Every year, during the day of the African child, children often raise issues affecting them with an expectation that they would get timely feedback from duty bearers. However, seldom do we have children being provided with feedback on the actions taken to address their issues. As part of the activities to commemorate this year’s day of the African Child, and in view of the fact that many children in Kenya have been confronted with numerous effects of drought while others continue to be victims of various forms of violence, World Vision Kenya convened a round table for stakeholders to explore on what can be done towards improving the wellbeing of children.
The round table brought together representatives from the National Drought Management Authority, National Gender and Equality Commission, Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, Government’s Department of Children Services, Health, Basic Education and child protection actors from Civil Society Organizations. The objective of the round table was to discuss the effects of drought on children and various
forms of violence against children in Kenya with a view of generating recommendations that would inform decision making by Government, the Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders.
Summary of the Discussions
On the effects of drought on Children, whose discussions were guided by a presentation from the National Drought Management Authority, the following were noted.
There is a contingency plan in each of the counties, funding for the response is therefore based on the provision in the said plans.
A number of children have been reached through provision of water to their families and schools, provision of meal in schools, supplementary feeding programme for malnourished children, vaccination against opportunistic diseases and social safety-net to families with higher levels of vulnerability, provide largely through cash transfer or food distribution.
Targeting beneficiary for the safety-net programme takes place continuously and this helps to ensure that all households that require help are reached through these interventions
Scarcity of water, food Insecurity and malnutrition were identified as the most critical issues that needed to be addressed.
Resources based violence is partly contributed to by the effects of drought, and most of the times children are victims of such kind of violence that take various forms.
Whereas early warning systems exists, the awareness levels of communities on the purpose and functionality of such systems seems to be low in various parts of the country.
Despite the existence of many Child focused Civil Society Organizations in Kenya, very few are engaging effectively with government authorities in ensuring quality response to the effects of drought on children in Kenya.
On Violence against Children in Kenya, discussions were guided by key highlights
from the Government’s Department of Children Services, Health and Basic
Education; the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the National
Gender and Equality Commission.
The following key issues were noted.
There is good legal and policy framework in Kenya that provides for mechanisms for the prevention of various forms of violence against children in Kenya; what seem to be a challenge is enforcement.
Harmful cultural practices, citizens’ attitudes and weak household economic status continue to contribute to vulnerabilities that expose children to different forms of violence such as Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriage, Child Prostitution, and Child Labour among others. These forms of violence are a contributor to children dropping out of school.
Child pregnancy is evident across many communities and there are cases of mortality being reported associated with female persons below the age of 18 years.
Some schools and households still subject children corporal punishment despite its ban.
Whereas violence continue to be reported at different levels in the country, there is inconsistency of data on prevalence of different forms of violence across different communities and counties in Kenya. The government has however rolled out the Child Protection Information Management Systems as one of the ways of addressing the challenges associated with child protection related data.
There are on-going efforts by various government institutions in collaboration with other stakeholders towards ensuring that community members are at the core of preventing and reporting any form of violence against children either at home, schools and community
There are emerging concerns on the violation of children rights during the elections campaign period with cases of children being “used” to advance political agenda that they may not be well informed about.
Proposed Action points for consideration
By the end of the round table, the following key action points were proposed for consideration;
1. Child protection indicators to be included in all emergency response related assessments.
2. Convene a multisectoral forum bringing together agencies that have been directly involved in the drought emergency response and those that have been advancing the protection of children in Kenya, with the purpose of reflecting further on the effects of drought on children, resources utilized in the response, the number of children reached and exploring any new strategies/innovations that would add value to the response.
3. Conduct awareness sessions among other government departments and stakeholders on the functionality of the Child Protection Information Management System in order to
ensure that decisions made by other state departments/institutions are informed by the data generated from such as system.
4. Review the Implementation of the Government’s National Plan for Action for Children in Kenya and generate recommendations to inform the roll out of the Sustainable Development Goals, finalization of the 3rd Medium Term Plan and the development of the County Integrated Development Plans.
5. Guided by the provision of Article 53 of the constitution, develop a Child Friendly Budget Guide and Tools; and immediately conduct an Analysis of the Government Budget for the FY 2017/2018 with a view to establish the financial investments for the advancement of specific rights of the child.
6. Develop and disseminate the general elections public advisory on Child Protection; specific to the period before, during and after elections.
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