Under the stewardship of @mglsd_UG the National Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC) Policy, 2004, was reviewed to ultimately develop the comprehensive National Child Policy that integrates all the four cardinal rights of the child that is survival and health, education and development, protection and participation.
Cabinet chaired by His Exellency the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on 22nd June, 2020 approved the National Child Policy 2020 which has repealed the National Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children Policy 2004
A Child in Uganda is a person below 18 years of age.
According to the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, Article 17 which stipulates the duties of a citizen, parents/caregivers have a statutory mandate to fulfil the realisation of children’s rights to enable them grow and develop to full potential
The National Child Policy 2020 is to foster child rights friendly, holistic and coordinated services provided to children by Government and Non-state actors.
It emphasizes a multi-sectoral approach/whole government approach to provide a holistic package of services to all Children at National, sub-National and community levels.
The National OVC Policy 2004 scope has been narrow owing to its focus on only Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children.
In addition, the National OVC Policy didn’t not address emerging challenges faced by children like online sexual abuse, Genital Mutilation, Child Sacrifice, child trafficking, increasing vulnerability of children due to climate-related hazards and urbanization.
Uganda’s population is largely a young one with over 56 percent of our population under the age of 18 years. Of these, approximately 51 percent are either critically or moderately vulnerable, while 63 percent (14.4 million children) live with caregivers other than their biological parents.
More than 56 percent (11.6 million) of Uganda’s children are deprived of six or more things or activities deemed essential by the majority of Ugandans.
The effects of child vulnerability are: Increased child crime occurrences, increased mortality rates, increased malnutrition, low productivity, illiteracy, poor school performance, psychosocial harm and physical harm, increased cost on medical expenses, mental health problem, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder expenses, mental health problem, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders.
The National Child Policy 2020 strives to improve the realization and enjoyment of all children’s rights to survival, development, protection, and participation through a well strengthened system by all children in Uganda
The National Child Policy 2020 was developed through a highly participatory process that involved a wide range of stakeholders with very vast knowledge on children at National, Regional, district and community levels
The Policy gives strategic direction and coordinates investments in interventions that address realisation of the broad rights of a child.
A Uganda where the rights of all children are respected, promoted, protected and fulfilled.
To promote the realisation of all children’s rights to survival, education and development, protection and participation through a coordinated, comprehensive interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach.
Care, respect, equity, rights-based, transparency and accountability.
Improved realization and enjoyment of all children’s rights to survival, development, protection, and participation by all children in Uganda.
Specific Policy Objectives
a) To prevent child mortality and promote children’s health, including refugee children
b) To promote nurturing, care, stimulation and holistic development and learning for all children
c) To prevent, respond to, and protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
d) To promote the right of all children to be heard and express their opinions in all matters that affect their lives according to their developing capacities
e) To strengthen systems for planning, programming and delivery of quality child care and protection services
The Policy identifies five core priority areas to guide the attainment of the set objectives, strategies and interventions. These are:
- Child Survival and Health; Under thisobjective, the policy seeks to support programmes aimed at preventing child mortality and promoting children’s health, including for refugee children. The government will work with development partners to develop and implement programmes and strategies aimed at enhancing access to user-friendly: maternal and new-born healthcare; appropriate care and treatment of major childhood diseases; vaccination against preventable diseases; nutrition interventions; malaria prevention and treatment; HIV prevention and treatment; water and sanitation interventions and intensify community awareness on child survival and health at all levels.
- Education and Development; The Government of Uganda already has in place a number of policies and strategies that addresses the need for timely reach of essential Early Childhood Development services and support for all children 0-8 years, responding to diversity, engagement of parents and families as partners, and harmonizing and maximizing investment across the respective ECD sectors; access to free, universal and equitable primary, secondary education and vocational training. The existing policy also promotes access to special needs and inclusive education. The new Policy therefore seeks to promote nurturing care, stimulation and holistic development and learning for all children.
- Child Care and Protection; under this objective, the policy is to provide a coordinated national frame work to prevent, respond to, and protect children from all forms of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. At the core of this policy is strengthening the capacity of families to care for children and prevent unnecessary child-family separation, and where not possible to improve the permanency planning through quality of alternative care options for children deprived of family care.
- Child Participation; This seeks topromote the right of all children to be heard and express their opinions in all matters involving and affecting them, according to their developing capacities. The government will work with partners toensure that child participation is more systematically practiced in child rights governance mechanisms as a contribution towards the realization of their rights, but also all sectors and processes.
- Systems Strengthening; lastly, this objective is intended to strengthen systems for planning, programming and delivery of quality child rights friendly and comprehensive services to children to ensure their growth and development to full potential. The Government will, therefore, work with partners to build and strengthen holistic and integrated systems and models to promote the best interests of the child as well as devote all efforts and work with all partners to build and maintain a strong evidence base on which all future child targeted interventions and programmes can be effectively planned, implemented, monitored and evaluated.
Key stakeholders and their responsibilities are well articulated in the Policy. They include:
- Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development- provides overall leadership and oversight in coordinating the implementation of the policy.
- Ministry of Local Government: Ensuring that District Local Governments integrate/mainstream interventions that contribute to improving child-wellbeing in regard to Survival and Health, Education and Development, Care and Protection, Participation and Systems Strengthening in their 5 year and annual work plans and budgets.
- A string of other Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments will also ensure implementation of the policy in their respective sectors. The roles and responsibilities shall vary according to their mandates and functions.
The National Child Policy 2020 (NCP) demonstrates the commitment by the Government of Uganda to ensure the well-being of all children. It is another big stride in the Country’s efforts to uphold children rights and protect them from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.
The policy recognises the Para Social Workers as a critical community group to work with other structures in reporting and responding to child abuses at community level.