As part of its pan-African advocacy to enhance governments’ compliance with their obligations to children, ACPF issues, biennially, its flagship publication series – The African Report on Child Wellbeing. National level advocacy work is also undertaken as a follow up initiative to the report to engage governments and civil society organisations for collective action to improve performance in realizing the rights and wellbeing of children.
Bridging the gap between policy and practice pertaining to children is the theme that ACPF chose for the 2016 African Report on Child Wellbeing, the 4th in the series. In this round of advocacy the focus is on child rights implementation.
Tanzania was one of the five countries selected for the multi-country in-depth study carried out to explore child rights implementation processes and examine what was working well and what was not. The findings and recommendations from this study were the basis for the follow up initiative to promote greater commitment to child rights implementation in the country. The initiative was undertaken in collaboration with the Tanzanian Child Rights Forum (TCRF) and financial support from UNICEF-Tanzania.
A consultative forum was held on 12th July 2016 in the presence of representatives from government, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies and the civil society working on children’s issues in Tanzania. The forum had two main objectives: a) to initiate discussion among key stakeholders, both from government and non-government sectors, on implementation related issues based on the preliminary findings of the in-depth study and b) solicit input from these stakeholders on solutions to the problem to further enrich the report that would serve as an advocacy and reference material.
What transpired from the consultative forum and discussions with representatives of relevant government officials was the urgent need for capacity building of the implementing agencies in various ministries and particularly the department responsible for children’s affairs within the ministry of health, community development, gender, elderly and children. Inadequacy of budgets allocated to the implementing agencies was the other barrier to the effectiveness of national child rights implementation efforts. Consensus was also reached on the need for improving accountability at all levels of governance and strengthening the role and influence of independent mechanisms such as the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance in improving performance effectiveness and combating malfeasance.
The report – Implementing Child Rights in Tanzania: What is working well, what is not? - is a product of this initiative and an advocacy tool to promote enforcement. It aims to contribute to national efforts to improve the effectiveness of child rights implementation by identifying the systemic and structural challenges that impede the process. It will help improve main actors' understanding of the dynamics of child rights implementation in Tanzania –particularly around the institutional, planning, coordination, monitoring and accountability mechanisms involved – and therefore help stakeholders develop appropriate strategies to enhance performance and, ultimately, improve the wellbeing of all children.
As a follow up to the African Report on Child Wellbeing 2013: Towards greater accountability to Africa’s children, ACPF collaborated with Plan International Guinea Bissau Country Office, the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the Coalition of Organisations for the Defense of Children’s Right in Guinea Bissau (CODEDIC) to promote greater accountability to children in the country. This joint initiative involved preparing a country synopsis that served as an advocacy material, organising a national dialogue forum that brings all relevant stakeholders together to agree on next steps and advocacy for action based on the agreed priorities.
The overall objective of the follow up initiative in Guinea Bissau was to contribute to national efforts aimed at improving the compliance and performance of the Government in meeting its obligations to children as stipulated in the Constitution and regional and international child rights laws. It specifically aimed at: a) creating better understanding, among key stakeholders, of the existing gaps in law, policy and practice that hinder national effort to realise children’s rights; and b) promoting for allocation of adequate resources and enhancement of coordination among various stakeholders operating at national and sub-national levels.
A country synopsis that briefly highlights the state of child wellbeing, progress made over the past five or so years, persistent challenges and actions that could be taken to improve the situation of children was jointly prepared by ACPF and Plan (Guinea-Bissau). The country synopsis was mainly based on the findings of the third edition of the African Report on Child Wellbeing series - The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2013: Towards Greater Accountability to Africa’s Children and the situational assessment carried by Plan (Guinea-Bissau) in connection with the development of the its Strategic Plan. It served as a background document for the national dialogue forum intended to build consensus on the priority areas for action towards creating greater accountability to children in Guinea Bissau and used as an advocacy material in subsequent activities.
The national dialogue forum was held 26-27 February 2015 in Bissau in the presence of H.E. Mrs Bilony Nhama Nhasse, the Minister for Women, Family and Social Cohesion and representatives of more than 100 representatives from government, civil society, UN and non-government sectors. Representatives of children’s parliament, local governors, religious and traditional leaders from across the eight regions of Guinea Bissau were also involved in the national dialogue. As the representative of CODEDIC noted, “This forum is a first in Guinea Bissau. This is a crucial step to change and improve the lives of our children. We had fruitful discussions with various stakeholders and great recommendations have emerged. Now they will have to be transcribed into an action plan and we need a strong mechanism to be put in place for the next steps. All participants are keen to contribute to the process. A big thank you to Plan and ACPF for the initiative.”
The President of the children’s parliament has this to say, “This forum is quite different from those we are used to organise or to participate in. During this meeting we felt equal to adults. We had the floor many times and in light of the reactions, I think we have been listened to. This is a big step, we want concrete things now and we want to be involved in the implementation of the action points”.