718,000 children to be protected from violence in the next three years
Hamburg, 20 January 2021 – Joint action for children’s rights in the Covid-19 pandemic: Joining Forces, an alliance of the six largest international NGOs working with and for children, is receiving ten million euros from the European Union to protect girls and boys in five African countries from violence during the Covid crisis.
“Children are the ones who suffer the most from the negative effects of the Covid pandemic. They are the hidden victims of this crisis,” says Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer of Plan International. “The curfew restrictions expose girls and boys to a high risk of domestic and sexual violence. With ‘Joining Forces for Africa’, we have created a powerful and results-oriented project that, with the financial support of the European Union, can improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of girls and boys.” The project “Joining Forces for Africa – Protecting children from violence during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond” (JOFA) is the first project implemented by a consortium of the Joining Forces member agencies.
The alliance includes ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS-Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation and World Vision International. Around 718,000 children are expected to benefit from the Joining Forces for Africa project over the next three years. It will be implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Senegal and Uganda. These countries have been selected because of their high risk of negative impact from the pandemic and the resulting need for child protection on the ground. The children participating in the project live in refugee camps, urban slums or border areas. “We know from our analyses on the ground that the consequences of the pandemic are dramatic for girls and boys,” says Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen.
According to that, violence against children by parents has increased, as have sexual abuse and rape of girls and the number of child pregnancies. There are reports that families do not report sexual violence against their children because they fear contracting the corona virus at police stations or health facilities. Due to the discontinuation of school meals, children and adolescents no longer have regular access to meals. There is a lack of learning materials for teaching at home. Because families have lost their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic, children are forced to work, for example in mining; they are recruited by criminal gangs and used as drug mules.
“We know that young destitute mothers in particular, abandoned their children,” Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen continued. “These are untenable conditions. Counteracting this development is the goal of the JOFA project. We will therefore strengthen the existing child protection systems in the countries and at the same time work with families, communities and institutions to raise awareness and thus the conditions to protect children.” She stresses the importance of involving those affected on the ground in shaping the project. “Children and adolescent girl and boys are the ones who best understand their problems and needs.”
Specific measures include:
- Promoting and developing child helplines to allow girls and boys to confidentially report incidents of sexual violence.
- Conducting trainings in children’s and youth clubs: girls and boys learn about their rights so that they can claim and advocate for their rights in their families and communities.
- Supporting parents to manage stress, build skills for positive parenting and support each other during difficult times
- Producing and distributing information material for families and children on child protection to raise awareness in communities.
In addition to the 718,000 children who will benefit from the JOFA project, 3,000 staff from local child protection institutions and 23,000 parents and caregivers will be involved in the implementation of the project. The project brings together the expertise of all six Joining Forces agencies, ensuring we are providing the best solutions available to these complex challenges.
About Joining Forces
Joining Forces is an alliance of the six largest international child rights organisations. Its members are: ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS-Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation and World Vision International. The alliance was founded in 2017 and currently focuses on two initiatives: promoting children’s rights and ending violence against children. It conveys these values through direct exchange with local governments. “Joining Forces for Africa” (JOFA) is the first joint project of the alliance.
Contact: Andy Hill
Joining Forces for Africa (JOFA) Project