With a population of 60 million, representing five per cent of India’s population, Gujarat in western India has evolved from an ancient shipping power to a modern-day industrial state. It has the longest coastline of 1,600 km, and shares borders with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as well as an international border with Pakistan.
Gujarat’s economic development has often been acclaimed as being a highly effective growth and private sector-driven model. In fact, the average growth rate of GDP in Gujarat over the past two decades has been higher than the national average, and more balanced than the other high growth-rate states. This is primarily because of improved performance across sectors, especially that of agriculture and industry.
However, in terms of overall social development, Gujarat has many more miles to cover to ensure that its economic growth translates into improved and sustainable human development. Although there has been significant improvement in terms of health and education infrastructure over the years, the challenge remains to further improvethe access to these basic services to bycommunities in remote and marginalized rural areas.
In the sphere of social development, one of the main challenges faced by Gujarat is the high prevalence of child under-nutrition, coupled with a slow reduction in the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR). These challenges have drawn the necessary attention of the State Government and form a critical partnership area for UNICEF.
Challenges and Opportunities
Access to basic services by Gujarats 14.76 per cent tribal population is constrained by difficult geographical reach, isolated habitations and prevalent social norms. To combat this, the State Government has adopted a Taluka-centric approach , which offers the opportunity to build the capacities of local institutions and government functionaries for enhanced service delivery and demand-generation in core areas relating to UNICEFs mandate for children.
In recent years, social infrastructure in areas such as health and education has improved significantly. This can, to some extent, be attributed to the increased
UNICEF in Action
UNICEF established its office in Gujarat in 1992, and since then has been collaborating with the Government of Gujarat to support the accelerated and sustained wellbeing of children in the state. Inclusion and participation of disadvantaged children continues to be a high priority.
UNICEF works closely with various departments at state, district and sub-district levels, as well as withcivil society institutions such as networks of women, youth and childrens organizations, NGOs, professional bodies, academia and research organizations, among others.
As a result of these partnerships, successful and replicable models in health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, and child protection have been developed and scaled up to deliver measurable results for children.
The emphasis has been on building the governments capacity