A consortium of organisations led by the Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) have joined efforts with the Government in driving sustainable change for children’s rights relating to quality education, health and social protection on the Copperbelt.
Working in partnership with Save the Children and the Sweden Sverige, Panos has yesterday in Ndola launched the Driving Sustainable Change for Children’s Rights (DSCCR) project which Panos is implementing in Ndola, Masaiti and Lufwanyama.
The DSCCR project that will involve over 2,500 children is aimed at fostering child-led and focused accountability for improved delivery of children’s rights to quality education, health, and social protection.
The project was launched by Copperbelt Provincial Permanent Secretary Augustine Kasongo, who was represented by his deputy Daniel Kamenga, at Urban Hotel.
In his speech, Mr. Kasongo bemoaned rampant cases of children’s rights abuse on the Copperbelt.
The Copperbelt Provincial Permanent Secretary cited violence against children as a common form of abuse happening in the province.
Mr. Kasongo revealed the Government’s plan to enact the Child Code Bill in Parliament in a bid to protect children.
“Through various human rights instruments Zambia has committed to ensure those children’s rights are upheld and protected. As you are aware Zambia is signatory to many human rights instruments that affect children,” he said.
“Domestically our commitment to children’s rights are reflected and amplified in the Republican Constitution under the bill of rights and various provisions on human rights. Despite this being the case, child rights violations are still rampant in our midst in many ways through our actions and decisions on failure to act when it matters as society. Parents, leaders and guardians deprive children of the opportunity to live and enjoy their rights which all these protocols assured them,” Mr. Kasongo stated.
“When society does not provide that school space to a child his or her right is violated. When the health services are lacking and a child dies of preventable diseases his or her rights are denied. And when society leaves a child safeguarding to chance his or her rights are at stake from potential abusers. Let me take this opportunity to state that the province will soon launch the programme to end violence against children,” he said.
Mr. Kasongo further reminded children present at the project launch to be responsible saying human rights come with responsibilities.
Panos Institute Southern Africa Executive Director Vusumuzi Sifile said every citizen has a duty to advance sustainable change for children’s rights in education, health and social protection.
Mr. Sifile said children must hold leaders to account over their rights, especially those relating to quality education, health and social protection.
“In our approach as Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf), children feature prominently. Children need to also have platforms where they express themselves. We also implement actions that focus on stimulating actions to address problems and we do not do it as Panos, stimulate community action because we believe in citizens driving the development agenda themselves. Yes we have the duty bearers; the Government, we have cooperating partners, we have civil society but we believe that the most sustainable development is that which is driven by the communities themselves,” said Mr. Sifile.
Speaking on behalf of children, Henry Musonda, a grade 11 pupil at Northrise Combined School in Ndola, hailed the launch of the Driving Sustainable Change for Children’s (DSCCR) Project.
Musonda, who was accompanied by three other children and a teacher, spelt out children’s expectations from the project.
“As children we are thankful for this project being launched concerning the driving sustainable change for children’s rights. We believe that for sure this project will bring sustainable change for children’s rights and that it will be beneficial for us as children,” Musonda said.
“The first right I feel should be protected is the right to education because as it is said education is the key to success. Whenever a child is being educated it is important as they will contribute to the development of the country,” he said.
The Panos (DSCCR) Project seeks to foster child-led and focused social accountability for improved delivery of children’s rights to quality education, health and protection.
The main objectives of the project include facilitating effective child participation in fostering accountability in decisions and actions to advance children’s rights at district, provincial and national level, facilitating advocacy for responsive policy and legal environment for sustainable delivery for children’s rights among others.
The project will work with school based child rights clubs and various stakeholders including relevant government agencies to ensure that these objectives are achieved