In total, the European Commission has contributed €845 million to UNICEF in the last seven years across all areas, of which €203.5 million has been spent on education and €52million on child protection projects.

The UNICEF Executive board, which takes place in New York, is a key opportunity for the EU and UNICEF to come together to take stock of what has been achieved so far and to discuss future cooperation.

The EU and UNICEF have worked as strategic partners in the last seven years in a joint mission to help partner countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); specifically those related to child protection, maternal and child health, polio, education and nutrition.

In total, the European Commission has contributed €845 million to UNICEF in the last seven years across all areas, of which €203.5 million has been spent on education and €52million on child protection projects.

€320 million of this funding have been committed through country-based contracts from the European Development Fund (EDF) to accelerate progress on the specific Millennium Development Goals of health, education and nutrition. 

1) Cooperation in focus: working together to improve child and maternal health in the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries

In Ethiopia, €40.4 million will contribute to improving maternal and newborn health through increased access and utilisation of quality maternal and newborn health services. These include improving health facilities, through quality equipment and further trained staff. The project aims to reduce the number of deaths in childbirth from 676 per 100,000 live births (in 2011) to 267 by 2015.

In Zambia, €41.5 million will be used to improve maternal and neonatal child health, as well as nutrition; addressing one of the main causes for child mortality. The increased use of quality health and nutrition services by vulnerable women and children aims to reduce the number of neonatal death in the affected areas by 40%.

In Malawi, €17.6 million EU funding will contribute to national efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for water and environmental sanitation. Over 720,000 school children of at least 1,200 primary schools will benefit from improved sanitation facilities, improved water supply and hygiene services.

51,000 people in Mozambique will gain access to clean water and sanitation facilities, thanks to an EU contribution of €9 million to be used for the development of cost effective and sustainable water supply and sanitation services.

In Niger, UNICEF works towards the prevention of chronic malnutrition and the improvement of nutrition habits of mothers and children. EU funding of €9.5 million will improve the health and nutrition of 1.6 million children under the age of 5 and their mothers.

Thanks to a three-year programme in Guinea-Bissau, funded with €1.8 million, over 357,000 pregnant mothers and children under five-years old will have improved access to quality maternal and child health care; thereby further reducing the number of deaths of children and mothers.

EU funding of €23 million will help to improve essential health care services in Sierra Leone, improving access to health care for children, pregnant and lactating women.

Thanks to a €3.7 million EU contribution, more people in urban areas in Somalia will have access to safe and clean water, especially the most vulnerable, including children and mothers.

In Timor Leste, €10 million EU funding will help to reach the aim of reducing the number of underweight children by 5% by the end of 2014. 124,000 children and their mothers will benefit from improved access to maternal and infant and young child health and nutrition programming, including nutrition communication.

2) Cooperation in focus: Working together to combat Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage

Between 2008-2012, EuropeAid provided €3.9 million support to UNICEF for the Contributing to the Abandonment of Social Norms Harmful to Girls and Women: A Matter of Gender Equality” Project.

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage affect the lives of millions of girls every year. Estimates show that up to 125 million girls and women have undergone some form of FGM and are living with painful complications. Each year around three million girls – 8,000 a day – suffer from the practice. Girls are generally aged between five and 11 and most girls are cut without any medical supervision.

While millions of girls and women are still at risk of being subjected to FGM/C, progress has been made towards ending this harmful practice. The EU has worked with UNICEF as partners to stamp out these practices and through a joint project on the abandonment of social norms which are harmful to girls and women, UNICEF and the EU have supported families, communities and countries to end female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage.

It’s already having a real impact – Senegal for example, has made astonishing progress, thanks to EU and international support. In just under a decade, over 5,300 communities have abandoned the practice, bringing the country close to becoming the first in the world to declare total abandonment, expected by 2015.

The EU provided support to organise large-scale community discussion sessions based on human rights, collective decision-making in communities and extended social networks, and community and district-wide public declarations for the abandonment of FGM/C.

The project contributed to helping to save thousands of girls from female genital mutilation in five African countries: Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Senegal and Sudan. In Egypt, the number of families declaring abandonment of FGM/C increased from 3,000 in 2007 to 17,772 families in 2011.

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