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CS Bore launches operational guidelines for child protection

The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has launched the operational guidelines for child protection in emergencies that is aimed at addressing the specific needs of children during emergencies.

The Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore said that the children in Kenya constitute more than half of the population, making them the most vulnerable during emergencies if their rights are not being fully realized in such situations.

In a speech read on her behalf by Secretary Children Services Shem Nyakutu, CS Bore emphasized the importance of enacting legislation and policies that safeguard children’s rights, with reference to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Africa Charter on the Rights of the Child (ACRWC).

“This is basically to provide a framework for coordinated and effective responses to protect children’s rights and well-being,” said the CS.

“I share with you the excitement of enacting the Children Act of 2022, a milestone legislation for our children. It includes Section 12 (2) (f), which recognizes the care of children in emergencies under social security. My ministry is committed to ensuring the full implementation of the Act and providing the necessary support and guidance,” Bore emphasized.

She said that the Natural disasters, 2007 post-election violence, collapse of storey buildings, child trafficking have negatively impacted children’s mental health while insisting that they are in dire need of psycho-social support.

“As we were recovering from the pandemic, Kenya was hit by one of the worst droughts in forty years. More than 16 million children across the country are living with the dual impacts of poverty and the climate emergency, according to research conducted by Save the Children in 2022,” she said.

She further added that drought deprives children of their rights and future development, as parents engage in activities away from home in search of grazing, water, and food, the loss of livelihoods and incomes during this period lead to school dropouts, child marriages, child trafficking, and other negative effects.

Bore highlighted that the operational guidelines provide a framework for coordination at the national and county levels, collaboration with other structures, and the inclusion of children in humanitarian actions.

“They are the first domesticated reference material on child protection in emergencies, filling a crucial gap that existed before their development,” Bore remarked.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Child Protection Specialist Faith Manyala said that Kenya is increasingly experiencing protracted humanitarian crises which has been compounded by complex factors such as population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and climate change, large-scale migration, forced displacements, public health emergencies and localized conflict.

“In any humanitarian crisis, the protective environment is undermined and this puts children and women at heightened protection risks. For example, the recent devastating drought in Kenya exposed already vulnerable children to further risk of harm as the protective environment deteriorated as communities and families lost livelihoods, migrated and adopted negative coping mechanisms in order to survive,” Ms Manyala said.

She added that the most recent and available data that is the 2017-2018 budget, indicates only 0.12% of the overall annual budget of Kenya has been allocated to child protection related government agencies (Directorate of Children Services, National Council for Children Services and Child Welfare Society of Kenya) adding that advocacy at higher level for larger allocation as well as capacity building for public financial management of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection are required.

“Government has to plan better, develop, and support the social service workforce for child protection. Children’s officers under the Directorate of Children Services are limited to 950 and unevenly deployed where for instance there are only three officers in the entire Turkana County. Child Protection Volunteers who are less than 500 in number need to be institutionalized further including sustainable financing,” Manyala said.

Child protection in emergency working group representative (CPiEWG), Gabriel Wachira pledged full support in implementing the guidelines in all humanitarian efforts with the best interest of the children particularly those in emergencies.

“We are all aware that emergencies catch us unprepared and many times our responses are not that adequate, however, we are confident that this ministry will be involved in coming up with comprehensive plans and strategically position us to prepare for, respond to and facilitate recovery from any form of emergency that befall a nation more so our children,” Wachira noted.

By Ali Sheikh Mohamed and Susan Gichanja

 

 

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