Enhancing Welfare: UNICEF empowers Northeast stakeholders in effective budgeting for children, women

Participants at the workshop 

By Williams Ago, Gombe 

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recently conducted a comprehensive three-day training session for key stakeholders hailing from Adamawa, Bauchi, and Gombe States. 

The focus of the training was to enhance the efficiency of budgetary allocation and disbursement processes aimed at improving the well-being of children and women in the region.

Statistics indicate that children in these three states account for approximately 50% of the total population. Despite this significant demographic presence, the current state of their welfare remains subpar, primarily attributed to inadequate budget allocations and expenditures targeting this vulnerable demographic group.

According to Yusuf Auta, Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, "Over the years, we've discovered that spendings focusing on children and women have been very poor, and in some instances, even decreasing, not even maintaining the allocation.”

Apart from looking at issues of budgetary allocations, Auta added that the training also focuses on "the funding, the actual expenditure on those sectors that affects children's lives such as basic education, primary healthcare, social protection, child protection, women empowerment and many others.

"This capacity strengthening will enable us to highlight areas where funding is poor and we can advocate and ensure increase or improvement in such areas," he stressed.

In an effort to help these States improve on the situation, the UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, brought together some members of Civil Society Organisations (CSO's), budget officers, planning officers, statistical officers among others to strengthen their capacities to be able to project and favour issues of children and women in their annual budgets.

Our correspondent reports that UNICEF, this time around, is helping to address these challenges affecting children and women from the basics, that is, in the formulation process of government policies.

Yusuf Auta said, the training is intended to empower the stakeholders with knowledge to be able to carry out analysis, present user friendly data, visualise the data to policy makers and stakeholders so that issues of children and women can be projected, highlighted and then concrete actions can be taken to address these anomalies.

Mrs. Ruth Edward Baka, the Acting Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Gombe State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, explained the gains from the training and said their first assignment after reaching home is to make analysis of spendings on children from 2019 to date, see the percentage and other trackings.

"If it is favourable, that will be ok, but if not, we will report to the government about the need to improve on the aspect of children. We'll do the analysis, compare and see and I'm sure our governor has the interest of children who are our leaders of tomorrow," she assured.

On his part, Saleh Mohammed Adamu, expressed happiness that he gained a lot from the training in terms of budget tracking and analysis. 

The Director, MIS in the State Bureau of Statistics, Abubakar Hassan, said participants now have analytical tools to use to make data analysis in relation to budget. 

They can also use that to see and forecast budget performance such that budgets will be efficiently utilised.

The training which was held from 25th to 27th March, 2024 at Villa Grande Hotel Jos, Plateau State, saw the participants being practically drilled, using their personal computers on tools and techniques for data analysis, role of graphic design in data analysis, data driven decision making through storytelling, crafting a narrative through data, infographic design principles as well as integration and practice.
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