Children in West and Central Africa

UNICEF in the region

Polio immunization

Child and Maternal Health


HIV/AIDS in the region


Water and sanitation

Child protection


Directions of child protection in the region

In June 2008, the UNICEF board approved a global child protection strategy. The strategy marks a new direction in the strengthening of national systems for preventing and responding to child abuse, exploitation and violence against children. In order to implement the strategy in West and Central Africa requires a shift from programmes and projects that focus on specific protection issues and groups of vulnerable children to coherent and integrated nation-wide systems that can prevent and respond to a range of child protection issues; a systems approach to child protection in emergencies; and developing effective approaches support social change and that are based on an understanding of local culture and social norms.

Child protection priorities for West and Central Africa include:

  • Map and develop child protection systems that are adapted to specific country contexts
  • Strengthen links between child protection (social welfare) services and social protection transfers, education, health, justice and security
  • Strengthen partnerships for child protection by integrating child protection in poverty reduction strategies, SWAPs in health, education and HIV/AIDS, and in national planning and budgeting processes
  • Promote the common UN Justice for Children framework within the rule of law agenda (with UNDP and the World Bank)
  • Develop effective community-based child protection mechanisms that integrate child protection health, HIV/AIDS, ECD, C4D and governance
  • Develop a comprehensive response to child migration and exploitation that promotes children’s development and protection and is based on the realities of child mobility in the region
  • Develop effective strategies for laying the groundwork for sustainable child protection systems during emergencies and transition periods
  • Strengthen the effectiveness of child protection in protracted emergencies and transition periods
  • Strengthen emergency preparedness and response
  • Develop a coherent approach to promoting social norms that promote children’s rights
  • Advocate and disseminate guidance for the prevention of and response to violence against children in education environments
  • Strengthen research, evaluations and data for an evidence-based approach to child protection
  • Strengthen capacities in key child protection areas (e.g. data and indicator systems, budgeting, social protection, social work, emergency response, qualitative research methods)
  • Strengthen birth and civil registration as part of health systems and local governance systems.



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