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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Call to adopt social security measures to protect children in the constitution
    Justice for Children Trust
    July 05, 2010

    Last week we discussed the importance of ensuring that children enjoy the right to food security and the obligations that duty bearers have in order for children to realize this right. This week we will explore the obligation of the state to provide social security measures that result in children, especially children living in difficult circumstances, enjoying all the other rights that contribute to their life, survival and development. This will be done by analyzing the provisions National Action Plan for orphans and vulnerable children (NAP for OVC) in Zimbabwe.

    The NAP for OVC was formulated in 2003 by the government to improve the lives of all orphaned and vulnerable children. The overall goal of the programme was to make sure that children surviving under difficult circumstances would access basic services that would bring them at par with any other advantaged child. The initiative was a direct response to the HIV and AIDS scourge that has resulted in more and more children being orphaned. Article 20 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 25 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child provide for the state's duty to provide special care and protection of children who have no families or are surviving outside the family unit. The same international and regional legal frameworks place the burden of putting in place administrative measures that will ensure the implementation of the rights provided therein, on the state. The NAP for OVC was developed nearly a decade ago to fulfill the obligations but how much has been done towards the implementation of its provisions?

    The main goal of the programme is supposed to be realized through coordination of partners working together to improve the lives of children in Zimbabwe. If fully implemented, constant monitoring and progress checks could provide the necessary advice and recommendations needed to improve children's lives. NAP for OVC also promotes the input of children in the implementation of the programme, which if promoted in good faith, could improve the delivery on planned objectives. The programmme is also supposed to promote birth registration by engaging in national surveys with government and organizations that work with children and communities. The intended results are to make the birth registration process easier, to encourage parents to register new born babies as early as possible and to facilitate the acquisition of birth certificates by holding campaigns in schools, clinics and hospitals. If this objective is to be fully implemented, then a considerable reduction in cases of unregistered births would be realized.

    The other set objectives of the NAP for OVC programme are to improve children's access to education (which includes education on nutrition, health and hygiene) food, health services, water and sanitation and to promote family life as one way of protecting children from abuse and vulnerability. The wholehearted implementation of such noble plans will no doubt improve children's lives. Children require such special care and attention in order to achieve their own objectives as human beings. What is required is to upgrade the action plan to the next level: implementation and monitoring- bearing in mind that the plan is not binding on duty bearers at all. The provisions should thus be part of the Bill of Rights in the new constitution because that is the only way of ensuring accountability where violations occur.

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