China Aid-supplied motorcycles and bicycles help child welfare officers

Child protection in emergencies

Gregory Gondwe
Social welfare officer for Machinga, Charles Kazembe
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Gregory Gondwe
29 June 2020

Charles Kazembe, 48, is a social welfare officer in Machinga, southern Malawi. As a focal point for child protection, he is required to travel around his district to attend to children in need.

However, a lack of resources often made it difficult to reach rural and remote areas. And when Cyclone Idai struck in March, 2019, the protection needs of children only intensified.

To make Kazembe’s job possible, and to ensure child rights were protected, UNICEF provided the social welfare officer with a motorcycle with funding provided by China Aid.

In total UNICEF procured 15 motorcycles and 360 bicycles, distributing them to 15 cyclone Idai affected districts and the Malawi Police Services.

Kazembe says the motorcycle provided by UNICEF significantly reduced the mobility challenges he previously faced while contributing to more timely response to child welfare cases.

“It’s a great relief because it makes my job manageable,” says Kazembe.

In one incident a couple of weeks ago, Kazembe was able to travel 55 km after a child was reported to have been sexually assaulted.

Kazembe was able to ensure the child was taken to hospital and receive psychosocial support. He also made sure the perpetrator was arrested.

"I personally followed up on the case using the motorcycle," he says.

Motorcycles procured through China Aid support, at the warehouse before distribution
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Gregory Gondwe
Motorcycles procured through China Aid support, at the warehouse before distribution

Kazembe also worked on a case of a household headed by a 16-year-old girl who was caring for her five siblings.

The girl had died in childbirth and Kazembe was dispatched to ensure the surviving children were being cared for by the community.

"I managed all this using the motorcycle which does not consume a lot of fuel compared to a car.”

Mwitiya Children’s Corner facilitator, Chikondi Kaphale, 26, received a bicycle from UNICEF which she says eased her mobility challenges.

“Before I got the bicycle I was either walking or borrowing a bicycle for transportation to get to the different Children’s Corners which were up to 20 km away.”

Now with the bicycle she says looks forward to enhanced coordination with other key players across the area she covers.