Safeguarding children in Nigeria
Nigeria has a population of 178,517,000. Of that number, 87,992,000 are children under the age of 18. Many of them are vulnerable to a number of child rights violations, such as violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Coalitions of civil society and government organisations, called Child Protection Networks (CPNs), respond to child rights violations and advocate for the implementation of the country’s Child Rights Act. Since they work with extremely vulnerable children, CPNs and the organisations that refer cases to them need to ensure they have a robust child safeguarding policy in place and not cause further harm. Furthermore, CPN members need to understand the case management cycle, so they can adequately respond to children who have been victims of child protection violations.
To help build the capacity of the CPNs and their partner organisations, UNICEF asked Keeping Children Safe to deliver four regional workshops, produce case management training manuals, train trainers in delivering case management workshops, and facilitate real-time strategic planning workshops with senior government officials in four regions of Nigeria.
The child safeguarding workshops equipped participants with the skills needed to draft their own child safeguarding policy. They included representatives from CPNs, the Ministry of Women-Affairs and Social Development, the National Agency for Trafficking in Persons, the National Police Force and the Ministry of Justice, including Family Courts. The case management workshops covered modules on assessments, case management processes, guiding principles of case management and skills required for case management. The real-time strategic planning workshops with senior government officials were delivered in four regions of Nigeria to (1) build a common picture of where they are right now, (2) explore and agree on where they must be in the future if they are to be more effective and efficient in protecting Nigeria’s children and (3) make commitments to each other on what they need to do differently, individually and collectively, to get there.
The 16-month project achieved the following:
- A Common Framework for Child Safeguarding. Child Protection Networks and their partners have a common framework for child safeguarding and an improved knowledge and understanding of the importance of child safeguarding. including the use of a child safeguarding policy.
- Child Safeguarding Policies Were Put in Place. Eighteen organisations developed child safeguarding policies, including the Ministry of Women-Affairs and Social Development; 12 CPNs; three non-governmental organisations; and the Nigeria Prison Service in Gombe.
- Every Participating CPN Has a Master Trainer in Case Management. They are able to be resource per sons within their states and support case management at state and Local Government Area levels.
- The MWASD in Edo and Plateau States Developed and Approved Their Own Child Safeguarding Policies. The ministry also require all orphanages and care homes to sign up to the Ministry’s safeguarding policy in order to legally operate in the state.
- The Inspector General of Police Has Approved a Nationwide Child Safeguarding Policy for the Nigeria Police Force. The child safeguarding measures introduced include: provision of shelters for child victims while they are being rehabilitated or while investigation is ongoing; the provision of desk office outside police stations to boost confidence of victims to report cases, provide confidentiality, as well as remove fear from those who are afraid of the police; and further training and retraining of personnel.
- Senior Government Officials Developed Action Plans to Improve Collaboration on Child Protection Concerns. According to a participant, ‘The workshop has given participants a new lease on life on how to go about the protection of children rights; it has elevated the spirit of collaboration and co-operation amongst the agencies.’
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