UNICEF in Action(Maharashtra)

UNICEF is working in partnership with the Maharashtra government to address a range of the state’s challenges. Chief among them is malnutrition. Interventions that promote nutrition in mothers during pre-pregnancy and pregnancy, and early and exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding in children younger than three years, are critical to reducing neonatal mortality, child mortality and undernourishment. Special emphasis is laid on reaching out children in tribal pockets and slums to address these issues.

UNICEF is the state government’s lead partner in strengthening reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health to accelerate the Call To Action  for child survival mission in 166 blocks and two Municipal Corporations in 19 districts whose health and nutrition indicators are below state average. UNICEF is providing technical support to assess supply chain management of essential health supplies in tribal areas and strengthen Routine Immunization (RI) in the state.

Through its Water Sanitation and Hygiene programme (WASH), UNICEF is working towards reducing disparities by ensuring access to sanitation services by tribals and other marginalized social groups. It is supporting Panchayat advocacy on WASH  through the PESA (Panchayat Extension for Scheduled Areas) programme, working on addressing drought and water scarcity, and championing the WASH in Schools programme.

Also in schools, UNICEF has played a significant role through its quality education initiatives, training teachers and framing guidelines to develop child-friendly Right to Education-compliant schools. The guidelines have been adopted by the state and issued to all schools, influencing the use of the various grants available at the school level. 

In partnership with the state and district education departments, UNICEF has also piloted a quality education initiative in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) educational facilities for girls, which is likely to be scaled up to all schools in the state. It has also promoted platforms like Meena Raju Manch (child cabinets) to address gender inequity in 22,000 upper primary schools across the state. UNICEF’s interventions in the area of education specially focus on the rights of girls, tribals, children in urban settings and adolescents.

Through the Sports for Development (S4D) programme and accelerating implementation of the Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) rural sports initiative scheme, a flagship programme of the Government of India, the UNICEF field office is reaching children and youth in 11 districts, using sports to teach them life skills, to stay in school and to become change agents at the community level. UNICEF is also a partner to the School Excellence Programme to address quality of education in urban areas.

In Maharashtra, UNICEF’s programmes often focus on youth, transmitting key messages and skills to this demographic. By acting as a conduit between UNICEF and the government on one side, and the local community on the other, trained village volunteers become change agents for their communities.

Through the Deepshikha programme, young women are given vital information about issues like rights, reproductive health and financial literacy, thereby boosting their awareness, capabilities and confidence. This is a big step towards ensuring an environment of equitable and sustainable development and accelerating progress towards achieving national and Millennium Development Goals.

The field office is conducting a series of child protection programmes that target specific tribes, urban communities, children of migrant families, girls and adolescents. These are helping address gender-based violence, child marriage and facilitating access to protection services and standards of care.

Concerted efforts have been made in areas with around 63 per cent of tribal population in Yavatmal, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Jalna district.  UNICEF helps link migrants and excluded communities to livelihood and social protection schemes to bring stability to the lives of their children.

UNICEF’s efforts in the area of policy, programming and planning focus on tribals, adolescents and girls, and children in urban communities.

UNICEF’s Initiatives include

Child Development and Nutrition

  • ISSNIP  and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) restructuring is currently being implemented in 20 high-burden districts of the state, along with concurrent planning for statewide scale-up.
  • Two research studies related to ICDS, in particular the growth monitoring and promotion component of the ICDS programme, along with the assessment of foods and feeding practices of young ICDS participants using the ProPAN methodology, are currently being implemented in selected rural, tribal and urban areas of the state. The results will lead to the development of strategies to strengthen the ICDS programme and for prevent child undernutrition from an early age.
  • A community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) pilot programme is underway in Nandurbar district to assess the feasibility, efficacy and effectiveness of treating children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) using community-based care and special foods.
  • The UNICEF-supported “State Nutrition Mission” has set up a tool to track the progress on nutrition of vulnerable children and areas in 12 districts, with plans for a statewide scale-up.
  • Maharashtra is the first state to bundle a bi-annual deworming and vitamin A supplementation programme, offering both treatments together to all eligible children across the state.

Reproductive, Child Health and HIV

  • Lead partner in Call to Action  mission to intensify Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) programme in 166 blocks and two Municipal Corporations in 19 districts. Provided technical support for gap analysis of RMNCH+A services and influenced PIP  of National Health Mission 2014-15 to address the gaps.
  • Provided technical support and advocacy for reducing neonatal mortality in the state and for intensification of RI, including cold chain and effective vaccine management assessment.
  • Supported the government in training of Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) and SNs  on skilled birth attendance and medical officers in providing emergency obstetric care.
  • UNICEF is providing technical support to MSACS for effective implementation of Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission and Paediatric AIDS care services.
  • Pioneered the innovation of linkages between Anti-Retroviral Treatment centres across the state to the Paediatric Centre of Excellence, Sion Hospital through telemedicine, to improve quality of care of children living with HIV.

Child Protection

  • UNICEF has piloted a collaborative community mobilization model towards creating a protective environment for children in the cotton-growing districts of Yavatmal and Jalna. With the district administration and Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD), vulnerable families are linked to social protection to prevent unsafe migration, child labour and early marriages of girls.
  • UNICEF is currently developing a model for safe communities for children in urban areas, as a coordinated effort between Bhopal, Mumbai and the Child Protection (CP) section in Delhi.
  • UNICEF has supported the DWCD for Strengthening the State Task Force on Anti Human Trafficking and signing an MoU with the State of West Bengal on Standard Operating Procedures for Rescue, Rehabilitation, Repatriation and Integration (RRRI) of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Support to the DWCD for strengthening Integrated Child Protection Systems (ICPS) and CP systems through capacity development, development of protocols and the formulation of the State Child Policy.
  • UNICEF’s CP and Communications Sections are developing an adolescent life skills and empowerment module for children affected by HIV and an assessment of bottlenecks in access to services for children affected by HIV.


  • Supporting improvement in delivery and quality of education through evidence-based planning and advocacy with the state government, based on findings from key studies in education planned for 2014-15: 1. Sitan  of Secondary Education,  2. Status of Education in Tribal Areas,  3. Study on Teacher Service Conditions & Regulatory Mechanisms.
  • Supporting delivery of quality education through innovations in KGBVs of one district for scale-up to all KGBVs and upper primary schools in Maharashtra.
  • Strengthening sub-district education structures for school improvement and RTE compliance in one district for scale-up in the state.
  • Support state to develop a vision document and action plan for school improvement to address concerns of quality and equity.
  • Support in drafting state Early Childhood Education and Care (ECCE) Policy, Curriculum, and Training Manuals and state strategy for quality improvement in delivery of Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Anganwadi Centres (AWCs).
  • Meena Raju Manches have been formed in 24,775 upper primary schools. They have been credited with enrolling hundreds of girls, of whom 747 drop-outs were from Scheduled Tribes.

Water Sanitation and Hygiene

  • Support to state Water Sanitation and Supply Department for implementation of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan with a focus on 22 high-burden districts in the areas of developing protocols/guidelines, IPC  to create demand for toilets and institutional and system strengthening, Quality Assurance on technology, M&E  and Knowledge Management.
  • Support to GSDA  on water safety and security planning and implementation of Ground Water Management and Regulation Act and Rules 2009.
  • Supporting the health department to develop benchmark and protocol for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in health facilities under C2A .
  • WASH in School intervention with a focus on handwashing before Mid-day Mea and operation and maintenance of boys’ and girls’ toilets.
  • Prepared an Advocacy and Communication package on adolescent hygiene with a focus on positioning a convergent platform for Menstrual Hygiene Management.

Policy, Planning and Evaluation

  • Support to YASHADA and departments of Planning and Women and Child Development in setting up a State Resource Centre for Adolescence and Gender and a convergent roadmap for Adolescent programming.
  • Design and roll-out of a communication strategy for child-friendly Panchayats, and child-sensitive convergent participatory planning and robust monitoring for improved governance in partnership with Department of Rural Development.
  • Addressing gender and adolescent rights through the Deepshikha life skills education programme in schools and community.
  • Technical support to the department of Planning and Human Development Commissionerate in setting up District Planning and Monitoring units (DPMUs) in 22 districts and for developing an evaluation framework for the State.
  • Support to Department of Tribal Development/Development Cell (Governor’s Office) in building evidence-based programming under Tribal Sub Plan.

Advocacy and Communication

  • Support to Doordarshan and other state broadcasters for the Adolescent Girls initiative.
  • Partnered with media schools to incorporate a child rights module in the course curriculum.
  • Organized a state-level short film competition to drive the child rights agenda further.
  • Created platforms for adolescent girls by setting up media clubs.
  • Rolled out a communication strategy with the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society.

Communication for Development

  • Strengthening the IEC  health bureau with a communication cell.
  • Conducting an exploratory study with Xavier’s Institute of Communication to understand the health-seeking behaviour of tribals and non-tribals.
  • Supporting innovative communication approaches like Meena Radio in partnership with Maharashtra Prathamik Shiksha Pratishthan and Maharashtra State Council for Educational Research and Training.
  • Developing RMNCH+A communication strategy.
  • Developing a communication module for working with positive adolescents.
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