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Child Protection Inter-Sector Coordination in Practice

Explore how child protection actors are coordinating with other sectors to enhance child protection outcomes in practice.

By mid-2020, COVID-19 had forced school closures in more than 190 countries worldwide. A 2020 report from Global Partnerships for Education reported over 770 million children in the majority world were left without access to any form of schooling.

School closure:

  • Has had adverse effects on the development and protection of children who have lost access not only to education services, but also to peer support and other school-based services (e.g., school feeding programs, health or social service referral programs, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, etc.).
  • Is linked to increased risk of social isolation, stigmatization, psychological distress, as well as an increased vulnerability to negligence, abuse and exploitation.

As a result of the economical impact of COVID-19, children may also encounter additional obstacles that prevent them from returning to the classroom once schools reopen, as shown in previous infectious disease outbreaks, which are likely to disproportionately affect girls and children with disabilities.

Read on to see how two NGOs — a local NGO (BIFERD) working in Northern Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, and an NGO working in Ethiopia — have responded:

BIFERD – Northern Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

The Context: As a result of COVID-19 public measures, schools were closed. COVID-19 has compounded ongoing issues in the DRC. In March 2020, the country was still dealing with new cases of Ebola. In April and May, there was a proliferation of armed conflict and, consequently, the displacement of civilians in several areas of North Kivu.
The Impact: The impacts of the public health crises, paired with the ongoing conflict, have had serious impacts on household poverty levels, further contributing to negative impacts on the protection and education of children.
The Response: BIFERD had an existing “child-friendly school” approach in conflict zones of the DRC to promote positive discipline, reduce risks in school environments, and establish codes of good conduct in schools to support the protection of children and facilitate increased school attendance.
They adapted this approach to the COVID-19 context and:
  • Advocated with the education cluster to raise the challenges faced by children and their families.
  • Followed up on individual referred cases of child abuse at the community level.
  • Implemented awareness-raising activities with parents to create mechanisms for supervising children’s education at home, including reading notebooks with their children, offering help with homework, reviewing lessons, etc.

An NGO in Ethiopia adaptations to working across sectors to support child protection outcomes in COVID-19:

In parts of Ethiopia, regular attendance or/and access to child-friendly spaces was already a daily challenge for many refugee children. This was exacerbated by school closures and suspension of other childcare activities due to COVID-19. In response, child protection partners worked across sectors to:
  • Support children by distributing toys and play materials at home and providing interventions to support homemade toys using local materials.
  • Develop and circulate child-friendly MHPSS messages across sectors to protection and non-protection actors.
  • Disseminate key messages at camp food distribution points during food distributions and mainstream them in child protection, MHPSS, GBV and nutrition community outreach.
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Protecting Children during Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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