UNICEF Success Stories

Kathmandu, 12 Feb 2014 - Nepal is one of the four nations worldwide rolling out an initiative to integrate aspects of Child Social and Financial Education (CSFE) in the national curriculum. Developed jointly by UNICEF and technical partner Aflatoun, CSFE enables children and adolescents to become socially and economically empowered and encourages them to lead responsible lives and become agents of change.

Nepal’s Ministry of Education (MoE) organized a two-day workshop in Kathmandu in January to create a plan of action for the rollout of CSFE in Nepal.

As part of the initial phase of the rollout, Nepal will test components of CSFE curriculum at 15 schools and five alternative education centres across the five development regions.

“The national curriculum already includes some aspects of social and financial education,” said Dr. Rojnath Pandey, Under-secretary, MoE. “We hope the CSFE integration will strengthen the curriculum further and make children and adolescents more aware.”

This initiative is also expected to contribute to the Ministry of Education's responsibilities, as stated in the National Plan of Action, on Holistic Adolescent Development in Nepal. The NPA has a 10-year vision of an empowered and competent new generation for a better Nepal.

UNICEF will be providing a financial support of USD 100,000 for the rollout of the two-year initiative in Nepal, which is expected to last until 2016.

“Our focus is on learning and ensuring children and adolescents secure basic skills such as literacy and numeracy as well as a wider range of competencies that will help them survive and thrive in a complex environment,” said Maida Pasic, Education Specialist for Capacity Development at UNICEF Headquarters in New York. “This is not just about focusing on saving money, but also saving resources and developing social responsibility.”

She went on to outline how adolescents should be understood as both current and future social and economic actors, whose decisions will influence development in Nepal. Important values of citizenship and skills in managing financial resources at an early age can lessen social and financial vulnerability, thereby reducing the risk of poverty caused by debt.

Since 2012, UNICEF Nepal has been implementing financial literacy for adolescents in out-of-school settings under its adolescent development and participation program and advocating for CSFE in schools. Through this new initiative, that work is being extended to include primary and secondary school children and adolescents.

The workshop was attended by officials from various national educational organizations, including the Curriculum Development Centre, National Centre for Educational Development, Non Formal Education Centre, University Grants Commission, Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training, Higher Secondary Education Board as well as UNICEF.

Kathmandu, Nepal, 9 December 2013 – In a major boost to the sport of cricket in Nepal and to the delight of millions of young fans, the Government of Nepal has named Paras Khadka the National Champion for 1000 Golden Days and Hand washing with soap campaigns.

At a ceremony on 5 December, the Ministry of Health and Population, in partnership with UNICEF, conferred the title on the much-loved captain of the popular National Cricket Team, making Paras the most popular and visible Nepali to promote nutrition and sanitation in the country.

The event capped a week of celebrations in Nepal to congratulate the team, who have for the first time, qualified for the upcoming Twenty-20 Cricket World Cup in 2014.

“I commit to putting in the same amount of dedication and discipline to promote hand washing with soap and nutrition in Nepal as we did to qualifying for the World Cup,” said the captain to applause from his teammates, at the packed conference room at the Ministry of Health and Population.

Almost 50 per cent of Nepalese children under-5 are chronically malnourished. The period from conception to 1000 days is considered the Golden days of a child’s life when 90 per cent of the child’s brain development takes place; half of the chronic under-nutrition (stunting) happens during pregnancy, and the remaining half during the first two years after birth.

If the causes of malnutrition are tackled at the onset, and proper feeding habits ensured for mother and child, malnutrition can be reversed and lives saved.

Every year 5,000 children under-5 die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices. However, just hand washing with soap by mothers and caretakers can help prevent up to 44 per cent of deaths of newborn children.

“It’s sad that we’re in the 21st century, our team has qualified for the World Cup, and we still have so many children dying from preventable causes. We pledge to work with all stakeholders, and we’re so proud to have the Nepal Cricket Captain to help us fight this,” said Hon. Vidhyadhar Mallik, the Minister for Health and Population.

Tie-ups with sports and role models pack a powerful punch

Cricket is the most popular sport in the country, and UNICEF Nepal has been working with the Cricket Association of Nepal and the cricket team to promote other campaigns through the medium of sport.

To mark the International Day of Disability on 3 December, UNICEF helped organised a half-time cricket match between members of the Cricket Association of the Blind Nepal, and visiting international cricketers who were in town to play in the 5-Day Road to World Cup Championship.

Former Indian batting legend VVS Laxman and UNICEF Country Representative Hanaa Singer put on blindfolds and participated in the demonstration match, which was broadcast live on Kantipur Television and viewed by eight million Nepalese households.

Providing another major boost to the partnership, Sachin Tendulkar, considered one of the greatest batsmen in the world, recently signed up to become UNICEF’s Regional Goodwill Ambassador for sanitation in South Asia.

Also present on the occasion to launch Paras as the National Champion was Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Country Representative in Nepal.

“Good nutrition must go hand in hand with hygiene and sanitation to be an effective foundation for survival, growth, and development. This is the only way to bowl-out chronic under-nutrition and promote hygiene behaviours in Nepal, and Paras we are counting on you to hit the next 1000 Golden runs for this new goal,” said Ms. Singer.

Nawalparasi, Nepal, 24 December 2013 – It was an issue that not many people in Pragatinagar Village Development Committee had thought about.
Female students of the VDC in Nawalparasi district of southern Nepal had to drop everything and go back home whenever they had their menstruation in school.
“It was very difficult and embarrassing for us.” said Pratima Dhakal, 16. “It also had negative impact in our studies.”
Fortunately for Pratima and thousands of girls like her, the child representatives in a local health management committee brought the sensitive issue forward. The committee then decided to request the VDC to allocate funds to purchase sanitary pads and make them available in all 16 schools there.
The VDC not only allocated funds but also appointed a female teacher in each school as the point of contact for distribution of the pads.
“Now we don’t have to leave school,” Pratima said. “Our studies is also not affected.”
The scenario is one of many examples of how children and adults are working together in the VDC across multiple sectors to ensure children’s participation in local planning and budgeting.
On Dec. 24, Pragatinagar was declared as the first child friendly VDC in Nepal in line with the Government's National Strategy on Child Friendly Local Governance (CFLG), approved by the Cabinet in 2011. UNICEF has worked closely with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development and has provided technical and financial support for CFLG since the inception.
CFLG mainstreams child rights in the policies structures processes of local governance as well as promotes and facilitates the prioritization of children rights in planning and budgeting. It also ensures participation of children in these processes, such that their voices are heard. CFLG also provides platform for sectoral convergence.
Under CFLG strategy, a VDC, municipality or district has to achieve at least 80 percent of the targets specified in the 27 CFLG indicators to be declared as child friendly. These indicators include various aspects of child survival, protection, development and participation such as immunization, breast feeding, access to safe drinking water, birth registration, establishment and functioning of child club networks, child club representations in local committees, etc.
Pragatinagar has allocated 15 percent of their budget for children and ensured that all schools have separate toilets for boys and girls. The VDC also has 100 percent immunization coverage, literacy and birth registration. All Pragatinagar households use iodized salt and there are no instances of child marriage. These are all evidences of the VDC’s commitment and dedication towards CFLG.
Creating a space and mechanism to listen to children and ensuring their meaningful participation is a core element of CFLG. Nepal is one of the few countries in the region where the government has ensured mechanisms to listen to children at the deepest level of local governance. About 80,000 children from child clubs are represented in the 40,000 Ward Citizens Forums (WCFS) of the Local Governance and Community Development Programme (LGCDP), and in the 3915 VDC level integrated planning committees – the key committee that makes the decisions on the allocation of block grants; and in the CFLG committees at district, municipal and VDC level.
CFLG has also been mainstreamed into the Government’s broader Local Governance and Community Development Programme (LGCDP). The Government of Nepal has made children and their rights a priority and has earmarked US$40 million per year from block grants that goes into budgeting and planning for children, women and the disadvantaged. Within Nepal, CFLG is well underway in 39 districts, 15 municipalities and 300 Village Development Committees and is being rolled out nationally through LGCDP Phase 2.
But policy unless practiced is of no value. And Pragatinagar VDC has led by example. Child club members are participating in all nine Ward Citizen Forums, in the integrated planning Committee in the all the school management committees (15), health management committees and the CFLG VDC committee.
The celebratory declaration event was attended by UNICEF Representative Hanaa Singer, Hon. Vidhyadhar Mallik, the Minister of Federal Affairs and Local Development, other government and UNICEF officials and thousands of residents.
“It is the advocacy done by you that has resulted in this great achievement,” said Ms. Singer to Pragatinagar children. “Also, thanks to your great adults in this village who have listened to you and have allowed you to be change agents.”
With integration of child friendly initiatives in its local governance, Nepal is considered as one of the 3 pioneering nations in the world, along with the Philippines and Brazil, in terms of CFLG.
“I would like to congratulate everyone in Pragatinagar on achieving this milestone,” Hon. Vidhyadhar Mallik said. “I am hopeful that you will fulfil your commitment to continue ensuring that Pragatinagar remains a child friendly VDC.”
CFLG positively impacts Pragatinagar children
CFLG practices in Pragatinagar have allowed children like Pratima to be integral part of the local governance.
Pratima is the chairperson of the VDC’s Child Club Network and Jagriti Club, the first legally registered child club in Nepal. She is also involved in health management committee, integrated planning committee and ward citizen forum (the VDC comprises of 9 wards).
With child representatives in all local planning committees, she said that children’s voices are being heard throughout Pragatinagar. A request by Mukti Child Club of Ward No. 7 for a park for children resulted in the VDC providing land for a children’s park as well as allocating NRs. 70,000 towards the project. Similarly, requests from girl child representatives in school management committees and district child club network ensured up to NRs. 30,000 for construction of separate toilets for girls and boys in all schools
She also said that CFLG helps develop communication and leadership skills in children from early on.
“Earlier I used to be scared to speak in front of adults,” she said. “Now I can confidently present my ideas and opinions.”
Arman Miya also feels the same way.
The 15-year-old is the secretary of the district-level child club network.
He said that earlier he would hesitate to ask questions in class even if he didn’t understand the lesson. But following his experiences in child clubs, he has become confident and doesn’t hesitate to ask questions in class.
“This has definitely had a positive impact in my studies,” he said.
Positive experience with CFLG in Pragatinagar has encouraged both Pratima and Arman to decide to work in the field of child rights and protection when they grow up.
“By being involved in child clubs, I learned a lot,” Arman said. “I would like to share this with other children as well.”
Beginnings of CFLG in Nepal
Pragatinagar’s journey towards a child friendly VDC had its beginning in the early 2000 when UNICEF Nepal with support of partners like the Norwegian government and others, started working with women and children in the grassroots under the principles of decentralized planning in 23 districts, of which Nawalparasi was one. The experiences that UNICEF garnered through programs like Decentralized Action for Children and Women in Nepal have fed into the CFLG strategy. This national strategy has provided coherent guidance nationally and allowed Pragatinagar to achieve the CFLG milestone.
Pragatinagar resident Laxmi Ghimire Acharya remembers the time when she volunteered as a community mobilizer going door-to-door weighing babies, collecting data about which households had toilets, spreading awareness about the importance of immunization, etc.
Today, the 38-year-old is employed as a village facilitator by the VDC. She is being provided medical insurance and a bicycle, which helps her travel throughout the VDC.
The local ownership of the programme, combined with progressive adults who are ready to lend an ear to children, is one of the reasons of the success of CFLG in Pragatinagar, according to Mrs. Acharya.
UNICEF’s commitment towards CFLG continuity
Though Pragatinagar has achieved a lot in terms of CFLG, the VDC and the rest of the nation still has a long way to go, said Ms. Singer.
“Today is just the beginning. Today we declare one VDC as child friendly,” she said. “We hope to create a cascade movement so that we can turn more VDCs child friendly and turn municipalities into child friendly and ultimately create a child friendly nation.”
At the event, she called on all children and adults to work towards making Nepal a country fit for children.
“Like you made your VDC child friendly, promise to be the trail blazer to make Nepal also child friendly country,” she said.
Ms. Singer also expressed UNICEF’s commitment towards continued support in ensuring the rights of children by providing intensive support to CFLG in the 15 priority districts and further support roll in all 75 districts, in collaboration with the Government’s LGCDP Phase Two, where CFLG is a core component.

Kathmandu, Nepal, 13 December 2013 – Amrita Gyawali is full of energy and positive attitude.

Despite being a wheelchair user because of a spinal injury cord resulting from a bus accident at age 3, she is determined to raise awareness about the various issues concerning people with disability.

“We need to be thinking about making our public places as disable friendly as possible,” she said demonstrating a model of disable friendly restroom at a recent career expo for people with disability.

The UNICEF-supported event was held in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 13 in participation with Nepal Government’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, national organizations for people with disability and various national and international non-profit organizations.

Organized for the second year in a row, the event marked the 22nd International Day of the Persons with Disabilities and was a venue for job seekers with disability and organizations to come together to discuss aspects of employment process such as preparing a resume, interview techniques, making workplace disable-friendly, etc.

Amrita, with her new job as the equity and inclusion consultant at Water Aid Nepal, was the perfect role model for the job seekers at the expo.

“When employers hire people with disability, they don’t hire them because of their disability,” she said. “They hire them because of their qualification and experience.”

Hence, they need to be willing to work hard to obtain those qualification and experience, she added. She further encouraged people with disability to “speak up and fight for your right.”

Amrita herself is no stranger to hard work. She completed her bachelor in psychology and sociology through self-study when her disability prevented her from attending disable unfriendly schools, which included classrooms in first and second floors, traditional Nepali-style restrooms which needed squatting, etc.

It is these experiences that have inspired her to work towards raising awareness about the importance of disable friendly infrastructure.

“It is very difficult for people with disability to gain and retain employment until the workplace and transportation to and from workplace is disable friendly,” she said.

She also highlighted the importance of education in the development of people with disability.

Her sentiment was reiterated by the event’s chief guest Honorable Mr. Khil Raj Regmi, Chairman of Council of Ministers.

“In order for the empowerment of people with disability and to create a favourable environment for their social participation, it is important to provide them with equal access to education and health care as well as opportunities for professional skills development,” he said. “The Government is committed to working with all related stakeholders to develop employment opportunities for people with disability.”

He also said that programs like these are effective towards developing confidence and entrepreneurship among people with disability.

In addition to employment related presentations and workshops from various organizations, including the UN, the expo also included stalls displaying and selling items created by people with disability.

The expo also allowed job seekers with disability to register for free with merojob.com, an employment website, which will post the job seekers’ profiles online bringing them one step closer to employment. Last year, 28 job seekers found employment following the career expo.

Waiting to get his profile created at the merojob.com stall was Nawraj Jaigadi.

The 30-year-old, who lost sight about seven years ago, is seeking employment and training opportunities that might help him support his family financially.

“I hope this will lead to something,” he said.

Similarly hopeful was Nirmaya Magrati.

But for the 21-year-old who has been using crutches since she was seven years old, employment meant self-dependence.

About 15 per cent of people with disability in Nepal are reliant on their families and relatives while only 5 per cent of them are involved in some economic activities, according to national statistics.

“I want to stop relying on other people and be able to stand on my own feet,” she said.