By Haruna Gimba
Sokoto State Government and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have signed N2billion agreement for the implementation of the 2016 work plan in areas covering health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene.
A statement by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal Spokeperson, Malam Imam Imam the work plan is aimed accelerating the realisation of the rights of all children and women to survival, development, protection and participation.
In the agreement, signed by governor Tambuwal and UNICEF’s Chief of Field for Sokoto, Mr. Mohammad Mohiuddin, the state government will contribute the sum of N1,083,384,750 while UNICEF will provide the sum of N1,006,865,500.
“The agreement has the following key objectives: improved access to, and use of high quality and high impact health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions for women and children; and improving access to quality basic education by the most vulnerable boys and girls, and increased school retention, completion and achievement rates for all,” Mohiuddin said in the statement.
Both parties agreed that the status of the socio-demographic and development indicators carried out in Sokoto between 2013 and 2015 need to be improved upon.
“At the moment, both infant mortality and under-five mortality rates are high (89/1000 and 185/1000 respectively). 55.3% of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, 35% of under-five children are
underweight; 10.3% of under-five children are wasted, while exclusive breastfeeding for children 0-5months is only 10.3%.
“In education, out of school children accounts for 66.83% of total school going children, net attendance ration at primary level is 39.8% for boys and 24.6% for girls, while gender parity index for primary level is 0.55,” he added.
Mohiuddin said while there are proven interventions already on ground to address the challenges, what is required now is a strong government political commitment, release of financial resources and collaboration with development partners towards implementation of the work plan.
In his remarks, Tambuwal said his administration appreciates the need to turn around the negative statistics, and will work assiduously with UNICEF and other development.
He said: “We have the political will, and determination, to get it right. We are confident that at the end of this agreement, substantial progress would be made. We will keep to our side of the bargain and we thank UNICEF for taking the leading in helping us in this direction.”