Governor Samboja Administration readies policies to protect children
Taita Taveta County has joined other nations of the African continent in commemorating the Day of the African Child under the theme: 30 years after the adoption of the Charter: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children”.
This is in the context of 2016 when the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child ACERWC established the 25-year Agenda namely Agenda 2040 to restore the dignity of the African child through assessing the achievements and challenges faced towards the effective implementation of the African Children’s Charter.
H.E. Governor Granton Samboja and H.E. First Lady Stellah Samboja have worked industriously to localise the agenda through legislation and combing through the grassroots level to ensure all children are protected as enshrined by the Constitution.
During the virtual celebrations held at Mwatate Youth Empowerment Centre, where chief guests were 2 school-going girls,  Director Gender and Social Services, Wallace Mwaluma stated that under the able stewardship of Governor Samboja there has been the realisation of the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence SGBV policy which was passed by the County Assembly.
“ The Child Welfare and Protection draft policy has been presented to the legislators, while the Anti-FGM draft being at advanced stages of development, has undergone stakeholder validation. The legal frameworks all target to protect the children, “ Mr Mwaluma reiterated.
Mr Mwaluma, also a moderator of the virtual event added that the Office of the First Lady and his department are on a field mission to ensure a county-wide distribution of feminine hygiene products to schools to remember the Taita Taveta County Child.
The Office of the First Lady further has initiatives to support adolescent health in partnership with Red Cross, and has collaborated with AIC CURE International Hospital Kijabe to address the medical needs of children with orthopaedic conditions.
The Director told his audience that the agenda set by ACERWC is a 25-year journey that includes and not limited to ensuring an effective child-friendly national legislative, policy and institutional framework, every childbirth vital statistics are registered, every child survives and enjoys access to quality health and education services.
County Children’s Coordinator Masiwa Boga, logged in the event virtually, elaborated that the Agenda also set to target that every child is protected against violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse, grows up well-nourished with access to the necessities of life and benefits from a child-sensitive criminal system.
During the meeting, it was revealed that police stations have adopted child-friendly approaches with the Gender Desk Officers wearing civilian clothing so that children could provide information with no fear.
The majority of cases stemmed from neglect, incest, child labour and Sexual Gender-Based Violence.
Fatma Omara, Sub County Director Education, holding brief for Director Education Mwatate Simon Kinyanjui cautioned parents to be more responsible for their children and not leave the burden to anyone else.
“  Tasking grandparents to rear your kids may be well-meaning but remember that they are older and may not be aggressive enough to make sure children go to school, and also get the right food, nutrition,  health and medication,” the statement went.
From the remarks, it was noted that poverty led to child labour and loitering.
The Government officer affirmed that the education department has been collating data in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior to help in ensuring children attend school.
World Vision Cluster Manager Kwale and Taita Taveta Counties Alfred Otungo noted with concern how harmful cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation FGM reversed child protection mechanisms put in place.
However, he held with high regard the multisectoral approach collaborations with the County Government of Taita Taveta noting that this aligns with Agenda 2040 which creates a conducive environment for non-discrimination, good health, prevented infections and that those under 18 years of age get their voices amplified when it came to issues of development.
“ Advocacy is bearing fruits as through this Agenda we seek perspectives of children, understand realities based on inputs and ultimately providing solutions, “ Mr Otungo said.
“ I thank the County Government for all efforts made to protect us,” concluded one of the guests of honour who attends primary school.
The Day of the African Child is celebrated every June 16th annually since 1991, after initiation by the Organisation of African Unity OAU to honour those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day.
The day too is a reminder of the need to raise awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.
In attendance were Administrator Governor’s Office Loice Shali, the pupil’s teacher, John Menja Sub County Children’s Officer Wundanyi, Rodah Msafari Project Officer World Vision among other senior officials.