Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Girl-Centered Movement for Change


By Felice Bakker, JPO, Child Protection

An illustration of workshop proceedings depicting the characteristics of the Indonesian Adolescent Girls Network ©UNICEF/Niken Larasati/2016
Jakarta: “The creation of a strong generation will not be achieved if the mother, who is the first source of education for a child, is a girl who is not yet ready to become a mother,” remarked women’s rights advocate and former First Lady (1999-2001) Ibu Sinta Nuriyah during the launch of the Indonesian Adolescent Girls Network in Jakarta.


The two-day workshop, held by UNICEF in partnership with Flamingo Social Purpose and Rumah KitaB, brought together advocates from 28 Indonesia-based organizations that focus on girls’ issues like child marriage, reproductive health and gender equality. The Network has been established to enable members to coordinate and implement interventions, scale them up, and develop synergies to achieve the best outcomes for adolescent girls. 


Chernor Bah, a youth and girl’s rights advocate and founder of the Sierra Leone Adolescent Girls Network, introduced participants to principles of what he calls ‘girl-centered programming’, a philosophy that starts with the belief that “the game is rigged against girls; they're set to lose—and when girls lose, everyone loses,” he said.


Globally, girls are generally less healthy, less educated and enjoy fewer rights than their male counterparts, facing systematic disadvantages because of discriminatory norms. As puberty begins, girls are more at risk of abuse, are required to take on a large share of domestic work and may drop out of school, becoming socially isolated. Even the locations girls are able to access, such as the market, health centre and library, shrink at puberty, while for boys they expand, according to a study in South Africa by the Population Council, a development think tank based in New York. Investing in girls not only promises significant economic returns, but promises to have far-reaching impacts on almost every development indicator, ranging from girls’ labour market participation, which will fuel economic growth, to improved health and education outcomes for future generations.[1]
Ibu Sinta Nuriyah, former First Lady (1999-2001) and women’s rights activist, encouraging participants to listen to the voices of Indonesia girls and to eliminate child marriage ©UNICEF/Sinta F Vermonte/2016

Girl-centred programming makes girls the focus of each and every programme decision; this includes determining which girls to target, when to target them, and how to monitor their progress. Such progamming can delay marriage, increase reproductive health knowledge, boost self-confidence and improve financial literacy.


During the workshop, network members agreed that empowering girls through building financial literacy, expanding social support networks, and improving their knowledge about health, would be the unifying mission. Combined, this work will reduce girls’ vulnerability, creating a bulwark against child marriage, teen pregnancy and school dropouts.


By putting girls at the centre, Indonesian Adolescent Girls Network members are now equipped to strengthen their important work. Members will meet monthly to share information on activities, to coordinate research and joint interventions, and to submit shared proposals for funding. One such joint initiative for an online platform for girls to connect with peers and mentors is already in the planning stages.


Participants from 28 organizations across Indonesia attending the two-day workshop. ©UNICEF/Sinta F Vermonte/2016




 




[1] Girls Count: A Global Investment and Action Agenda- ICRW- https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Girls-Count-A-global-Investment-and-Action-Agenda.pdf

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Let's High Five a Facer!

By: Dinda Veska

 


A facer telling the UNICEF Programme in the mall.
©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Surabaya.


‘They’re just like credit card salesmen, stopping us rudely!” the thinking goes. ‘If I could just avoid them, I would!’ At best people consider fundraising boring; at worst, it’s an act of pestering.

The fundraisers - we call them ‘Facers’ in Indonesia - are these young people wearing a UNICEF t-shirt we often see on the street or in the mall. In fact, they do an incredibly important job, informing people about the challenges faced by Indonesia’s most vulnerable and marginalized children.

Last week, I had an opportunity to join four UNICEF-Facers on a trip to Mamuju District, West Sulawesi, where they learned about the implementation of UNICEF-supported programmes. My first impression was that they were super-talkative. A useful trait, I thought, for people soliciting donations.              

On their trip to the Mamuju, the four Facers asked all kinds of questions to the local organizations that are implementing the government-run, UNICEF-supported programmes.  The questions were deep and informed, for instance concerning how data and facts were uncovered in the field.  

Later, armed with this newly gathered knowledge, the Facers will be better equipped to answer questions from potential donors. Indeed, that is the idea; to give Facers a better sense of the true impacts of interventions for children by sending them to the programme sites.

The motivation to learn and the spirit of service displayed by the four Facers in Mamuju was truly inspirational. Take Mey, a young woman who decided to become a Facer after her little sister died at a young age. “Maybe this is my chance to do something for my sister,” she told me. “Even though it’s not directly for her, at least I can say I am doing good things for children. Seeing the UNICEF banner at the job fair made me remember how my little sister died and I wasn’t by her side,” Mey said.

Understanding before judging, perhaps that’s the best thing to do. It may be irritating to have to sidestep Facers on the street when we are in a rush. But now I know I won’t always try to avoid them: They truly work hard to learn about the problems facing children in Indonesia and to raise money for a worthy cause. That deserves our appreciation.

So, the next time you see a Facer on the street, instead of running away, give them a high five and say good luck!

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things, with great love.” Mother Teresa

UNICEF  facers meet children in the field.
©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Dinda.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Back to School in Pidie Jaya

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer


Second grade students study in an education tent set up days after the 6.5m earthquake tore through three regencies, killing hundreds and displacing thousands in north western Aceh Province © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers


Pidie Jaya, Aceh: The crack starts near the door and cuts to the back wall through dusty tiles, a distance of some six or seven metres.

Considering the wreckage just a stone’s throw away – where homes lie in ruins, schools in piles of debris – the crack, which teachers at MIN Pangwa Islamic elementary school describe as the worst of the earthquake damage, might seem almost trivial.

But to Rajwa, 10, a fifth grade student, it is a kind of trigger -- a frightening reminder of an event that killed two of his classmates and forced his family from their home for weeks.

Rajwa outside MIN Pangwa © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

“I don’t want the earthquake to come back,” Rajwa says. “I don’t want to see the crack, I don’t want to go in there.”

Now, thanks to a tent supplied by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBP) on 27 December, Rajwa doesn’t have to.

Like students at some 200 schools across the three affected regencies, Rajwa will use the tent as a learning space as he awaits repairs to his classroom. It is a recovery initiative grounded in the belief that in times of disasters, education rises in importance.

A schoolteacher assists a child in one of two BNBP-supplied tents that allow students to keep learning as their damaged classrooms are repaired. © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

“Children don’t need education even in emergencies; they need education especially in emergencies,’’ UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake has said.  Indeed, research shows that in times of crisis, schools provide structure and routine that helps kids cope with fear, loss and stress.

With this in mind, the Government -- partnering with an array of organizations, including UNICEF -- has launched “Ayo Kembali Ke Sekolah”, a back-to-school campaign that seeks to achieve full attendance at schools by early January. At MIN Pangwa, teachers say attendance has reached about 70 per cent.

Down the road at SDN Peulandok Tunong, however, and teachers say students have been showing up for weeks.

“All but two of our 93 students are back today,” says Ibu Wardiah, deputy principal of the elementary school. A crop of second-graders practice reading clocks behind her, their last lesson of the day.

The school, which sits three kilometres down a narrow, paddy-fringed road, collapsed in the earthquake, making it one of the first to receive a tent on 11 December by the Ministry of Education. A second tent has since been set up by the BNBP to house more learning activities.   

 Ibu Wardiah, (far left) and fellow SDN Peulandok Tunong teachers gather outside a tent supplied by UNICEF to the Ministry of Education. Theirs was one of the first schools to reconvene in the early days after the earthquake. © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

The school’s close-knit crew of teachers saw the tents were key to helping children recover, so they went about organising fun and games with the help of local NGOs. On one memorable afternoon, volunteers came to teach kids a song about surviving earthquakes, a song students now know by heart.

“This is my village, these are my children,” said Ibu Wardiah, who has been teaching at the school for over 30 years. “We don’t know if other schools are like this, but we know ours is,” she said proudly.

Only on 2 January did teachers begin using the formal curriculum, “because in the end, reading, counting and writing -- these are the crucial things we have to teach our children,” Ibu Wardiah explained.

In locations where schools were damaged beyond repair, semi-permanent structures like this one at SDN Peulandok Tunong are being built by government contractors to replace tents. These temporary classrooms will allow children to study in a safer, more comfortable setting as they await the construction of their permanent facilities © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers.

According to head of the Pidie Jaya Department of Education Pak Saiful, other schools have struggled to replicate SDN Peulandok Tunong’s attendance success, partly because parents are still worried about safety; it was not lost on them, he said, that schools experienced some of the worst damage.

“We must ensure new schools are quake-resistant,” he said, blaming poor design and construction. “This cannot happen again.”

Poor construction lead to damage like this at SDN Peulandok Tunong, seen here just days after the quake. © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Yusra Tebe

According to UNICEF Indonesia Programme Assistant Said Ikram,“in Aceh it’s been lucky that the big earthquakes happened either before children arrived at school or after they went home. This earthquake has opened the eyes of people in Pidie Jaya about building safer schools."

With UNICEF’s assistance, authorities are still determining how many schools will need to be rebuilt. In the meantime, getting tents up and semi-permanent classrooms built will continue to be Pak Saiful’s top priority.

“We still have a need for 37 tents [as of 3 January], “he said. “My focus this month is to get as many students [as possible] back in school so they don’t fall behind for the national exam,” he said. The exams, scheduled for the spring, determine whether students are able to advance to the next grade.

Despite the test's importance, teachers at MIN Pangwa say it will be crucial to ease students back to normalcy at their own pace.

“For example, we usually let the students go at 12pm, but today let’s see how it goes,” said one schoolteacher who preferred not to be named. “Many [children] are still dealing with trauma, so it is important we don’t push, that we remain flexible,” he added.

For his part, Rajwa says he is excited to start learning again, scary cracks notwithstanding. He dreams of becoming an Army soldier, and says school will help him get there.

“We’ve been out of school so long,” he said, eyes darting to the ground in front of him. “I’m still scared sometimes, but coming here makes me happy.” 

Students at MIN Pangwa line up to buy cheap sticks of a lunchtime beef sausage known as sosis © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers
 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Yogyakarta survey reveals challenges and opportunities for ensuring access to clean water and sanitation

 By Aidan Cronin, Chief of WASH, Mitsunori Odagiri, UNICEF WASH Officer, and Bheta Aryad, Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Indonesia

Water quality sampling in Yogyakarta © UNICEF Indonesia / 2016/ Aidan Cronin


The Government of Indonesia has taken on a leading role in the South-East Asia region and globally in implementing the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One example of this commitment are the Government’s efforts to harmonize its own Five Year Development Plan (RPJMN) agenda with SDG 6 on the universal availability of clean water and sanitation by 2030. The RPJMN 2015-2019 is even more ambitious and seeks to ensure that 100 per cent of Indonesia’s population has access to safe drinking water by the end of 2019.

There is a clear commitment to progress. But a lack of evidence is blocking the way.

To address the problem, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Planning Ministry BAPPENAS, carried out a Water Quality Survey in the province of Yogyakarta in September last year as part of the National Socio-Economic Survey (Susenas). It was the first time such surveys were combined.

The Water Quality Survey carried out in Yogyakarta aimed to create a detailed overview of water quality, sanitation and hygiene at the household level, and to provide a baseline estimate of Indonesia’s progress on SDG water and sanitation development targets. It also aimed to provide data on the quality of drinking water for the Government of Yogyakarta and relevant stakeholders.

Nearly 1,000 households were surveyed for the study by a BPS Yogyakarta team. Detailed water analysis, meanwhile, was conducted by the Ministry of Health’s Centre for Environmental Health Engineering and Control of Diseases (BBTKLPP), with the main focus on the detection of E.coli faecal contamination. 

The analysis concluded that 89 per cent of source water samples were contaminated with E.coli; this despite high levels of access to an “protected water source”. The finding suggests that even protected drinking water sources remain at high risk of faecal contamination.

Around 67.1 per cent of samples of household drinking water, measured at the point of consumption, were found to be contaminated with E. coli. While boiling water was able to reduce the level of contamination, it was not found to eliminate traces of the bacteria altogether.

These two figures are of course very worrying. High levels of faecal contamination in source and household drinking water were found to correlate with poverty, rurality and low education levels, highlighting an urgent need for targeted interventions for the most vulnerable. The proportion of households with access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation facilities, as per the definition of the SDGs, were estimated at 8.5 per cent and 45.5 per cent, respectively. 

The survey team had to master additional tasks including delivering an additional dedicated water quality questionnaire along with taking water samples from the source and at the point of consumption in the house and then delivering the samples to the laboratory within 4 to 6 hours.  All these efforts have contributed to making Indonesia one of the few countries committed to establishing a baseline understanding of water safety in the country. For this the Government deserves to be further commended.

The report, launched by the Minister of BAPPENAS, Bambang Brodjonegoro, the Head of BPS, Kecuk Suhariyanto and UNICEF Representative Gunilla Olsson, recommends that the study be replicated in other provinces, and advises local governments to implement routine water-quality testing. It also urges improved coordination between central and local levels of government to seize on the new opportunities for progress that have been identified.

 

UNICEF is proud to have been able to provide technical support for such an important endeavour, as safe water is a key contributor to public health, and particularly to children’s health.

 

We know that over 40 per cent of infant deaths, for example, are caused by two killers: diarrhoea and pneumonia. We also know that water, sanitation and hygiene -- especially handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet -- can drastically cut these numbers. Studies have shown that the improvement of the water quality can reduce diarrhoea incidence by up to 30 per cent.

 

It has also become clear that water, sanitation and hygiene plays a crucial role in reducing malnutrition. Indonesia has a severe stunting problem, with 37 per cent of all children under five being stunted or too short for their age, constraining cognitive development and productivity later in life. A recent UNICEF study showed that children whose families lacked safe drinking water and proper sanitation were at a heightened risk of stunting.

 

“During the MDG period (2000-2015), Indonesia successfully reduced the proportion of people lacking access to a safe water sources by more than half. That is an incredible accomplishment. Today, the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) have shifted the emphasis from the source to the safety of the water. Doing so offers a unique opportunity to move ahead, as no SDG will be considered met if it is not met for all, everywhere.

 

The water quality survey proves we know how to chart a way forward, even if the road ahead is long.

 

To see a short Youtube clip on the this work please go to

Bahasa Indonesia: https://youtu.be/eBGd6fjHg4I

Thursday, December 15, 2016

UNICEF tents help keep kids learning after Aceh quake

By Cory Rogers

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits UNICEF education tent at the worst affected area from the 7 December 2016 earthquake in Aceh.   

Pidie Jaya, Indonesia - As thousands arose for predawn prayers last Wednesday in Pidie Jaya, Aceh Province, the ground beneath them suddenly began to thrash: Within minutes, 3,000 homes had been reduced to rubble, the roads between them split open in gashes.

According to the latest data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), 102 people were killed, over 300 injured and 85,000 displaced in the quake. A quarter of those killed were under the age of 18.

The effects of the earthquake go much further than the immediate impact however. Tens of thousands have lost their homes, but many others have lost access to services, to safe water, health and sanitation, not to mention education.