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Monitoring Government Performance and Child Wellbeing

African governments have an impressive record in their formal accession to the relevant child-focused international treaties.  But the extent of their commitment to children’s issues varies widely, and the gap between promises and reality remains wide in many countries. Why is this so?  How well are African governments doing in meeting their national and international obligations?  Which governments are doing well and which ones are not? How do countries rank in relation to each other? What is it that is right that child-friendly governments are doing, which poorly-performing countries can emulate?

In response to the above questions, ACPF produced The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2008, whose theme focuses on answering the question – How child-friendly are African governments to Children?  The report assesses the extent to which African governments meet their national and international obligations through a ground-breaking Child-friendliness Index developed by ACPF.

The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2008: how child-friendly are African Governments?

The report was a response to the growing need to Monitor and report the extent to which governments in Africa live up to their obligations to protect, respect and fulfil children’s rights and ensure their wellbeing.  Its aim is to encourage African governments to learn from each other, and to promote concerted action to capitalise on what has been achieved so far.

ACPF, in collaboration with its partners, launched this maiden report on November 20, 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya, which was the Universal Children’s day and later on December 8, 2008 at The Hague in the Netherlands. The launch events were organised together with ACPFs partners – Investing in Children and their Societies and Plan International.

Briefing meetings were also organised with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands to present the report. The report was well received and acknowledged as a Major resource document on issues related to child wellbeing in Africa.

The African Report on child wellbeing (ARCW) continues to provide extensive information on children in Africa for use by government experts and policy makers, civil society, researchers and others interested in the issue of child wellbeing in Africa.

The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2011: Budgeting for Children

Feedback from Burkina Faso

The French version of The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2011 was presented at the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 1st March 2011 in the presence of H.E. Mme Pascaline Tamini, Minister for Social Action and National Solidarity of Burkina Faso. During her speech she observed the need for African governments to be accountable for the commitments that they have made. Minister Tamini felt that this is a report that every policy maker should have on their desks and after she launched the book she requested for copies to deliver to each Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament in Burkina Faso. Minister Tamini concluded with a pledge that she would like to see Burkina Faso move to the top category of the African countries that are investing in their children.

Feedback from Senegal

The French version of The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2011 was launched officially in Dakar, Senegal, on Africa Day, May 25, 2011.  The Report was launched in the presence of H.E. Madame Ndèye Khady Diop, “State Minister, Minister of early childhood and childhood”, H.E. Mr. Kalidou Diallo, “Minister for pre-elementary, elementary and secondary education and national languages” and H.E. M. Ciré Aly Ba Chef of Cabinet for H.E. the Prime Minister.

In her official speech preceding the launching of the Report, H.E. Madame Ndèye Khady Diop recognised the efforts of the Government of Senegal in investing in its children. This is demonstrated by the creation of a Ministry for Early Childhood Development as well as its increased investment in Education. She pledged to further improve Senegal’s performance on budgetary allocations to sectors that directly impact on children and be one of the top ranking governments on the African Report on Child Wellbeing.

Feedback from Swaziland

The Swaziland Government’s low performance with regards to child rights and wellbeing was discussed at a consultative meeting in Mbabane in September 2010 where UNICEF Swaziland presented the results of The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2008 in the presence of the Prime Minister, members of the Cabinet and representatives of international agencies. The Prime Minister expressed his concern on the country’s situation and constituted a Ministerial team to address issues raised in the Report concerning Swaziland’s performance with instructions to report back to him within a period of six months. He vowed to take action to move the country off its low ranking to a better position.  Concerned about the low rating of Swaziland in the 2008 African report, UNICEF and other advocates have been doing advocacy work with relevant institutions. The advocacy efforts of partners on the ground benefited a lot from ACPF’s report and paid off. Swaziland has since made remarkable progress towards the vision of a child friendly environment. As of September 2012, the Government of Swaziland had enacted the Child Protection and Welfare Act of 2012, ratified a total of nine child related instruments, with the process for ratifying two more including the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, underway.

Feedback from Sudan

The Country Director of Plan Sudan presented the Report to the Chairperson of the National Council for Children in Sudan.  The Chairperson appreciated the findings and the conclusions in the report because she has been advocating with the Government of Sudan to increase budget allocations to sectors that directly impact on children.

Feedback from Mozambique

The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2011 was presented to the Government of Mozambique at an event that was co-hosted by ACPF, Child Fund and the Chissano Foundation. The Report was well received and it drew a wide cross section of participants ranging from government representatives, policy makers to CSOs and media representatives. From government, there was a high level or representation. The Former Minister of Foreign Affairs – Dr. Simao observed, that “no such event has ever happened before in Mozambique that drew – a former President, the seating Prime Minister, one former Prime Minister, four seating Ministers, the Vice President of the Mozambique Parliament, four former Ministers and a number of parliamentarians – this Report is going to inform and impact on the policy direction as far as children issues are concerned – it was brought all the key players on children issues in Mozambique together.” At the launch, the Prime Minister noted that Mozambique had been ranked second, which is a silver medal, but called on all stakeholders that in the next Report, Mozambique should work hard to get a gold medal.

Feedback from Algiers

At the 18th Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), held in Algiers from November 27 to December 1st, 2011, three African Governments, namely Senegal, Niger and Uganda quoted the African Report on Child Wellbeing as a reference during the presentation of their country reports to the Committee.

ACPF also continued to engage with Civil Societies and International Organisations

Geneva – March 2011

ACPF was invited to present its work on budgeting for children and share the findings of the African Report on Child wellbeing 2011 to members of the NGO Group at their General Assembly meeting held on 11 March 2011 in ACPF’s presentation included the results of the analysis on budgeting for children in Africa and the Budgetary Commitment Index which was constructed using budget expenditure data of 52 African countries. The presentation generated a lot of interest and initiated discussion on budget and related issues and its implications in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Copies of the Report were distributed to members of the NGO Group to inform their work and relay the messages of the report and share experiences.

Geneva – May 2011

On May 30, 2011 ACPF had the opportunity to brief the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on the results and messages of the research carried out and published under The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2011. During the presentation the added value of the Report was highlighted; the fact that it is an Africa to Africa comparison, it is an African and an independent voice, it subscribes to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, it is a major source of reference information and data that can be utilised to influence law and policy reform. Each member of the Committee received a copy of the Report.   Dr Agnes Aidoo, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, stated that the Committee will use this report as a reference document when reviewing country reports, not only because of the level of analysis, but also because it is an independent Report.   Professor Yanghee Lee, Chair, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child also said that the Report was of world class standard and that other regions could replicate the same methodology

New Delhi – November 2011

HAQ, an India based centre for child rights began its work developing a Child Rights Index in 2009.  The Centre issued a press note in November 2011 stating the following: “HAQ has for the first time in India come out with a holistic index ranking states according to their performance on realization of child rights.  The centre upon the methodology used by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) for its African Report on Child Wellbeing…”