On 17 October 2018, David Wright (Regional Director East and Southern Africa at Save the Children International) presented the following remarks to the Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action.
The region continues to pose huge challenges for those of us working in the area of Child Protection. We have over eleven million people displaced in the East Africa, most of them children. Many countries are experiencing protracted conflict and the crises in South Sudan is essentially a Child Protection crisis as over 70% of the more than six million people in need of humanitarian assistance are children. We have seen the massive droughts in the Horn of Africa over the last three years, which resulted in more people being food insecure across those countries than at any previous time in human history. These types of crises generate toxic stress in families resulting in increased rates of child abuse, neglect, trafficking and early marriage. In Ethiopia alone, we have seen almost two and a half million newly displaced people in the last year, three times the number of refugees crossing into Bangladesh from Myanmar but with only about ten percent or less of the support from the international community.
Unfortunately, the world is a busy place, and despite large-scale support during the drought in 2017, we still have underfunded crises across the region in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, and so on. With this underfunding comes a challenge for those of us who care about Child Protection as it is often not considered life-saving. While there has been an increase in the integration of child protection in other sectors, we work in a global context with large-scale food insecurity and unprecedented displacement. Essentially this means that what is considered to be ‘essential’ services of health provision, water provision, nutrition services and food continue to take precedence. Only about two percent of the funding for the drought last year went into activities directly related to Child Protection. It is our challenge, therefore, to get donors and the public to understand that not only is child protection a lifesaving sector but that protecting and saving lives go hand in hand in humanitarian response. In the recently conducted consultations on the 2nd draft of the Child Protection Minimum Standards, children’s clear message was that they would prefer if humanitarian responders made sure violence, killing and maiming did not happen to them in the first place.
As one of our contributions to meet these protection needs in the region, Save the Children is rolling out a Child Protection in Emergencies capacity building program for all actors in the region, with particular focus on national actors and national staff, and with funding from IKEA. The assessment and design has already taken place with the programme to be implemented in 2019. We look forward to working with staff from all of your organisations to ensure its success and to help meet the growing need for child protection services with increased capacity across all partners.
The extent of need for child protection in the region exemplifies the importance of all actors in this sector working well together. After ten years of existence the global Child Protection Working Group in 2015 had managed to develop a unique atmosphere of positive and generous collaboration from which the whole Child Protection sector benefitted. Everyone involved felt that the results far outweighed the contributions made in terms of time, capacity and expertise. The CPiE community had proven to be truly greater than the sum of its parts! That is why, when it was suggested to create two groups – the Alliance and the Child Protection Area of Responsibility - everyone saw the necessity of continuing to maintain this positive environment of collaboration when forming the new Ways of Working.
It’s fair to say that developing a new Child Protection entity with all that this entailed in terms of establishing the governance structure, keeping people informed, maintaining the ongoing work, establishing new coordination bodies and double hatting – while working to secure the full funding, it must be said – had its challenges. Now, looking back at these past three years it is truly amazing how much the coordinators and the rest of the secretariat, have achieved together with the Working Groups and Task Forces. This is the first time we have a global coordination group covering the whole area of Child Protection in emergencies and for all humanitarian settings, co-led by NGOs and the UN. I would like to give my thanks for a job well done to Audrey, Hani, their team and all the working groups and task forces, as well as the child protection Area of Responsibility team for working alongside and together with the Alliance!
I would also like to thank UNICEF and everyone involved in the Alliance during these past three years of co-leadership – for all your support and continuous positive collaboration! While Save the Children is handing over the baton to Plan International, we will continue to be deeply committed to the Alliance through co-leading two of the Working Groups – one on Minimum Standards and the other on Assessment, Measurement and Evidence – and, indeed, as a member of the Steering Committee.
To sum up, I want to say on behalf of Save the Children, it has really been a privilege and an honour to have co-led the Alliance these past three years as the NGO co-lead and we are proud of our contribution to this critical period and interagency effort. We are in no doubt that Plan International will take the challenge and run with it, thereby bringing the work another step forwards. The time has come to hand it over so I am handing over the floor to Jorgen Haldorsen.