The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 191 countries to address the basic needs and upholds the rights of children worldwide. Dr. Nicholas Alipui has been the UNICEF Representative to the Philippines since 2003.
Dr. Alipui oversees all operations and activities of UNICEF in the Philippines. He stated that “we conduct continuous monitoring of the poorest and most disadvantaged children and based on that I conceptualize strategies and programs to address their priority needs.” UNICEF implements direct service delivery programs on health, nutrition support, pre-school education, early childhood care to provide for the needs of these children. Dr. Alipui’s responsibilities also include advocacy work to increase the awareness of both government and the private sector about the problems facing children. Apart from this, he heads the fund raising campaign to enable UNICEF to expand program implementation in the Philippines. Funds are sourced both locally and internationally. He said, “UNICEF as you know is entirely funded by voluntary contributions. An interesting point there is that, 30 percent of our funding comes from private individuals. That is really a huge vote of confidence in the organization. It means that we are accountable to individuals who are contributing.”
For many years, the health and education programs of UNICEF have benefited 75 percent to 80 percent of children. But there has been a complete paradigm shift. Dr. Alipui explained that UNICEF strategic programming is no longer focused on the 80 percent that have been reached rather greater emphasis is now being given to the 20 percent of the poorest and most disadvantaged children who have not been given assistance. These are the children with a completely different development life such as indigenous children and children affected by armed conflict. He asserted, “We are now trying as much as possible to retain the coverage of all our programs to 80 percent but also extending government and basic social services to the 20 percent of the poorest as part of our effort to help build from the perspective of a rights-based approach to programming.” Dr. Alipui emphasized the importance of universality and said, “We are challenging ourselves to do more than just 80 percent. We now want to reach the last 20 percent with services of universality. When we talk about children’s rights, we cannot say that some children have more rights than others – every child has the same set of rights, everywhere, all the time.”
Dr. Alipui was born in Ghana and stayed faithful to his African roots by practicing medicine in Mozambique until he became a “cooperant” medical coordinator to the Joint Nutrition Support Program (JNSP) of UNICEF, WHO, and the Government of Mozambique. In 1988, he joined UNICEF as a JNSP Project Officer in Somalia. Several years after, he was assigned to Angola as Senior Program Officer. Dr. Alipui continued as Senior Program Officer at the Program Division in UNICEF New York and later on served as Chief of the Africa Section where he supervised the coordination and monitoring of the UNICEF programs of cooperation in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. In 2006, he served as Representative of UNICEF in Kenya which earned him a spot as one of UNICEF’s Heroes during the organization’s anniversary in 2006.
Dr. Alipui is on his last year as Representative of UNICEF in the Philippines and at the moment is still unsure of his next post. Although he is still undecided, he shared that he places utmost importance on being able to make a difference in any job or position he chooses. Dr. Alipui spoke very passionately of being a nurturer of the future and emphasized, “My whole perspective is to find a niche area where I can make a contribution to something that will really cater to the poorest. My lifelong concern has been to use the capacities of UNICEF to benefit children. It really depends on what the challenge is and if I can envisage and create a mental picture of what my contribution will be then that is where I will go.”