Civil Society Organizations in Malawi joined hands and supported the launch and dissemination of Child Deprivation and Poverty Study that was held at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe on November 29 2017.
The launch drew together different Civil Society Organisations who were taken through the recent report on Child Poverty and Deprivation in East and Southern Africa in which Malawi falls along. The report sought to provide insight into the extent of child poverty and multiple deprivation in selected countries in East and Southern Africa Region. The report further sought to investigate the drivers of child poverty as well as the challenges and opportunities for child sensitive social protection.
According to Programme Officer for Africa Platform for Social Protection Helen Mudora, the report which focuses on Child Deprivation and Vulnerability in ten African Countries would help Government and Civil Society Organisations to advocate for Child Sensitive Social Protection.
“The report does two things, one to show Governments where we are with Child Poverty, the Governments from ten countries, even from Civil Society Organisations can see the picture that is created in every country. The other aspect is for Civil Society Organisations to use the report to demand for Child Sensitive Social Protection to ask our Governments to go beyond just the cash transfer and also strengthen service provision. We need quality education, we need quality health services, we need water, children no need to be going 30 minutes to look for water because that affects their quality of education and other things”, explained Mudora.
She further said that the report would empower CSOs to advocate for education and health services depending on the worse indicators in their countries. As for Malawi, Nutrition came out very strong as the worse indicator in the areas of school feeding, feeding practices for children and also exclusive breast feeding.
“Even though we do social protection work we should be able to develop messages and share with our mothers in the village, at home so that they have good feeding practices for our children”, she explained.
Mudora therefore called upon CSOs to work jointly as well as coming up with common messages that support the child wellbeing. In addition, she urged CSOs to demand Child Sensitive Social Protection Programmes from Governments.
Welcoming this development, representative from Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare who was also the Guest of Honour Mr. Mccallum Sibande highlighted that the launch would help Government to make informed decisions and provision of services for the children of Malawi.
“The Child Deprivation report that we launch today is a key instrument for the 10 African Countries in East and Southern Africa. The report is useful in promoting social protection programmes that address the needs of children including; Education, Health, Nutrition, Water and Sanitation and protection from violence, among others. The report clearly shows that for Social Protection to be effective, there is need to enhance service delivery. The tool that can be used by Government, Development Partners, and Civil Society Organisations in forming as well as designing key programmes for main streaming child sensitivity in existing programmes in advocacy”, said Sibanda.
In support of the launch, Save the Children representative Stanley Phiri said that Social Protection is a key investment in the children of Malawi and in the Children of East and Southern Africa. According to Phiri, Social Protection is fundamental in eliminating barriers to learning, in tackling inequalities that impede the progress of boys and girls that traps them in the cycle of poverty.
“As we address the twin challenges of both child poverty and multiple deprivation, both intertwined and inextricably linked, we are here because we believe in our collective efforts as CSOs and National Platforms to advance a new lexicon on Social protection. We envisage a social protection narrative that is child sensitive and that reaches the most marginalized and deprived children in Malawi and in the East and Southern Africa region”, explained Phiri.
“I cannot see a better more effective way to achieve and advocate Child sensitive Social Protection than this united front of CSOs collectively holding Governments to account for child sensitive social protection and putting in place targets that will be monitored and evaluated as a measure of our efforts to completely eradicate child poverty”, Phiri further explained.
Stanley Phiri also said that as Save the Children is a child focused organisation, the launch of the report would make them work more efficiently and effectively for children’s rights. He therefore assured CSOs and all stakeholders involved that the National Social Protection Networks had already convened then at the launch to form a common approach in demanding Child-Sensitive Social Protection and through that united front the CSOs would build a collective civil society to demand a justice based approach to social protection.
Reacting to the report that was presented, Chairperson for the Malawi Platform for Social Protection who is also the Country Director for the Malawi Older Persons Organisations Andrew Kavala said that his platform would develop a work plan on how to take the report on board and bring all the policy makers involved in Social Protection Programmes.
““As we are in the process of localizing 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and also the Agenda 2063 by the African Union, both instruments address how vulnerability is affecting people of different age groups, so here we are with evidence to support our advocacy for child sensitive, for child friendly social protection programmes. So, this report is very good, it has come at the right time. As CSOs will take advantage of the report to ensure we begin to engage Policy Makers for various policy dialogue on how best we can begin looking at the issue of children from a life cycle approach”, explained Kavala.
Spicing the launch, Students from Mkwichi Secondary school graced the function where they articulated some of the challenges which children face at school as well as from their homes. According to the 2016 UNICEF Malawi Child poverty report, 63 percent of children in the country are denied basic needs such as Health, Nutrition, Education, Water and Sanitation. The report further articulates that other children are abused, exposed to harmful cultural practices, engaged in child labour, trafficking, getting married before the age of 18, and living in streets.