Government lauded for initiating social protection programmes

Since 2009 Kenya has piloted and implemented a wide range of social protection initiatives, many of which have benefited children from the 47 counties.

During the first training for Kiambu County Area Advisory Council (CAAC) held at a Thika hotel last week, a children officer from Ministry of Labour and social protection Headquarters Mr.Jotham Kamau lauded the programmes saying they had alleviated suffering of children in society.

The public has taken full responsibility in safeguarding the rights of children as some have called officers from line departments to report on cases involving children.

Mr. Kamau enumerated the programmes as Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Cash Transfer, Elderly Persons Cash Transfer, Cash Transfer for Persons with Severe Disability which he reckoned has been appreciated by beneficiaries in provision of relief to the affected person, therefore enabling children in the household to continue with their lives undisturbed.

Other programmes were Hunger Safety Net Programme, Blanket Supplementary Feeding Scholarships and Bursaries, National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and School Feeding and Home-Grown School Feeding

According to Mr. Kamau, these initiatives have had varying levels of success and there was need to improve on targeting, participation of communities, identification of sustainable social protection programs that will involve local governments and civil society in advocacy and awareness creation.

During the 3 days training for CAAC members, they unveiled gaps in some of the programmes with Mr. Kamau impressing on them to be vigilant in their respective areas so as to strengthen them and suggest more stringent measures that could be applied to further improve on service delivery.

He noted that the legal and policy framework had gone a long way in helping to reinforce Protection structures through Article 53(1) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, The Counter Trafficking in Persons Act, 2010, The Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010 and The Guidelines for Alternative care of 2014 which has given further directions on the way children were expected to be served. According to the guidelines, the family is a nurturing and caring environment and is the most ideal place to raise a child as it helps them develop a sense of self-esteem.

Children in need for protection include those that require Parental and family care, Children under alternative care arrangements, Orphans and children those affected by HIV and AIDS, Children in areas affected by disasters, children and climate change and those Children of internally displaced families and refugees as they too need care and protection.

During the training, the team learnt that according to the National Plan of Action 2008-2012 the Constitution and specific legislation had helped strengthen the framework for child protection in several areas, including trafficking of persons, control of alcoholic drinks so that nobody was allowed to sell alcohol to people under 18 years, prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among others.

However, children continue to be vulnerable to a wide range of risks that includes abandonment, Violence, Sexual abuse, Trafficking, Sexual exploitation, Hazardous labour and harmful substances among others

Factors that necessitate child protection are high levels of poverty, Impact of HIV and AIDS, family disintegration, breakdown of community structures and moral decadence which exposed children to adult leisurely activities before they matured and were able to make the right decision concerning their lives.

According to Mr. Kamau, further efforts have been put in place in the National Plan of Action (NPA) of 2015-2022 which stakeholders are supposed to be well versed with while dealing with children issues.

During the training, members were told that in some police stations in the region, children held in custody were placed in the same cells with adults. This alone exposed the children to more criminal behavior and the council noted that it would pursue the anomaly so that they were put in a separate holding prior to being produced in court.

However, Kikuyu and Limuru police stations scored highest on this as they have rescue centres constructed separately with the facility where children and women of domestic violence were held.

A suggestion was put forth that officers be deployed to all police station with a sole responsibility of handling only issues that touched on children.

The mobile phone numbers of these officers should also be circulated and shared with the public with a view of networking and reporting on issues of children in need of care and protection.

In case the officers in question were transferred, they were to hand over to incoming officers who would also be trained on the same so that they continue addressing children issues without necessarily creating gaps that exposed them to untold suffering.

Source: Kenya News Agency