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Effective investment for educational infrastructure

This is the abstract from "UNICEF Child-Friendly Schools: a Project to change lives in Africa"

The original document reviews the effectiveness of UNICEF-supported construction programs for African countries development process, having Rwanda as a case study.


To understand the need of educating children for a better future is not complicated, yet to grasp the requirements to fully achieve it is a different issue. The social context is multi-layered and the interconnected aspects go deeper than simply having books and classrooms.

UNICEF is one of the biggest international agencies dealing with these complex issues. It is developing cross-cutting strategies to have an effect on the greater picture of children’s rights. In the process of fulfilling its goals and mission, Country Offices sometimes have the need to undertake construction activities. Assistance to construction works is part of service delivery to children. UNICEF is involved in school construction by advocating Child-Friendly School principles.

Despite all the obstacles in the process, Country Offices have taken advantage of new opportunities to draw money into this highly important sector. The scale of school construction may vary for each country, yet there are three common forms of UNICEF involvement, which depend on existing socio-political conditions and human capacity.
The case of Rwanda, where UNICEF is engaged via financial administration through the Government, shows that even when willingness and close collaboration exists between both major partners, other obstacles hinder on-time completion. Thus, financial administration through the Government is not result-based efficient.

However, financial administration via a partner in a country with good political environment for policy-making allows for deeper relationships, capacity-building, and linkage of strategies. Rwanda represents an outstanding example of this procedure as larger, harmonizing actions were taken.

Consequently, if the political situation is steady and government is soundly engaged in policies, the most advantageous option for UNICEF to support school construction in Africa is financial administration through the Governments. Long-term added values are the rationale to plan for it.

Additional note for this post:
The case UNICEF + Rwanda Gov't is particularly easy flowing.  This occurs because the goals of UNICEF don't go against an established system or plan.  It doesn't imply changing Gov't structure or higher level decision-making customs, which is the case of agencies like UNDP, where relationships can get tense for governance and poverty-reduction concerns.


Anonymous said...

A very interesting hindsight on Unicef's work, thank you. Would you say that the variations noted in the capacity for on-time completion highlight the need for a case-by-case approach?

Tulio Mateo said...

I would say yes. Each country has a different pace for bureaucracy and administration.
Nevertheless, the organization can push for improvements, like using the mentioned approach. The pros and cons should also be taken into consideration with the UN Reform, which is supposed to look for an integrated approach from all UN agencies.

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