Lobbies root for children issues as Day of African Child marked

Rev Father Joseph Mutie (c), address press during Inter-religious council of Kenya and the launch Kenyan advocacy on child and forced marriage guideline. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

A group of six child-focused non-governmental organisations have challenged the national and county governments to address issues affecting children.

They said in previous years, children have raised several issues requiring government attention. ‘‘It is important that children get feedback on how the issues they have raised, are being addressed by both national and county governments,’’ said Child Fund country director Alice Anukur.

Ms Anukur read a statement on behalf of the six  organisations during a joint press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The others were Plan International Kenya, Save the Children Kenya, SOS Children’s Villages Kenya, Terre des Hommes International Federation and World Vision Kenya under Joining Forces For All children (JFA).

The calls come ahead of celebration of the Day of the African Child today under the theme; The Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment.”

Anukur added: ‘‘Engagement with children, consulting with them, listening to them and providing feedback to them is one of the focus areas for the Joining Forces For All children in Kenya as we advance the progressive realisation of the rights of children.

’’International Day of the African Child

She said in all communities where they work with in Kenya, one of their priorities is meaningful and effective engagement with children in matters that affect them.  ‘‘We are concerned that children do not access budget information that they can easily read and understand,” she said. 

They said children have the right to access government information. The alliance said the same can be contextualised from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, General Comment no. 19(2016) on public budgeting for realisation of children’s rights, national laws such as the Public Finance Management Act, among others guiding principles from the Treasury. 

‘‘These guidelines will provide further guidance to Ministries, Departments and Agencies on how to allocate adequate resources for implementation of child rights programmes and child protection services,’’ she said.

The alliance said after Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u has delivered this year’s Budget Statement, he should ensure children access and understand government budget information.

They also propose implementation of the recommendations of the Africa Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC).

The organisations also want gaps in the budget estimates addressed and tackling emerging issues such as online commercial sexual exploitation and abuse.

‘‘And that State Department for Basic Education should disseminate such budget information to all children through schools so that they can understand what is in the Budget for them,’’ said Anukur.

The alliance challenged Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), especially those promoting rights of children, to prioritise dissemination of government budget documents to children including sensitising them on their rights and implementation. 

The alliance however, acknowledged investments being made by the national and county governments on programmes and projects that contribute to progressive realisation of rights of all children. 

They said at the national level in the draft fourth Medium Term Plan of Vision 2023 for the period 2023 – 2027, there is some evidence that wellbeing of children in Kenya has improved.

They also called for implementation of the Children Act, 2022.