'Kenya Children Voices Count!' - JFA-Kenya Statement on COVID-19 Response
On Monday, May 25, the Joining Forces Alliance for children in Kenya (JFA-Kenya) called for the protection of children's rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a virtual release of the statement, the coalition of six child focused NGOs (Child Fund Kenya, Plan International Kenya, Save the Children Kenya, SOS Children's Villages kenya, Terre des Hommes and World Vision Kenya), noted that it is important to continue listening to children and supporting them during the pandemic.
While their combined efforts are contributing to the reduction of impact of the coronavirus on children in Kenya, they expressed concerns that:
- There's no COVID-19 child protection standard of operation procedures to guide the provision of child protection services during the pandemic.
- There's no comprehensive report on the situation of children in Kenya since the onset of Covid-19 in Kenya.
- In various parts of the country, communities are reporting cases of violence against children, including cases of child labour, FGM, child marriage, and child commercial sex exploitation. In addition, some children are being exposed to various forms of on-line violence, such as cyber bullying and on-line sexual exploitation.
- Given that there are children engaged in learning at home using digital platforms, most children especially the most vulnerable, without access to Internet or other learning devices like radio and TVs are being 'left behind' in their education.
- Expectant mothers and children in need of immunization services are not being reached with timely health care services in many rural parts of the country.
The coalition further made the following recommendations:
- Develop child protection standards of operation procedures
- Issue a weekly report on the situation of children in Kenya
- Develop guidelines for child friendly mass testing
- Seek for views from children when exploring options for opening school
- The National Assembly to approve adequate budget before schools are reopened
- School-specific COVID-19 preventive measures to be in place before schools reopen
- Design and implement a National Psychosocial support programme for children
- Sustain the provision of quality health services
- Financial and technical assistance to the Government of Kenya
In conclusion, the six NGOs called on aid agencies and partners to provide continuous support to the GoK in putting in place mechanisms that will specifically cushion children, their parents, guardians and communities from the effects of COVID-19.