With a population of more than 200 million people, Uttar Pradesh (UP) is Indias most populous state, roughly equal in size to Brazil. It is best recognized for the landmark monument, Taj Mahal, and the historic Hindu city of Varanasi.
A vibrant industrial and agricultural region, UP has struggled with one of the highest infant and child mortality rates in India. While the state has made significant gains on several key indicators over the past decade, according to the 2011 census the child sex ratio has deteriorated and the number of children forced into work has increased.
UNICEF is working closely with the Government of UP to bring in positive change, including strengthening the states vast health care network. There is a large network of groups and individuals to partner with in this aim, such as civil society and faith based organizations, legislators, academicians and media houses. UNICEF in UP has also played a crucial role in one of the worlds largest public health campaigns, mobilizing thousands of people to help eradicate polio from the state.
Although one-third of the states population lives below the poverty line and the state has the highest number of children who leave school to work, education programmes introduced by UNICEF and its partners are ensuring more children stay out of labour and go to school.
Life can be uncertain and, in many cases, cut short for children in UP. Each year, about 380,000 of the states children die before the age of five years, falling victim to malnutrition, diarrhoea and common childhood illnesses. UP also has the largest population of socially excluded communities scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other so-called backward castes and several indicators of health, nutrition and education are amongs
Challenges and Opportunities
A cycle of poverty, illness and death occurs in UP in part because many girls are married in their teens. Usually suffering from chronic malnutrition themselves, young wives have babies early and many do not survive childbirth. The Maternal Mortality Rate here is one of the highest in India.
UNICEF is playing a key role in addressing this cycle, in partnership with the Government of UP and NGO partners.
India has the highest number of malnourished children in the world, and UP is the state with the greatest number of malnourished children.
Once home to the most cases of polio in the country, UP has no
UNICEF in Action
UNICEF is supporting the Government of UP in addressing key concerns, from improving the reach of routine immunization programmes to the creation of care units for sick newborns at district hospitals. It is partnering in the creation of Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres and the extensive training of health workers to properly identify and treat common childhood diseases.
UNICEF is helping build protective environments through raising awareness amongst various stakeholders and communities about child rights. It also has a focus on supporting the government on the rollout of the Right to Education Act, to address issues of access to education for all children.
Protection of children from vulnerable and marginalized groups is another key area for UNICEF. UNICEF has carried out a substantial amount of work in UP to change attitude