The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2016, Getting It Rights: Bridging the gap between policy and practice looks into governance and service delivery in Africa through a child wellbeing lens.
The report reveals that public institutions responsible for children's affairs are largely side-lined and lack the authority and resources needed to initiate and effectively implement programmes targeting them. It also notes that there is a disconnect between national, sub-national and grassroots functions in implementing child-focused programmes in a number of countries in Africa. Weak accountability systems at all levels have also further exacerbated the problem. These, the report says, affected the scope and effectiveness of programmes for children in meaningfully improving their wellbeing.
Said President Macky Sall of Senegal, "The report is telling us that weak institutional capacity, inadequacy of budget and ineffectiveness of accountability mechanisms are among the main barriers to the realisation of the rights and wellbeing of children in Africa." He added, "We should not be complacent of the achievements and progress made so far. The report is reminding us of the long way we have to go to address these challenges and ensure that children do not die of preventable causes, that they are better protected and cared for."
Although governments are making progress in improving children's access to healthcare, education and other services, millions of children still languish in poverty and remain denied of their basic needs. The report highlights that there are 34 million out-of-school children in the continent which account for more than half of the world's total and who have limited prospects for re-entering school. The highest rate of physical violence on children also takes place in Africa. The report mentions that as high as 56% of children in some resource-endowed countries do not have access to vaccines to prevent deadly childhood infections such as measles.
The report makes the case that the scale and magnitude of child deprivations in Africa are results of governments' inability to create systems that support effective implementation of policies and programmes targeting them." Mr Theophane Nikyema, Executive Director of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) says, "Government bodies responsible for children's affairs across many countries of Africa are at risk of downward spiral wherein they are given limited resources to exercise their mandate and blamed for ineffectiveness in improving the wellbeing of children." He added, "We need to break this dangerous cycle of practice."
Lack of effective accountability systems is also noted to be the other factor contributing to the problem. Existing mechanisms in place in most countries lack independence and power to impose sanctions when public institutions perform poorly. Capacity constraints and absence of operational linkages with law enforcement bodies are the other barriers that weaken accountability systems.
The report emphasises that the necessary institutional, administrative and budgetary mechanisms need to be put in place at all levels of government administration to fix the problems. "These measures need to be accompanied with commitment to elevate issues of child wellbeing high on national agenda, allocate adequate resources to materialise them and give authority to child-focused public agencies to enable them undertake their coordination and oversight responsibilities effectively," said Mr Mohamadou Lamine Cissé, President of the Africa-Wide Movement for Children and General Administrator of L'Observatoire International de La Democratie et de la Gestion des Crises et Conflits (OIDEC).
Fulfilling children's needs, particularly that of the most vulnerable groups, says President Macky Sall, "is our obligation as government to proactively take measures to overcome governance and resource challenges." He emphasised, "We should regularly examine our executive machineries and systems and incrementally strengthen our efforts to ensure that children benefit, significantly, from our socio-economic development initiatives."
The African Report on Child Wellbeing series is one of the flagship publications of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), a pan-African policy research and advocacy organisation. The report is issued biennially with themes focusing on state accountability to children. The 2016 edition, the 4th in the series, is a response to the growing gap between policy promises that African governments make and their actual implementation. It provides analyses on public institutions, budgets and operational systems with a focus on children which would serve as inputs to revise strategies and improve performance in realising the rights and wellbeing of children. It also aims to support initiatives to attain child-focused targets of the Global Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the African Union's Agenda 2063.
For more information, please visit:
- http://africanchild.report/ - For a copy of the report, The African Report on Child Wellbeing 2016: Getting It Rights: Bridging the gap between policy and practice.
- http://www.africanchildforum.org - To know more about the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
- http://www.africanchildinfo.net - The African Child Information Hub for access on more resources on children in Africa
Mr Yehualashet Mekonen
The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Mr Mohamadou Lamine Cissé
L'Observatoire International de La Democratie et de la Gestion des Crises et Conflits (OIDEC)
Source: Africa24 Media