Civil society organisations working on child rights issues in East and Southern Africa have intensified their engagement with Governments on increased, equitable and adequate resources to child-focused sectors such as health, education and social protection.
As an initial response to training conducted by SAPST to CSOs in Botswana and Lesotho in November, the CSO coalitions of child-focused organizations resolved to strengthen their tracking and monitoring of national budgets.
Another key action point identified by CSOs in these countries is to increase engagement with relevant parliamentary portfolio committees on child-focused budget lines. The CSOs in both countries intend to demand accountability through engagement with both the Executive and Parliament.
SAPST also had an opportunity to train CSOs in East Africa. In collaboration with the East African Child Rights Network, SAPST conducted training for child-focused CSO coalitions drawn from Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Discussions during this workshop held in South Sudan from 27 to 30 November, also emphasized the need to strengthen parliamentary engagement by CSOs on child-sensitive budgeting.
The importance of Parliament’s oversight role in the budget formulation and implementation also took centre stage at a wider forum of CSOs from across the continent. At the invitation of the Save the Children Pan African Office, SAPST conducted training on effective parliamentary engagement by CSOs on the national budget. The workshop was held in Khartoum in December just before the commencement of the 30th session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. At the end of the workshop, there was a consensus that it is critical for this training to be replicated at the national level for both parliamentarians and CSOs.
Beyond engagement at the national level, a common thread drawn from the interactions SAPST had with child rights CSOs in East and Southern Africa, is the need to engage regional bodies on investment in children.
SAPST conducted comprehensive research on the best practices relating to resourcing for children in East and Southern Africa. The findings of this research were presented to the Standing Committee on Democratisation, Governance and Human Rights of the SADC PF in November 2017.
Members of the standing committee appreciated the findings and resolved that they would propose that resourcing for children’s rights be prioritised by the SADC PF plenary. In addition, the committee agreed that it will explore the possibility of influencing policy on child rights at the SADC level. SAPST’s experience with engaging the SADC PF on prioritization of child-sensitive budgets serves as a good example of the possibilities in engaging regional bodies. Through collaboration with CSOs in East and Southern Africa, SAPST intends to assist other organizations to begin to engage at the regional level.
It is critical that the East and Southern Africa regions begin to pay attention to investment in children given the changing demographics which show that by 2050, more than 40% of the population will be made up of people who are below the age of 18.