Save the Children, Ethiopia has successfully piloted community

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					     Community Mechanism: the Best mechanism for the Protection of
                       Children in Emergency

                                             Case Study by Save the Children UK, Ethiopia
The Somali Region lies in the East and is the second largest of the nine Regions of
Ethiopian. The Region has a population of 4,445,219 in mid 2007of which 53% are
children.1 About 86% of the population lives in rural areas and are mainly pastoralist.2
The Region suffers from recurrent drought, famine and flood. In various parts of the
Regions, conflict between clans is also a usual phenomenon. Save the Children UK has
more than 10 years of working in the Region with focus on access to education. In line
with the Government’s ESDP III (Education Sector Development Plan); Save the
Children has been working on the gap in the quality of education. Across the region,
among 51% of the children who are accessing school; only 7% are completing primary
education and the repetition rate stands at 17%.3 Children’s vulnerability to various
form of abuse constitutes the major factor deterring the children from completing
primary education.4

The natural disasters as well as conflict are forcing the children to drop out of school
further exposing them to various forms of abuse. Recent assessment conducted by Save
the Children, UK reveals the most prevalent types of abuses of children being corporal
punishment, child labour, early marriage, female genital mutilations and other harmful
traditional practices.5 Regarding the protection mechanism, the same assessment
identified three coexisting protection systems: the formal government system, the
Sheria court and the customary system. The community mainly relies on the customary
system6. Formal legal remedy is resorted only when elders are not able to solve cases or
when one of the parties in the dispute is dissatisfied with the decision of the elders. On
the other hand, Sheria courts deal with limited types of cases mainly neglect, child
custody and child support in case of family disputes. The existing customary protection
mechanisms however, were not child focused. Hence, the children were denied of
accessing the customary mechanism for their wellbeing. This context calls for
interventions that should focus on strengthening child friendly customary protection
mechanisms. Accordingly, Save the Children mobilized the community and established
community child protection groups in October 2010.

  Central Statistical Agency, 2008. Census 2007
  Education Statistics Annual Abstract, The Ministry of Education, 2009/10
  Education Situation Analysis in Shinillie Zone of Somali Region, SC UK, 2010
  Child Protection in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, SCUK, Islamic Relief and Mercy Corps, 2011
The Community Mechanism
The community child protection group has been piloted in four different communities of
the Region (Muli, Tulaytu, Kurfasawa and Armalie localities). Members of the
community group were defined to constitute relevant stakeholders from the community
as well as from the government. The inclusion of the government within the community
mechanism was justified due to the need of linking the customary protection
mechanisms to legally mandated government offices to strengthen referral. Accordingly,
the community group constituted community elders, religious leaders, and teachers,
women representatives, public prosecution office, the court, the police, local
administrator and education office. The mandate is defined as: “conducting series of
community awareness on the rights of children and responding to child abuse concerns”.
For the group to efficiently implement its mandate, SCUK has provided training on child
development, positive disciplining, child abuse and its impact on children and effective
parenting skills. Likewise, suggestion boxes were installed in schools so that children
would place in the boxes any child abuse concern in the community and schools.
Furthermore, children were provided with reading books that inform them on the types
of abuses, their impact on children and the available remedies. This tool has equipped
the children to identify behaviors and deeds that are abusive and to report same
concerns via the suggestion boxes.

SCUK staff discussing with community child protection group

The community group has been successful in responding to more than 100 reports of
child abuse concerns the major ones being corporal punishment, early marriage,
teachers’ negligence practice in teaching and teachers scolding children. This has
contributed to the wellbeing of children by changing prevailing attitudes towards
children. It has also alerted parents and teachers to be cautious of their abusive
behavior towards children. Mosques have also started sensitizing the community about
the wellbeing of children and the role of the community. This significantly contributed in
changing attitudes to the best interest of the children.

                                                                           Case Study written by:
                                                                                     Aster Girma
                                                              Child Protection Technical Manager

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