Children in West and Central Africa

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Child protection systems

There is wide recognition among child protection advocates that traditional protection work has not sufficiently prevented or responded to child protection concerns. Child protection actors now promote the need to shift away from issue-specific, small-scale projects towards a systems approach that includes a strong focus on prevention and efficiency. This new approach aims to move the child protection sector away from isolated, disconnected projects towards a more systematic policy development and programming that considers the child and family in a more holistic fashion and better coordinates national efforts on all levels.

At the national level, a systems approach requires strong leadership, long-term investments, changes to established ways of ‘doing’ child protection, and greater consultation with other sectors (e.g. social protection, education, health, etc). It also requires strong links and coordination between community-based child protection mechanisms and formal systems. To do this, systems-related evidence is required to create a common understanding of existing structures, build public consensus and guide national decision making.

As a first step to strengthening national child protection systems in WCAR, Plan International, Save the Children International and UNICEF WCARO came together in 2009 with national partners to initiate a regional child protection systems mapping, assessment and analysis exercise in five pilot countries: Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Niger. These countries and others have now completed a comprehensive mapping of their national system and are using this new evidence to influence advocacy, strategic planning and programming. A 5-country multi-country analysis of the pilot countries was also produced, highlighting common gaps and opportunities for systems strengthening in the region.

Building on mapping work, UNICEF WCARO, UNICEF EASRO, Save the Children International, Plan International, World Vision International, African Child Policy Forum, Terre de Hommes and REPPSI have now joined forces to support national efforts through creating a new platform for learning, exchange and innovations around systems strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa. Key contributions to date include the production of the first policy and programming resource guide for strengthening national children protection systems, development of a working paper on what we know about strengthening national child protection systems in sub-Saharan Africa and an interagency expert consultation on strengthening national child protection systems in sub-Saharan Africa held in Nairobi, September 2011. Save the Children Resource Center

A larger conference on strengthening national child protection systems will be organized for May 2012 in Dakar, Senegal. More information on the conference will be posted on the website in early 2012.

For individual country reports and multi-country analysis, as well as the mapping methodology, please click the links below.

Multicountry analysis

Mapping and Assessing Child Protection Systems in West and Central Africa

Country reports



Research Manual

Child Protection Systems Mapping and Analysis in West and Central Africa

External links open in a new window and take you to a non-UNICEF web site.



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