Sweden allocates 5.8 million USD to UNICEF for Child Protection Programmes

Funding will support different key interventions to protect children against violence, abuse, and exploitation

By Edward Makuzva

Ambassador of Sweden in Zimbabwe Ms Åsa Pehrson and UNICEF Representative Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, Tuesday, signed a funding agreement of US$5.8 million to support child protection programmes in Zimbabwe.

Speaking at the fund ceremony representing Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare, Director of Social Development, Tawanda Zimhunga said the Zimbabwean government was committed to addressing all forms of violence against children.

Zimhunga said the support rendered today will go a long way in improving the well-being of children, particularly those who are marginalized and vulnerable.

“Our aim is to create a Zimbabwe fit for children through strategic partnerships and expand child protection financing through the child protection fund which dates back to 2011.

“On behalf of the Zimbabwean government and my own behalf, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the people of Sweden for the continued financial support over the years,”  Zimhunga explained.

In her opening remarks Ambassador Pehrson added that Sweden’s contribution to the social sectors has over the years contributed to the resuscitation of the health, education, child protection and water and sanitation sectors of Zimbabwe.

“The latest grant of SEK 60 Million through UNICEF’s child protection programme, is part of the ongoing financial support availed by the Swedish government to Zimbabwe in support of UNICEF’s country programme for 2022-2026.

“Sweden believes that efficient protection is essential to the children’s wellbeing because, as vulnerable people, they are more exposed to issues of mistreatment, exploitation, discrimination and violence”, said Ambassador Pehrson.

She highlighted that Sweden’s support for children is governed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Convention is a human rights treaty that sets out civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children-rights that may be infringed from time to time.

She added that the new fund will cover a wide range of child protection issues from violence, abuse and neglect of children, child marriage, teenage pregnancies, child trafficking, sexual violence and sexual exploitation of children, child poverty, children in contact/conflict with the law, and birth registration.

Worldwide children experience various forms of violence, exploitation, and abuse.

It happens in every country and even in the places children should be most protected – their homes and schools. Violence against children can be physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

Speaking at the same occasion, UNICEF Country Representative, Zimbabwe, Dr Tajudeen Oyewale added that the US$5.8 Million gesture by Sweden comes after the successful hosting of the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Child Protection Financing co-convened by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, UNICEF, and the Zimbabwe Economics Society in July 2022.

Oyewale said Sweden has been a long-term partner and donor to the protection sector in Zimbabwe.

“We are grateful to the Government of Sweden for this new contribution that will enable the fulfilment and realization of children’s rights to protection in Zimbabwe.

“We hope that many other countries will soon follow Sweden’s example and join the Child Protection Fund’, said Dr Oyewale.

Statistics reveal that one in three girls under 18 in Zimbabwe experience sexual violence leading to teen pregnancy and early marriage. 21% of girls aged 15-18 are married or in unions.

The funding from Sweden will be used primarily in ten districts namely Binga, Chiredzi, Bulilima, Buhera, Zvishavane, Mbire, Epworth, Beitbridge, Mutasa and Bulawayo.

Through its US$5.8 million funding to UNICEF, Sweden will support the efforts of the Government of Zimbabwe in five programme areas that are critical to protecting children against violence, abuse and exploitation;

(1) access to response services for the most vulnerable children through the National Case Management System.

(2) prevention of Violence Against Children and Gender Based Violence through interventions that address harmful practices, social and gender norms and behavioural drivers of violence.
(3) access to justice for children.

(4) access to birth registration services, and (5) policy, legal and regulatory framework improvements.

The districts have been selected based on the following key deprivation factors: urban, rural, and peri-urban locations; poorest and vulnerable districts; districts prone to climate shocks; and remote districts to address the leave no one behind dimension.

Meanwhile, the signing of the agreement between Sweden and UNICEF coincides with the launch by UNICEF of a communication campaign on child protection focusing particularly on birth registration, children with disabilities, community childcare workers and child-friendly justice.

The first phase of the Child Protection Fund (CPF) was from 2011-2016 and was co-funded by Sweden, UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, and European Union. It focused primarily on addressing the needs of orphans and highly vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.

One key achievement under CPF I was the rollout of child protection and welfare services to 37 districts benefitting 47,500 children through a strengthened social welfare workforce programme.

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