In Kenya, COVID-19 has had a negative impact on child protection and participation in governance. New strategies must be used to provide children with a voice and child governance back on the decision making table.
Problems and Purpose
Even before COVID-19, child abuse in Kenya was on the rise and the fight to get the conversation rolling and to get concrete governance decisions made to enhance child safeguarding has been difficult. Now with COVID-19, many child protection services have been put on hold. Due to shifting focus away from routine programs and towards COVID-19, families have been left vulnerable with children bearing the brunt. Parents are unable to provide children with proper nutrition, safety, healthcare or education. Currently, cases of child abuse are on the rise – especially in Mombasa – with teenage pregnancies being witnessed and sexual abuse of both boys and girls. School closures have contributed to many children staying at home unattended. Standard Media: Onyango, P. ( 2020, May), Children on the streets and child-headed households are a great concern. Children can no longer be placed in children homes and alternative measures are required to get them off the streets and receive help. Solidarity: Redazione, (November, 2017)
A generalized fear of contracting COVID-19 has hindered child participation through the normal channels of participation, and accountability for the use of resources set aside for children is lacking.
In Mombasa, Kenya, organizations have decided to work together to address various children’s issues in the advent of COVID-19. The Mombasa County Child Rights Network (MCCRN) is composed of organizations working for and with children. As a network they focus on child protection as a major governance issue in the advent of COVID-19, and are enabling children to participate, speak out, and create messages on COVID-19 to the world.
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Participant Recruitment and Selection
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Methods and Tools Used
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What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
As a network, MCCRN has come up with strategies to engage children and youth in conversations to air their views and feelings, and to raise their voices on how COVID-19 has affected them. They have held Zoom meetings with youth and live sessions with children elected officials and leaders of community and national organizations on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), the national broadcaster. Children expressed themselves stating their fears and anxieties during this pandemic. MCCRN have also led sensitization and advocacy campaigns via radio and social media, as well as through weekly online meetings with stakeholders and partners in the children’s sector.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
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Analysis and Lessons Learned
Today the social fabric of our society has changed. New social norms are emerging as parents are now working from home and home schooling their children. New trends are emerging related to the internet’s increasingly influential role, as parents and school-aged children are unable to play with their friends or going out in public.
In some communities in Mombasa, it is estimated that over 80% of children live in poverty, many of whom cannot access internet or mobile phones and are further disadvantaged in this time. The Government is prioritizing stopping the spread of COVID-19, and child participation is not given much emphasis in this process. This is challenging for community developers and child protection professionals, who work to ensure the voice of the child is heard, upheld as a governance issue, and given a place at the discussion and decision-making table.
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