USAID|ASSIST Participates in Tanzania's National Most Vulnerable Children Conference

The USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project participated at the first National Most Vulnerable Children (MVC) Conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on February 18 - 20, 2015. The conference was organized by the Department of Social Welfare of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), in collaboration with UNICEF and other MVC implementing partners.

More than 350 participants gathered to share best practices on care, support, and protection to vulnerable children. They also identified the gaps and challenges that still exist and examined the contribution made by the National Costed Plan of Action I and II in addressing those gaps.

The theme for the conference was "Committed for Action to Keep Children Safe". Topics discussed include strengthening the capacity of households and communities to care for and support vulnerable children, increasing access to and use of services to prevent and respond to cases of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation, improving access to and utilization of primary health care and education, and strengthening the coordination of leadership, policy, and service delivery environment.

In his opening remarks, Vice President H.E. Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal said that the presence of HIV/AIDS, poverty, social conflicts, and various forms of violence contribute to the increased number of children living in difficult conditions. According to Dr. Bilal, 897,913 children are exposed to various forms of violence. Moreover, three out of ten girls have been sexually abused before the age of 18. "Most of the children in Tanzania are exposed to different forms of violence at early ages. Some of the children don't have access to quality education, balanced diet, and good parental care," he said.

Minister for Health and Social Welfare Dr. Seif S. Rashid stated that the government has started to employ new social welfare officers who will be posted to various municipal and local government authorities. He added that the government has conducted capacity building trainings for social welfare officers from different districts on how to rescue children from difficult conditions.

Guidelines for improving the lives of MVCs were launched during the conference. The documents included the "National Guidelines for Psychosocial Care and Support Services to Most Vulnerable Children and Youth in Tanzania," the "National Most Vulnerable Children Monitoring and Evaluation Plan," and the "National Guideline for Household Economic Strengthening."

USAID|ASSIST presented on "Enhancing access of services for Most Vulnerable Children, through improvement approaches in community settings:  A case of Bagamoyo District- Tanzania."  The presentation highlighted the application of improvement principles in building the capacity of existing structures and using available resources in supporting vulnerable children.

A pupil (right) responding to a question during a dialogue with school children at Kiparang'anda Primary School. Photo: Delphina Ntangeki, URC.

The National MVC Conference was preceded by Child Protection Week on February 9 - 14, 2015. During Child Protection Week, USAID|ASSIST supported Mkuranga District to implement activities related to strengthening child protection systems to provide quality services to vulnerable children and prevent and respond to abuse, violence, neglect, and exploitation. Activities included supporting child protection district team members to improve child protection activities at the district and community levels.

USAID|ASSIST also participated in meetings at primary schools and communities at Mkuranga and Kiparang'anda Wards. During these meetings, pupils offered their views on child violence, abuse, and exploitation, types of child abuse, and available systems for addressing child abuse cases, and proposed ways to stop all types of child abuse in their community.

Vice President H.E. Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal addressing participants during the National MVC Conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo: Delphina Ntangeki, URC
Vice President H.E. Dr. Mohammed Gharib Bilal addressing participants during the National MVC Conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo: Delphina Ntangeki, URC
March 11, 2015
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