Sharlini Rodrigo, Zoe Pellatt

Child Protection System

You have recently been recruited by the government to join their inter-agency working group tasked with helping them design an effective child protection intervention for this emergency situation.

1- Priority Programming and Intervention-
There is a need to respond to the immediate needs of vulnerable children which have been identified below. Due to the nature of the situation it is paramount that the various stakeholders build sustainable social and legal frameworks to protect all children and do not erode after the crisis. Bottom up approaches desirable as they significant and valuable information and tools that reside within the community to be voiced and developed. During emergencies there is an opportunity to strengthen linkages between communities and formal systems which is essential for medium to long term programmes. Communities can offer information, ownership, legitimacy and genuine child participation.
Priority programming will consider the following:

· Abuse and exploitation
· Psychosocial support
· Children without family care

2- Monitoring and evaluation for the emergency phase, by ensuring that the community-based mechanisms are taken into account for the best interest of children.

It is essential to build on pre existing priorities and programmes. It is also vital to understand and research the previous as well as current situation. This will allow programmes to accurately reflect the specific context and numerous unique factors. By involving other stakeholders it allows scope for adequate monitoring and evaluation that can be addressed and followed up when external stakeholders begin to leave and reside their power and responsibilities with local and internal institutions.

Identified pre-existing protection concerns
Sexual exploitation and trafficking of children have been taking place in the effected communities but no real mechanism is currently in place to prevent or respond to this problem.
There is a need to therefore liaise with government and local organizations to; 1. Understand why there is not such mechanism in place 2. To coordinate an effective and collaborated response to promote sustainability.

Emergency related concerns

15000 children between the ages 7-20 have lost one or both parents in the aftermath.
Children have been taken out of the immediate area where the emergency has taken place.

Priority Programming and intervention must address the following issues;
1) Prevention of sexual exploitation and trafficking of children:
· Registering the inhabitants of each emergency shelter
· Identifying separated and unaccompanied children
· Temporarily housing with adequate protection- adequate lighting, privacy cubicles when getting changed, 24 security and monitoring (without being invasive)

2) Preventing sexual exploitation within the community
· Form different food and supply distribution stations in each compound; for women and children and another one for men and older boys
· Limiting access to the sleeping quarters where mothers with small children, young girls, unaccompanied and separated children are housed.
· Easing the over-crowded conditions of the affected population by segregating the living quarters -Men and older boys , Mothers and small children, Young girls, Unaccompanied children to be segregated into boys and girls sleeping quarters. Family quarters for families that are not headed by females or children.

· Making sure women and children are housed in safer places such as existing buildings by ;
- Building temporary shelters such as tents to house men and older boys
- Keeping women , young girls and children in existing shelters such as school buildings, religious compounds
- Build make shift toilets and places for washing and assigning them separately for men and women
- Provide adequate lighting for all sleeping areas as much as possible.
- Provide mobile lighting equipment such as flashlights

3) Monitoring and reporting of children being trafficked outside of the community
· Advising the assessment teams to ascertain significant research conducted by existing community based organizations, civil societies and/or children’s organizations that were operating prior to the disaster.
· Build capacity into the community based organizations that existed prior to the emergency, by including child pretention concern into their regular functions.
· Promote and enhance women and children’s participation in these mechanisms

4) Creating Child friendly spaces (at a safe distance from the crowded temporary accommodation).
· Choose either pre-existing or undisturbed, community centres such as clinics, children’s play grounds or a public playground (cricket ground) to set up child-friendly spaces.
· Begin a makeshift school for children by bringing in pre-schoolers, primary school children, middle school children and older children at separate times for a few hours of “school.” This is in an effort to ‘normalise’ their routines and reduce shock and psychosocial related issues.
· Recruit the available school teachers from the emergency affected community to conduct “classes”
· Use this setting to distribute appropriate nutrition supplements for the children such as milk, biscuits and/or meals depending on the time of day.
· Conduct free medical clinics in the same place for women and children by using the area health and nutrition centres and its personnel.

5. Use the emergency situation to build a child protection system to the community with a view that these systems would be adopted and endorsed nationally.

· Whatever programs that would be started should not focus on categories of children such as children who were separated, children who are unaccompanied, children who were orphaned and children who were trafficked. Instead the programs should serve all children without any prejudice. This would minimize stigmatization of children. Although offer extra voluntary services for those require it.
· These programs should be community owned and community based to ensure that even after the emergency response phase is over, the programs will continue.
· As much as possible actors such as the education sector, health sector and the government sector should involved from the planning stage itself. This will make room for the business community as well as the private sector actors such as NGOs, societies, faith based organizations can work within this framework, rather than working separately.
· Child participation needs to be encouraged- community endorsement would increase child participation.