The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2016 – Getting It Right: Bridging the Gap between Policy and Practice
The International Policy Conference on the African Child (IPC) provides a platform for policy dialogue on subjects affecting children in Africa. The Sixth International Policy Conference is on the theme of Social protection in Africa: Making it work for children.
Social protection is gaining recognition among African governments as an effective strategy to address deprivation and vulnerability among marginalised groups, including children. many African governments have national social protection frameworks and policies in place and have begun to create institutional arrangements that facilitate programme design and implementation. yet progress across African countries has been inconsistent, particularly since the endorsement of the Au Social Protection framework in 2009. Many questions and gaps remain with respect to — among other things — how social protection contributes to economic growth, how it can incrementally grow and become institutionalised within national processes, and how it can be sustainable, financed from domestic sources and nationally owned.
In the 6th IPC, ACPf, together with the African union (Au), governments, civil society organisations (CSos), pan-African and regional treaty bodies, academics and un agencies, aims to address some of these questions. To inform the policy dialogue, ACPf has prepared four background papers. This paper, entitled Strengthening the economic imperative of child-sensitive social protection, is one of them.
This paper aims to provide an overview of the legal and developmental rationale for CSO participation, as well describe the role that CSOs have played – and could potentially play –in Africa in formulating and implementing child-sensitive social protection programmes to improve child wellbeing. Drawing on lessons identified from existing initiatives, the paper aims to highlight the challenges that need to be addressed and the opportunities that can be built upon to secure effective CSO participation in government-led national social protection policies and programmes benefiting children across Africa. Building on progress in social protection policies and programmes across Africa, there is the need to accelerate existing efforts by overcoming a number of constraints. This includes by putting in place more sustainable fiscal arrangements; strengthening accountability of multiple sectors and stakeholders through national platforms and institutional arrangements; and scaling up social protection to include a comprehensive package that reaches all children. This need requires collaborative efforts from all stakeholders, including CSOs.
The purpose of this brief is to provide a summary of the evidence at a global level of ‘who is missing out’ on programming to achieve an AIDS-free generation, and ‘which evidence-based interventions may be implemented with partners to improve both HIV and equity outcomes’. However, this is a global snapshot, and no one specific context will match the situation presented in this brief. An equitable children and AIDS response must be based on local data and experience to determine the most appropriate interventions.
The inter-agency working paper consolidates current thinking, examples and lessons learned about child protection system strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa and suggest a way forward. The focus is on concrete actions that reflect country narratives and is followed by recommendations for continuing and sustaining the work.
There is a growing interest in applying the systems approach to strengthening child protection efforts. Guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the systems approach shifts attention to a larger systemic framework that includes legal and policy contexts, institutional capacity, community contexts, planning, budgeting and monitoring and evaluation subsystems.
This approach differs from child protection efforts that focus on single thematic issues, such as HIV/AIDS, disability, child trafficking, street children, child labour, emergencies and institutionalization. These single-issue approaches often result in a fragmented and unsustainable child protection response.
The African Report on Child Wellbeing provides an insight into the wellbeing of children in Africa and assesses the extent to which governments meet their obligations, through a ground-breaking Childfriendliness Index – developed by The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). The Government of Zimbabwe ranked 37th in the Child-friendliness Index out of the 52 African governments covered in the assessment. This was mainly for two reasons: first, as a result of the Government of Zimbabwe not putting in place appropriate legal provisions to protect children against abuse and exploitation; and secondly, because of lower commitment in allocating adequate share of the national budget to provide for the basic needs of children. However it did show some success in achieving relatively favourable wellbeing outcomes as reflected on children themselves.