A Nigerian Non-governmental organisation is rallying around community stakeholders to fight against child abuse.
Action Health Incorporated (AHI) on Friday organised a one day workshop on child protection for the stakeholders as part of its Educating Nigerian Girls In New Enterprises (ENGINE) II programme.
Through ENGINE, the AHI sought to provide a leap of hope to girls in their teenage years who might have been disadvantaged from getting education and skills as a result of some abuse and early pregnancy.
It does this in collaboration with agencies of governments and funding from the Department for International Development (UKAID) through Mercy Corps.
The programme with stated in 2013 had been run in two phases with the first one called ENGINE I completed in 2017. The ENGINE II, which succeeded it commenced in 2017 and would elapse in 2021.
The programme manager of ENGINE II, Adeola Olusola told EduCeleb.com that the Child Protection Protocol Initiative was developed to consolidate on efforts in ENGINE I.
“In ENGINE I, we realised that there is abuse and not so much was being done about it,” she said.
“But because we have identified that, we sought to find out existing agencies both public and private, that offer protection services to people, especially girls.”
“We wanted to work hand in hand to see what are the challenges the girls were encountering to have access to such services.”
After the draft of the protocol, a mapping exercise was conducted to see to how to better address the manner of reporting possible abuses the girl child could face.
The AHI official said the outcome of the mapping exercise would give the agency ability to link more girls to where they would find solutions in the event of abuses.
In her words, “The outcome of the mapping exercise we conducted shows that there was a need to link the girls to these services.
“While the services were available, not everybody knew of the availability of these services.
“So, it is important to link them. The sole aim is to finalise a draft of the protocol we already have.”
Earlier in her address to participants, the coordinator of ENGINE II Oluyinka Onabolu identified incidents of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, violence against children as part of the challenges the initiative was looking to tackling.
The United Nations International Children Fund (UNICEF) estimates that six out of every 10 Nigerian children experience some form of violence. This, it said is deeply rooted in “social norms, including around the use of violent discipline, violence against women and community beliefs about witchcraft, all of which increase children’s vulnerability.”
Among participants were officers of the Nigeria Police Force, medical and health workers, representatives of Non-governmental organisations focused on child protection drawn from the Local Government Areas (LGAs) where the ENGINE II programme is currently operating in Lagos State.
EduCeleb.com gathered that the LGAs of Lagos covered under the ENGINE programme include Epe, Ojo, Alimosho, Koshofe, Somolu and Ikorodu. The programme is also being run in three other states in Nigeria – Kano, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory.
The event also provided an avenue for participants to also deliberate on the charters that would be displayed in communities to create more awareness about issues of child abuse.
“Every participant possibly had something new to learn through this programme,” Ms Olusola continued.
“We believe that this would improve their capacities on child protection issues and the importance of people reporting the cases and not just sweeping it under the carpet for its is a violation of the child’s human rights.”
Ogunkoya Adetutu, an official in the Lagos State Ministry of Education commended the organisers of the programme.
“This is a very laudable programme. It is no longer news that there are various forms of abuses. Anybody below the age of 18 is a child. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a society whereby children are not being taken care and are possibly subjected to abuse by different kinds of people. Children are largely vulnerable.
So, I believe the ENGINE II programme is giving children the needed lifeline, especially those that are survivors of various abuses. It is giving them hope that whatever must have happen to them, there is still hope for a better life for the future. This is also building them as campaigners against child abuse.
About the reporting protocol is very important. The organisers believe that why many incidents of child abuse go unchecked is because of underreporting of such.
Thus, it draft a reporting protocol which was ratified by participants at the event. This would make the children get the required help and care so that they can become better persons in future.
A community leader from Ijagemo Community Development Area of ALIMOSHO Local Government Area believes that the ENGINE II initiative has been a source of hope for its beneficiaries.
“Girls in our area are now busy with vocations. I very happy that it has made them useful to themselves and the community irrespective of their challenges.
“This has removed the chances of our girls engaging in social vices like prostitution to make ends meet. Among them are about twenty who had been enrolled in school to prepare for the upcoming school certificate examination.
“I would like that they continue this good work and continue to grow at helping the vulnerable.”