Govt, UNICEF Ink $125m Deal on Child Projects

JAKARTA ~ The government and the UN children’s agency signed off on a new agreement this week aimed at raising the living standards of children throughout the archipelago, UNICEF’s Indonesia representative said.

The US$125-million agreement will encompass a range of projects to tackle mother and child health and education in 2008, Gianfranco Rotigliano said.

A focus of next year’s efforts would be promoting proper sanitation for children “which means advocacy and behavior change for children to wash their hands and putting taps into schools,” Rotigliano said.

The annual work plan is to also include construction of 130 new schools in Aceh province, the area worst hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, he said.

UNICEF also secured Indonesian government agreement for HIV/AIDS prevention and education, particularly in the eastern Papua region, where the disease is most widespread, UNICEF spokeswoman Kendartanti Subroto said.

Indonesia has had mixed progress in recent years in improving the lives of its children.

While infant mortality has dropped significantly to 30 deaths per 1,000 live births, there has been little or no improvement in rates of malnutrition, maternal mortality or access to safe water, UNICEF said in a statement.

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