|© UNICEF Tanzania/2008/ Badi|
|Left to right: UNICEF Deputy Representative to Tanzania Hasmik Egian Permanent Secretary Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children Mariam Mwaffisi and Musa Mrisho, age 15, a youth photographer from Kigoma, admiring one of exhibition panels soon after it was launched.|
By Jacqueline Namfua & Dominick Mwita
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 9 December 2008 – Tanzania commemorated the 19th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child last month with a declaration that all stakeholders should focus on fighting poverty as the key to the fulfillment of children’s rights.
The event was marked by the launch of the UNICEF brief ‘Child Poverty and Disparities in Tanzania 2008’ and a special photography exhibition called ‘Poverty through the Eyes of Children’ by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development Gender and Children, Mariam Mwaffisi.
The photography exhibition featured images taken by 15 children between the ages of 10 and 16 from Nyarugusu Refugee camp and host communities in north-western Tanzania. The children participated in a five-day photography workshop supported by UNICEF in partnership with World Vision in September of this year.
Musa Mrisho, age 15, thanked UNICEF for the opportunity to attend the workshop, saying: “Taking pictures at the local market, schools, health facilities and the refugee camp was an eye-opener that allowed us to see how poverty affects children in our communities and the refugee camps.”
UNICEF Tanzania Deputy Representative Hasmik Egian praised the efforts of the children who participated in the exhibition for bringing the reality of poverty to the forefront of public consciousness through their photos.
“We will learn a lot from those images taken by children, and I must admit, I am truly touched by them, considering that all but one of these children had held a camera before the five-day photography workshop in which they participated earlier this year,” she said.
Ms. Egian said the exhibition was particularly important as the perception of poverty through the eyes of children is very different from that of adults and therefore offers an opportunity to see poverty from a different perspective.
“The images these children have taken are a stark representation of how they see their world, their communities and the lives of other children. We need to empower children for their voices to be heard, because as these photographs here show, when given the opportunity, the children have a lot to tell us about the world around them – through their eyes.”
A better place for children
Referring to the exhibition, Ms. Mwaffisi reiterated that while it was the government’s responsibility to promote and protect the rights of children, the intentional community, non-state actors and the general public need to support national efforts.
“It is our duty to put our efforts to the development of children because promotion and protection of the rights of children as enriched in the CRC and its optional protocols need concerted efforts,” she said. “We need to strategize options to reduce poverty.”
According to 'Child Poverty and Disparities in Tanzania 2008', over one-third of all households in Tanzania live below the basic needs poverty line.
“Whatever we can do in the continuation of making a better place for children in our own organizations... and as individuals, can and will make a difference and build Tanzania,” said Ms. Mwaffisi.