sectors – water and sanitation, education, nutrition, health, infrastructure, social services, and others.

The findings and recommendations from the joint field visit will inform UNICEF’s bilateral annual reviews with partners, both governmental and non-governmental, and have a direct influence on making adjustments in next year’s work plans and budgets.

Participants of the joint field monitoring visit walk through a stale and large puddle of water to reach a village in Kandal province
©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Morooka
Participation and engagement by RGC counterparts was impressive, with representation by senior and technical personnel from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Rural Development and the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development.

From UNICEF’s side, participants included senior management and staff working in the areas of child survival (health, nutrition, water and sanitation), education, child protection, social policy, community development and communications, as well as staff from UNICEF’s field offices.

UNICEF staff talks to school-children during the joint field visit to Battambang province, where the delegation saw efforts to promote positive discipline in schools. 
©UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Chum

On the last day of the mission, UNICEF Cambodia Representative Debora Comini commended all involved for investing their time in this joint field monitoring visit and for engaging in the reflection exercise.

Ms. Comini reiterated that the well-being of children is the result of collaboration among all sectors and at all levels from policy-setting, to budget allocation, to service delivery. 

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