Why investment in child protection is important

Author: Moses Otai

ChildFund Uganda in partnership with Africhild Center on August 16 launched the findings of the national budget analysis on Child Protection for the last five years. The undertaking was aimed at providing budget allocation trends from 2017/2018 to 2020/2021.

It was also to establish funding gaps for child protection endeavors vis-a-vis the government’s commitment as provided in key national and international frameworks which the government has ratified and domesticated. 

According to the analysis, child protection is well articulated in the national policy and planning frameworks and receives allocations from the government of Uganda resource envelope under the “Youth and Children Affairs sub-Programme” of the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD). However, the budget allocation and public spending on child protection for the past five financial years, analyzed indicated a threefold undesirable trait namely; low, fluctuating and decreasing allocations. 

The analysis established that the proportional allocation to child protection as a percentage of the MGLSD budget has been oscillating between 0.01percent and 0.02 percent. This funding largely goes to support salaries of the mandated officers who are also few and under-resourced.

This validates the struggles and constraints faced by key actors such as Police, Probation and Social Welfare Officers and community officers to provide timely and adequate responses to child abuse victims when called upon/cases have been presented to them.   From the responses of participants at the budget analysis launch, it was notable that there is still a wide information gap about the extent of child protection risks and their impact on children in the country. There’s also inadequate understanding of the magnitude of risks we run as a country should the protection of children not be given due attention and priority funding.  

Nonetheless, the publication and dissemination of the budget analysis is a great step in the right direction with the document now available for reference for action.

In the country’s strategies to reduce child protection risks and create a violence-free community, climate change should not be ignored. A white paper published by ChildFund Sweden in August 2022 details how climate change increases the risks of violence against children. While the paper references experience from Cambodia, India, and Ethiopia, a lot of it mirrors what’s happening in Uganda.

According to the paper, climate change catalyzes increases in droughts and water scarcity, floods, other natural disasters, and rising temperatures. These lead to migration, conflict, poverty, food insecurity, psychosocial health, and stress. They yield into incidents of violence against children such as child labour, child marriage, sexual abuse, physical abuse, gender-based violence, neglect, trafficking, and mental health issues. The paper calls for strengthening the discourse on linking climate change and environmental degradation risks and protecting children from violence.

Additionally, our budgets for child protection should also cater to emerging risks to children such as Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children (OSEAC).

ChildFund is already in the working to fight against OSEAC having started this agenda in 2019, with a shut-down online exploitation of children campaign in the Philippines. Since then, more campaigns have been done including in our neighborhood in Kenya.

As development partners, we will continue to play a supportive role in the government’s endeavors to improve the well-being of children. This will be more impactful with the government taking the mantle. Child protection is a cross-cutting issue that should be factored into other sectoral budgets because if children’s right to protection is not addressed, then every other right is at stake, including education, health, food, and other life essentials.  

Increasing funding for child protection initiatives will go a long way in creating violence-free communities and homes where children live to their fullest potential.

Mr Moses Otaiis the Country Director, ChildFund Uganda.

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