Speech of Ms. Lotta Sylwander, Representative, UNICEF Viet Nam at the launch of An Analysis of the Situation of Children in Dien Bien

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Date: 12 May 2011
Event:
An Analysis of the Situation of Children in Dien Bien Launch
Venue:
Melia Hotel Ha Noi
Event: Launch of an Analysis of the Situation of Children in Dien Bien

It is a privilege and a pleasure to be here today to launch the “Analysis of the Situation of Children in Dien Bien province” in Ha Noi, following the successful launch of the national Situation Analysis on the 31st of august 2010. I would like to bring to your attention that this Analysis is the first in a series currently being undertaken at the provincial level. These follow the same comprehensive approach as the national report, but allow for a more in-depth analysis, using specific provincial data. They also necessitate a close partnership with the provinces, both in preparing the report and following up on its recommendations.

Today is the culmination of a long and intense cooperation: work on this document started back in 2009 and included an in-depth research process and close consultations with local stakeholders. It is therefore to our great satisfaction that key findings and recommendations of this report are being shared with you today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Analysis presents a comprehensive picture of the situation of children in Dien Bien. It confirms the province’s progress regarding children across a broad range of social and economic issues and in line with its socio-economic development achievements in recent years.

Indeed, Dien Bien is demonstrating impressive leadership for its children: overall social expenditure in the province increased more than threefold from 2005 to 2009, with expenditure on healthcare increasing almost fivefold. As the Analysis shows, this commitment to child rights is paying off, contributing to improvements in education, health and survival outcomes for children. More children in Dien Bien are now in school, immunization rates have improved, child mortality has decreased, and many more children have access to clean water and sanitation.

Yet, there remains an unfinished agenda for children. In particular, great intra-provincial disparities exist between the province’s districts, different ethnicities and income groups. All children, irrespective of whether they are born in the city or in a mountainous village, or whether they come from a poor or a rich family, should have access to clean water, nutritious food and quality health care and education. This is not yet the case.

Disparities are also evident when comparing Dien Bien with other provinces in the region and nation-wide. Dien Bien is the second poorest province in the country with a poverty rate of nearly 40%, just after Lai Chau. Looking at child poverty through a multi-dimensional lens, we find that Dien Bien has one of Viet Nam’s highest rates of infant mortality and stunting: 33 out of every 1000 babies die during their first year of life and 35 out of every 100 are stunted. Dien Bien also has one of the country’s lowest rates of secondary enrolment and hygienic sanitation coverage. In particular, I wish to draw your attention to the risks for children of the alarmingly high HIV infection rate in Dien Bien. In 2008 there were almost 150 new HIV infections per 100,000 people, more than 7 times the national average!

Ladies and gentlemen,

We must overcome these challenges if we want all Dien Bien children, irrespective of whether they live in Muong Nhe, Muong Cha or in Dien Bien Phu city, whether they are Mong, Phu la, Kho Mu,Thai or Kinh to equitably realise their rights as children and grow into healthy and productive members of Vietnamese society. Therefore, let us come together, celebrate the positive achievements outlined in this report and embrace the challenges ahead. I would like to highlight a few key recommendations that follow from this report:

The report is timely as Dien Bien is currently finalizing its SEDP and sectoral plans, providing the ideal opportunity to implement these recommendations. It therefore gives me immense pleasure to be informed of the commitment, as expressed by the provincial People’s Committee at the launch in Dien Bien, to use this Analysis as the reference document for all planning activities by provincial line departments and agencies. The strong leadership for children of provincial authorities that we have witnessed through our several years of cooperation with Dien Bien makes me optimistic that the future is bright for the children of Dien Bien province. I call upon the leadership of Dien Bien to implement the key recommendations as identified in this Analysis. UNICEF stands ready to assist in any way we can.

In conclusion, I do hope that with this workshop all of us, as representatives of line ministries, donors, embassies, UN agencies, NGOs will understand the agenda for action in Dien Bien province, and hereafter, with new insights and renewed energy, will complement the province’s efforts and muster the resources at our disposal in favour of Dien Bien’s children. The recommendations in the report are loud and clear, the time for action is upon us.

From our side, UNICEF looks forward to further strengthening this valuable partnership, and, together, build the best Dien Bien for all of its children.

Thank you.