CFCI Sri Lanka
CFCI Sri Lanka
What is the CFCI
A Child-Friendly City (CFC) is a city, town, community or any system of local governance committed to improving the lives of children within their jurisdiction by realizing their rights as articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In practice, it is a city, town or community in which the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children are an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions.
There are 5 key goals that CFC Initiative aims to achieve.
- The right to be valued, respected, and treated fairly.
- The right to be heard.
- The right to essentially services.
- The right to be safe.
- The right to family time, play and leisure.
In achieving these key 5 goals, the Child Friendly Cities Initiative are guided by four key articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Non-discrimination (Article 2):
The rights of all children are respected, without discrimination of any kind irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
Best interests of the child (Article 3):
The best interests of children are a primary consideration in decisions that may affect them with State Parties assuring the care and protection necessary for their wellbeing.
The inherent right to life, survival and development (Article 6):
Children have the right to life, with States Parties committed to ensuring the maximum extent possible, their right to survival and healthy development.
Respect for the views of the child (Article 12):
Children have the right to voice their opinions and have these be taken into account in decisions that affect them.
The CFCI approach indirectly supports local governments in implementing the 2030 Agenda through holistically addressing issues related to the health and well-being of children and families at the local level. The link between the CFCI and the 2030 Agenda, therefore, is not only about mirroring the SDG targets, but also about focusing on local development.
CFCI in Sri Lanka
1.1 Introduction of the pilot project in Sri Lanka
The Batticaloa Municipal Council and UNICEF Sri Lanka have begun the journey to transform the Batticaloa Municipality into the first Child-Friendly City (CFC) in Sri Lanka in 2018, recognising key challenges in Batticaloa that may hamper full development of children as well as the strong potential of improving city in bringing about positive changes for children. The vision of the CFCI in Sri Lanka is to make Batticaloa, as well as other cities, a place where every child can enjoy their childhood, reach their full potential through the equal realization of their rights, with their voices, needs, and priorities forming an integral part of the local government’s policies, programmes, and decisions.
In line with this, the CFCI in Sri Lanka aims to:
- Improve the physical environment for children, specifically related to education, safety and protection, play and leisure;
- Strengthen awareness and understanding of child rights by community members, including children themselves;
- Enhance children’s participation in the decision-making process of local government;
- Strengthen evidence-based planning and policy to respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged.
The current Mayor (Mr. T. Saravanapavan) and his team are strongly committed to improving the lives of children in its jurisdiction, effectively utilising learnings from the study visit to three Child-Friendly Cities in the Republic of Korea – namely Seong-Dong gu, No-Won gu, and Se-Jong City. The Batticaloa Municipality has shown significant progress since their first step in this journey (the details of the achievement are here.
1.2 Introduction and background of Batticaloa
Batticaloa district one of the three districts in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, consists of 14 District Secretariat (DS) divisions, has a total population of 526,567, with the majority being Tamils (72.7%). It is a predominantly rural area, and the main livelihood has shifted away from agriculture, livestock and fishing to more service sector jobs, especially in the booming tourism industry in the Eastern Province. However, this is concentrated to a few locations and cities in the district, with many communities still living in isolation and struggling. Batticaloa was also severely affected by three decades of civil war and the destructive 2004 Tsunami, and 11.3 per cent of the population still lives below the national poverty line.
The Municipality of Batticaloa is located within the Batticaloa district, with its Municipal Council (MC) established in 1967. The Batticaloa MC oversees 48 Grama Niladhari (GN) Divisions, with a population of 86,227. The Batticaloa MC is the responsible local body for many essential services, such as education and health, that have a direct link to its 28,179 children, and UNICEF Sri Lanka, particularly through its Field Office in Batticaloa, has been supporting the MC in realising the rights of children. This support is firmly based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which Sri Lanka signed on 26th January 1990 and ratified on 12th July 1991, and is also deeply embodied in the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI).
The country has made good progress in its promotion of child rights, with more recent amendments to laws such the Children and Young Persons Ordinance (CYPO) No. 48 of 1939, National Policy on Disability 2003, and National Policy on Child Protection, with advocacy and technical support from UNICEF and others. The challenges, however, lie in translating the policies into action and practice with sufficient financial investment. The budget allocated for children as a percentage of the Total National Expenditure (TNE) stood at 11.38 per cent in 2016. Even though the 2019 budget promised to invest more in children and their wellbeing, in addition to including them in policies such as Vision 2025 and amending outdated child protection legislation, there is still significant room for improvements, particularly in areas of the country that face development challenges in fully recognising the rights of a child and promoting child-friendly environments.
1.3 Key stakeholders
- CFC team in the Municipal Council (MC) led by the Mayor: The dedicated CFC team as part of the /mc was established with the leadership of the Mayor to spearhead the implementation of the CFC Initiative in Batticaloa Municipality. It consists of 12 members who are Management Assistants of respective internal branches of the Municipal Council.
- Local authorities such as Road Development Authority (RDA) and Regional Department of Health Services (RDHS): Various local authorities especially the entities that are responsible for essential services for children and community members, have become key part of the CFCI to ensure child-friendly provision of key services.
- Local communities including ward-based focal group: Local community members have been actively engaged in planning as well as implementation of the CFCI. Especially ward-based focal group is comprised of representatives from Children’s Club, Youth Club, Rural Development Society (RDS), Women Rural Development Society, and Sports club, inviting women, youth, and children. These ward-based focal groups have participated in consultations to identify priority needs of their neighbourhood and to develop ward-based action plans.
- Children and Youth: Children and youth are important integral part of the CFCI in Batticaloa Municipality. They have provided their ideas and opinions on how to improve Batticaloa to become more child-friendly through the “Big-Idea Campaign” organised in 2020 with the guidance from the Mayor to hear the voices of children and youth. The campaign collected more than 4,000 ideas from the participated children. Children and youth also participated in the Budget Consultation of the Municipality for the first time in the history to learn about how the budget is allocated within the municipality.
- CSO partner including CERI: With its technical expertise and strong local-level networks, CSO partner especially the implementing partner CERI (Children's Emergency Relief International) have been critical part of the CFCI in Batticaloa. They have been engaged in throughout the planning and implementation process of the CFCI and are also significantly contributing to regular monitoring of the CFCI.
- UNICEF Sri Lanka: UNICEF Sri Lanka, with its strong presence in Batticaloa through its Field Office, has supported Batticaloa Municipality to become the first Child-Friendly City in Sri Lanka and in South Asia by providing technical assistance to raising awareness on Child Rights as well as the concept of Child-Friendliness, to overall planning and designing of the initiative, implementation and monitoring.
1.4 Scale up of the CFC initiative
Recognising the positive impacts the CFCI can bring to children and furthermore to the entire community, the neighbouring districts and municipalities have been expressing their strong interests in the CFCI.
For instance, significantly inspired by the CFCI in Batticaloa, the Secretary, who has also been part of CFCI journey of Batticaloa and a strong advocate of the Child Rights, has shown her commitment to create Child-Friendly Pradeshiya Sabha in Manmunai South-West Kokkaddichcholai Batticaloa. The Pradeshiya Sabha lags in overall development, with daily wage as primary income source of its people. The needs of meaningful child and youth participation for inclusive local governance system have been highlighted and promoted.
The CFCI team of UNICEF Sri Lanka currently plans to support scale-up of the initiative to the neighbouring districts and municipality in Eastern Province primarily and eventually to the entire country.
Progress of the CFCI in Sri Lanka
“Before” and “After”
Overall introduction of the place
- Name of the place: Ministry of Health (MoH) Clinic Centre
- Location of the place
- Main target users: Any community members including children, parents and guardians
Updates of the month
Key update of the month 1: short paragraph on key activities
Key update of the month 2: short paragraph on key activities