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Terre des hommes (Tdh) has been working in West Darfur since 2004, focusing on the protection of displaced children and their families. The ongoing conflict that started about ten years ago has made the living conditions harder for the population and results in about four million individuals relying on humanitarian assistance. Tdh extended its activities to Khartoum State in 2013, through a national program on juvenile justice, and will fuse its activities within the Community-Based Child Protection Committees and Networks (CBCPNs) within the next two years.
The capacity of families and communities to care for and protect their most vulnerable members is often undermined in complex humanitarian situations. This is especially harmful where formal social welfare systems lack the reach to deliver services in areas of greatest need.
In order to sustain children’s protection from violence, exploitation and abuse, Terre des hommes together with humanitarian actors have promoted the establishment of Community-Based Child Protection Committees and Networks (CBCPNs).
A CBCPN normally serves as a forum where community members meet, discuss child protection problems and research solutions. It is thus an informal community structure, representing all sectors in the community who have a role to play in protecting children – including children themselves. While bringing concrete solutions to the situation of individual children and young people, they also serve as platforms for holding duty-bearers accountable for promoting child rights, protecting children from violence and minors in conflict with the law.
Sallah Ahmed, Team Leader in Child Protection at Tdh Sudan, answers our questions:
In which ways CBCPNs can be more efficient than national authorities in protecting children?
“ CBCPNs could be more efficient than national authorities from three aspects:
- They are closer to the community than the national authorities, in terms of detecting and following-up cases, and mutual respect between different community segments;
- They speak the same local language and share the same community culture and habits;
- Children are their owns, which means that they will put more efforts into looking after them.”
How do you create a new Committee and how do you train its members?
“Firstly, CBCPNs are created through consulting and receiving approval from the community leaders. Then, we choose active community members who are willing to work for community affairs. We make sure that they are accepted in the community and have no past issues related to the CPP (editor’s note: Child Protection Policy). After setting up the CBCPN, we train them in the following topics: child rights, CPP, child protection, communication with children, case detection, following-up and referral, and other related topics.”
Do you feel that the communities are embracing this protection system?
“I think the community likes the idea, accepts and adopts it as an important mechanism to protect their children. But to be fully implemented and sustained, this will need many efforts from all concerned parties as there are so many challenges facing the CBCPN.”
Through these CBCPNs, how many children does Tdh cover? In which areas of Sudan?
“The project targets a total of 47,000 beneficiaries (22,400 ex-IDP’s; 1,800 ex-refugees; 15,600 host communities; 7,200 nomads ). The locations targeted include five IDPs camps (Ardamata, Krinidng, Dorti, Ryad, Abuzar) and Genina market, in West Darfur.”
According to you, what is the biggest challenge you and your team face every day?
“One of the biggest challenges is the severe economic situation, which makes it hard for CBCPNs members to get involved effectively in their activities. The lack of motivation among some community members is another one. In fact, some organizations pay incentive to community members, which harms the willingness among others.”
(Sources: UNOCHA 2012; Reliefweb)