Stakeholders from Government Ministries, NGOs, private sector and faith-based organizations have created a functional network on the protection and safeguarding of children within the Northwest Region. The network is christened ‘Northwest Child Protection Stakeholders Committee’ and is expected to work with a common child protection standard. It was formed during a three-day workshop organized by the Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) Programme on July 29-31, 2015 at the Baptist Center Nkwen.
The SEEPD Programme Child Protection Officer, Mrs. Yengi Josephine said the purpose of the workshop was to gain understanding on what dispositions are required to protect children. She presented some key components of a child protection policy as a way to enable participants develop their organizational policies. She stressed on the need for every organisation to have a Child Protection Focal Person who will take the lead in handling child abuse issues.
According to the SEEPD Program Manager, Awa Jacque Chirac, child protection in the previous phases of the programme was a cross-cutting issue but with the prevalence of child abuse in the region, it is now a separate component in the third phase. In this third phase, child protection is going beyond CBC with the aim to replicate similar policies at the level of partner organisations working with the SEEPD Programme.
The Director of Center for Inclusion Studies (CIS), Mr. Wango Julius, using findings from his study on child abuse in the region, drilled the participants on types and causes of child abuse. He called on the stakeholders to put in place measures and policies that will protect children.
From the legal standpoint, Barrister Nwana Lawrence noted that rights of children are backed by special laws, which everyone must respect. He cited child trafficking and sexual abuse as some of the violations punishable by the law.
At the end of workshop, participants resolved to work in synergy using the reviewed child protection standards. They also agreed that the SEEPD Programme will host the Northwest Child Protection Stakeholders Committee while the Center for Inclusion Studies will create and manage a child abuse data base for the committee.
Speaking earlier, the representative of the CBC Health Services Chief of Administration and Finance, Mr. Mbiydzenyuy Ferdinant underlined that the SEEPD Programme is doing a lot on disability in the Northwest Region and beyond. He said there are many children who have disabilities because they were not protected. Mr. Mbiydzenyuy called on the stakeholders to put hands on deck and make the society safer for children.
It should be noted that the workshop was a follow up of a first one on child protection and safeguarding for stakeholders, which took place in October 2014. Even though the SEEPD Programme is doing a lot to protect children in the region, much still needs to be done given the number of child abuse cases reported to the programme office on regular basis.