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On a mission of creating child friendly communities

On a mission of creating child friendly communities

CINI has been working as a facilitator to help bridge the gap in knowledge, skill and access to services and bring sustainable change in community behaviours and practices for creating a better world for children

Published on January 26, 2021 at 4:21 am

Updated on February 10, 2021 at 07:51 am

Children group members updating their child tracking register.

The objective of the project is to demonstrate a preventive model of creating “family/community-based safety net” for children through convergent action adopting CINI’s child friendly community approach in the district of Murshidabad. It also aims to consolidate the model on the basis of evidence in a way to make it replicable in other settings.

Project: Strengthening child friendly communities through demonstrative action and building evidences

SDG/s linked: The project was aligned with the current international human rights-based Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda 1 to 6, 10, 11 and 16 hinging on the notion of “leaving no one behind”. It is further coherent with the rights of the citizen as defined in the Indian Constitution and links with the key national programmes and policies for children. It aspires to contribute to the overarching SDG vision of “accelerating sustainable development with human rights”.

CINI has been implementing this project in two gram panchayats of Murshidabad district reaching around 64,000 populations and impacting the lives of approx. 33,000 children. The core institutional principles that were followed include:

Setting accountability of the duty-bearers: Various sensitization and capacity building programmes have been done with community groups like SHGs, Children’s groups, service providers like ASHA, Anganwadi workers, teachers, police and PRI members.

Outcomes:

The roles and responsibilities of each group of duty-bearers have been clarified, which has been translated into action by providing services. The ‘Social Pacts’ have been signed by these major group of duty-bearers in both the GPs as an agreement to act upon the issues of children in their community jointly.

Participation: Children’s groups have been formed in all 35 sansads of the gram panchayat. Children Parliament was formed at the GP level taking representatives from each children’s group. Formed/Strengthened Kanyashree club and Children Parliament at gram panchayat level. Adolescent boys and girls from each sansad have been promoted as leaders and started representing themselves in the Village-Level Child Protection Committee, Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Committee etc. The leaders of children’s group started representing in various government-mandated platforms like Child Cabinet in schools, VLCPC, Kanyashree Club, BLCPC (Vlock-Level Child Protection Committee).

Outcomes:

Children are considered as equal stakeholder in the social development process and their voice is being heard by strengthening their agencies.

Children are advocating for their issues in these various platforms. Child budgeting exercises have been conducted where members of Children’s Parliament have placed their issues, negotiated and been able to increase the budget for children in the overall panchayat budget.

Multisectoral Convergence: The Village Level Child Protection Committees have been formed and strengthened in all 35 sansads. The government-mandated platforms of convergence like 3rd and 4th Saturday meetings have been strengthened in both the gram panchayats. The Village Health Nutrition Day has been supported to ensure better service delivery through convergence of health and nutrition programmes by the government.

Outcomes:

The issues of children around education, protection, health and nutrition are being addressed by Village Level Child Protection Committees. The PRI representatives, SHGs, service providers along with children groups analysed, prioritised and prepared plan for children in every sansads, which then contributed in the preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plans, which Panchayat prepare every year.

Prevention: The community groups like SHG, Children’s groups, service providers and PRI members have been sensitized on children’s issues and capacitated to act upon them. A resource pool of knowledge was created among them, who could sensitise a larger community. The duty-bearers are facilitated and supported to do collective analysis of the problems through social mapping and vulnerability assessment. The duty-bearers are supported to prioritise the process through ranking method, prepare community plan for each village, link the vulnerable children to services, monitor and track the vulnerable children and do follow-ups. Promoted the process making SHG and Children’s Group members as the front line or lead in the process with active participation and involvement of PRI and service providers.

Outcomes:

The community plans for children are included in the annual plan of gram panchayats. SHGs, children and adolescents are leading the preparation of their plans and submitting it at the respective Gram Sansads, prioritising their needs. Involvement of children and adolescents in preparation of annual GP plan and budget where allocation has been made from two major committees of GP; Women, Child and Social Welfare committee and Education and Public Health Committee.

Many cases of out of school, child marriage and abuse are now being handled by the duty-bearers themselves. These two gram panchayats have been appreciated for their effort in stopping child marriage and setting prevention mechanism by strengthening Balika Badhu group and Kanyashree Joddha group for reducing child marriage and increasing school retention.

Social resource map being updated.

Challenges

  • Bringing all duty-bearers in one single framework of action had been a challenge initially which have been managed by continuous follow-ups and capacity building exercises and by applying PLA techniques.
  • Frequent change in the lead position (Panchayat Pradhan) in local government position was a challenge as it delayed the process community mobilisation and convergent actions. Bringing the social development issues as the priority agenda of local self-government mandate was initially a challenge, but constant dialogues, especially interactions by children themselves, have been effective.

Impact

The project, as the table below will illustrate, exceeded the targets the children’s plan made in close collaboration with the child friendly institutions and the community does not focus on figures alone. While the implementation of the plan in the Bajitpur and Mahisail-I GPs in Suti-II Block sought to and was successful in boosting performance of the system against all set child-focused indicators, it also promoted quality like establishing an enabling environment through the CFC approach. On the qualitative side, frontline service providers like ANM, ASHA and Anwesha counsellors were more aware of the CFC approaches and constantly motivated and involved in reaching out services to the marginal and the most vulnerable populace.  Similarly, constant awareness and meetings with the service providers ensured strengthening of the preventive components of their programmes. One of the major achievements of the project was an overwhelming awareness and admission of children’s involvement in the decision-making process and an acceptance by the PRI of the children’s plan as a powerful instrument for systemic prevention. The children’s plan, including the budget and the timeline for implementation, provided a single, focal and a rallying point for the child friendly groups like VLCPC, Kanyasree Clubs, Balika Badhu groups and the PRI and the stakeholders from the community to come together in the convergent meetings and address multi-sectoral issues from a convergent perspective to ultimately deliver a holistic response for children. The achievements from the project have also been encapsulated by both the print and the audiovisual media. The reporting by the media has helped in sharing the evidence from the project with the larger audience and also with the policy managers.

An adolescent girl using drop box to share her concern.

Collaboration

The CINI’s approach of work to create child friendly communities is through a strong collaboration with communities at large and more specifically with families, local women self-help groups and children’s groups along with local self-government like panchayat and service providers across all child rights areas like health workers, Anganwadi workers, schools etc. Apart from this, CINI works in collaboration with the government departments at district-level and also with other local players.

Monitoring

Community driven monitoring systems have been established to allow the community, especially the women’s groups and children groups, to analyse gaps and identify solutions in accessing services, together with service providers and local government representatives. This initial success in Murshidabad has created the opportunities for the organisation to derive a scientific model to further re-strengthen the programme as a preventive model and distil the learning in a resource to replicate and build new capacities. Apart from that CINI has a quality assurance cell called CINI Resource Centre which provides handholding and monitoring support to the district team on a regular basis. Again, the district unit head and programme management team has regularly given onsite support and review and monitoring support to the community-level facilitators.

Kanyashree Joddha group members showing their ID cards provided by the Panchayat.

Replicability and Scalability

The programme paved the way to consolidate the model on the basis of evidence generated and to make it replicable in other settings. The field insights/good practices shaped so far and compiled through various documents will help in this process. Some of its innovation like creation of “Balika Badhu” to advocate on the issue of Child Marriage has been adopted by block administration and it has been decided to scale up in other panchayats of the district. Another good practice of promoting “Kanyashree Joddhas” or girl champions has become an integral part of development activities at the block level. These same girls are also part of Schemes for Adolescent Girls programme implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The children group leaders have become peer leaders of the government flagship programme called Rastriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK). The peer leaders are also members of Village Level Child Protection Committee which is operating at scale in the entire district. So, overall, the project was designed on the principle of potential for scalability and replicability as this project has worked with the existing government structures, platforms and opportunities without duplicating any initiative and service. This model of CINI’s work is a low-cost model which has the potential to go into scale as it believes in facilitation of the existing government services and schemes by utilising government resources.

“Whenever we hear any news of minor girl getting married, we immediately take action. First, we request the parents, if they don’t agree, then we take the help of police and others.” – Raksana Khatoon, Kanayshree Joddha

A Village level Child Protection Committees meeting in progress.

“When we started our journey, we used to provide services to the community at their doorstep. After decades of work in the community as service providers, we realised that bringing sustainable change in behaviour and practice needs more effort than what we were doing. This thinking led us to take a paradigm shift in our approach and we became facilitators. Our role as facilitators started helping to bridge the gap in knowledge, skill and access to services. Local duty-bearers, women and children became the partners in change. We also realised that looking at issues of children or adolescents in silo was not the solution rather the bottleneck! All our realisation and learning have been distilled as what we call “The CINI Method”- a human rights framework of working with and for the children. Our strategies took shift from prevailing fragmented, vertical and curative to participatory, convergent and preventive strategies embedded in human rights-based approach (HRBA) to development planning for and with children. We believe that successful champions for sustainable development are the community advancing the sustainable development goals”

-Dr Samir Chaudhuri
Secretary and Founder
Child in Need Institute (CINI)

 

(Child in Need Institute (CINI) is an Indian non-government organisation (NGO) that has adopted a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to programming with children and adolescents to foster their human and social development. We work across the spectrum of children’s rights aiming at achieving survival, development, protection and participation by all children, with a special focus on the most vulnerable. In addition to our critical focus on communities, we also strive to strengthen systems for children by partnering with the government, its elected, administrative, service provision and judicial arms, in addition to national and international NGOs and technical agencies to promote rights-based development for and with children in the realms of capacity development; technical assistance; evidence building; and networking, advocacy and policy influencing. CINI’s vision is to create “A friendly and responsive community where children and adolescents achieve their full potential”, and mission is “To ensure that children and adolescents achieve their rights to health, nutrition, education, protection and participation by making duty-bearers and communities responsive to their well-being”.)

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