The child rights alliance Joining Forces in Africa is receiving €10 million from the European Union to protect children from violence in the Covid-19 crisis. Led by Plan International, the three-year project will support 718,000 children in five African countries.
“It is the children who are suffering the most from the negative effects of the Corona pandemic. They are the hidden victims of this crisis” says Maike Röttger, Chair of the Board of Plan International Germany. “Due to curfews, girls and boys are at high risk of domestic and sexual violence. With Joining Forces for Africa, we have created a powerful and implementable project that, with the financial support of the European Union, can improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of girls and boys.” The Joining Forces for Africa – Protecting Children from Violence during the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond (JOFA) project is led by Plan International Germany. In Germany, World Vision is also one of the project’s executing agencies.
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 due to a high risk of negative impact from the pandemic and the resulting need for child protection on the ground. “Our analyses on the ground show that gaps in child protection and lack of support are now having a dramatic impact,” said Christoph Waffenschmidt, Chief Executive Officer of World Vision Germany.
According to the report, violence against children by parents has increased, as have sexual abuse and rape of girls and 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, despite many efforts by NGOs and governments to continue providing education. 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.
In addition to Plan International and World Vision, ChildFund International, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes and SOS-Children’s Villages International are also involved in the implementation of the project.
The concrete measures include:
Strengthening and establishing child helplines to enable girls and boys to confidentially report incidents of sexual violence.
Training in children’s and youth clubs: girls and boys are educated about their rights so that they can demand and represent them in their families and communities.
Supporting parents in coping with stress, building skills for positive parenting and supporting each other in difficult times.
Producing and distributing information materials for families and children on child protection to raise awareness of this in communities.
For more information on the project and the alliance, click here.