Unicef Putting Last First Child Millenium Goals
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), putting the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach children first will speed up progress towards achieving the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Since their adoption in 2000, the MDGs have achieved huge results for children around the world, and have helped guide global and national priorities. Thanks to these global and national efforts, mortality rates for children under five have been halved, fewer people live in poverty, less women die in childbirth, and 2.1 billion people gained access to clean drinking water between 1990 and 2011.

Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, said that while these successes should be celebrated, the focus should now be on the millions of children who are still left behind. “It is unacceptable that poverty, gender, and geographic location so often determine whether a child will love or die, be able to go to school or grow up uneducated,” said Lake.

Nearly 6.6 million children under the age of five died in 2012, or roughly 18,000 children per day. Most of these deaths were due to preventable causes. If this current trend holds, the fourth MDG will not be met until 2028. This means that an additional 35 million children will die between 2015 and 2028.

The UNICEF-supported global movement—”Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed”—is mobilizing political commitment and civil society partners in an effort to turn the promise of the MDGs into action.

Worldwide, 99 million children under five years old are underweight, and 162 million children are stunted or chronically malnourished. UNICEF plays a major role in the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) movement that works with numerous countries in developing national plans to tackle malnutrition.

More children than ever are attending primary school, but, in 2011, a reported 57 million children of primary school age were not in school. More than half of these children lived in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, fewer girls are enrolled in secondary school than boys.

UNICEF plays an additional major role in the Global Partnership for Education. This partnership consists of 60 developing countries, donor governments, international organizations, and additional partners. The partnership develops and implements sound education practices, as well as mobilizes resources to enroll more children in school.

“Children are not only the inheritors of the planet. They will actively shape its future,” said Lake. The survival, health, education, and well-being of children are, indeed, essential for sustainable development and prosperity.

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: UNICEF, The World Bank, Child Info, World Food Programme
Photo: Marquetteducator