By Hajara Leman
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says it has begun the creation of child-friendly communities in two Local Government Areas of Gombe state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the LGAs identified for the programme include Balanga in Gombe South and Dukku in Gombe North, with three communities in each of the areas.
Mr Bhanu Pathak , UNICEF’s Chief Field Officer in Bauchi, stated this in Gombe at the inception meeting of its Child friendly Community Initiative programme.
He said that the inception meeting was to build the capacity of stakeholders in what they were expected to do during the implementation of the programme.
Pathak said there were a lot of issues affecting children in Gombe, which included nutrition, education and immunisation, hence the need to implement the programme.
According to him, over 600 children are out of school in Gombe, which is a serious problem.
“In the area of nutrition, more than 50 per cent of Gombe children are stunted,which is higher than the National figure; this is worrisome and needs to be addressed holistically,” he said.
The UNICEF official said that at the end of the meeting, participants are expected to know their roles and responsibilities, from state to LG and ward levels.
He said that subsequently, the Initiative would be extended to cover the entire state since UNICEF had been supporting and implementing child support programmes on Water, Sanitation, Health and Education in the state.
Declaring the meeting open, Dr Isiaku Mohammed, Special Adviser to Governor Inuwa Yahaya on Budget Planning and Development Partner Coordination, said the governor had expressed political will to partner all developmental partners for the betterment of the state and citizens.
He said that the state government was not happy with the deplorable condition of health, as well as the poor indices attached to various health sector.
He expressed optimism that Gombe would become a shining state in the North-East sub-region, in spite of the challenges.
In his speech, Malam Jalo Ali, Permanent Secretary, Budget Planning Development Partners Coordination office, Gombe, said that children and women were faced with multiple challenges in Gombe.
Represented by Mr Ngalbang Danborno, the Director, Planning in the office, said that UNICEF’s interventions in the state were visible.
He urged the participants to be attentive and take advantage of the intervention for the welfare of the entire people of the state .
NAN reports that the 40 participants were in attendance, drawn from ministries of Health, Education and Women affairs.