Swaziland is a landlocked country almost surrounded by the Republic of South Africa in the East and Mozambique in the south. It’s a country of about 1.37 million people of which 57% are children according to recent statics. Children face numerous challenges and they continue to lack voice.
2. State of Children
In a country classified as middle income, approximately two-thirds of the population – 63% (SHIES 2012) live in extreme poverty. The country has for many years experiences serious spells of droughts which have exacerbated the food crisis and this has affected children’s nutrition as the poor population depended on government and partners such as World Food Program (WFP) and other NGOs for food.
The general economic slowdown which has worsened in recent years — estimated at 0.8% in 2013 and the significant increase in unemployment these factors have made numerous households – already unable to feed their own children – turn away orphans or other needy children who would, in other times, be welcomed in the “extended family traditional system”.
Even though some schools can offer daily, adequate lunches to children thanks to external financial aid, there are still many children who remain starving in the country.
HIV / AIDS
Despite its efforts, Swaziland is one of the countries most affected by the HIV / AIDS epidemic: one person in five is infected. This phenomenon has negative repercussions on the children’s situation. Firstly, by causing the death of their parents (about 10% have lost at least one parent to HIV / AIDS) but also by inducing their own illnesses which often leads to serious complications – something that is not easy to manage. The treatment rollout seems to have stabilised the situation as PMCTC has proved effective in halting mother to child infections.
The health, hygienic, and water supply systems are in poor condition and have led to an outbreak of illnesses such as diarrhoea sicknesses that still kill many children. Many schools do not have running water and must count on deliveries from the government to fill their reservoirs during the dry season. However this doesn’t always happen in zones that are further away.
The number of orphans has reached record highs in Swaziland especially owing to the numerous parental deaths caused by AIDS and the departure of the remaining parent to search for work or money. As a result, a child is the head of the family in 10-15% of Swazi families today. When possible the grandparents take in the children. There are also “Kagogo” centres – traditionally “grandmother’s houses” – that have become social service centres for vulnerable children.
The rolling out of the state funded education at Primary school level and the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Grant that was set up by the government to provide aid to orphaned and vulnerable children has really improved enrolment of children at primary level. However, children with disability are not fully benefiting as schools and teachers and school infrastructure is not geared to assist children living with disability. With the Disability department placed at Deputy Prime Ministries Office and efforts to strengthen the Social Welfare department, there is hope that children with disabilities might get better support to be integrated in schools.
Gender Based Violence (GBV)
Gender based violence is endemic in the country. This is due to a patrician society where male dominance is systematised and girl children then become victims of gender based violence.
Girls are often the minor heads of the family; and they are vulnerable to various forms of violence. One in three Swazi women are victims of sexual exploitation during their childhood and one in four experience physical violence. Many are equally mistreated emotionally by the other women in their family, who have been mistreated themselves.
These acts of violence often occur in the homes located in rural areas and the aggressors are usually fathers or other close family members.
The Children Act of 2012 provides the legal framework through which sexual exploitation of children and related vices will be addressed.
The age of criminal responsibility in Swaziland is 7 years old. This is very young according to international standards.
Measures have been taken to improve the system — such as the creation of local committees — and still less than half of the incidences of sexual abuse and other mistreatments are reported to the authorities. In fact, children only ask for help in cases where violence reaches a level of drastic severity.
The cost of attorney services and the lack of effective legal assistance to collect, monitor and prepare a case does not allow for convenient access to the law. Similarly, there are no readjustment or reinsertion programs for minor delinquents.
Thus, the absence of a detention system for minor’s forces detained children to share cells with adult criminals.
Interest of the child and right to participation
The child’s opinion is rarely taken into account in the sphere of legal or administrative procedures and although children often help at community gatherings, traditional attitudes discourage them from freely expressing themselves.
Registering births in Swaziland is not easy. The service costs money and is rarely accessible in the countryside. Consequently, few children are registered at birth and those who are not registered do not feel prompted to complete this step when they are older
In addition, the people working for or with children have not completed suitable training, particularly in rural zones.
3. Background of Children’s Consortium
Swaziland, a small country in southern Africa, has a population of just over 1 million people. Recent statistics show that about 57 percent of the population are children.
Figures also reveal that there are about 200,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) in the country. The Times of Swaziland, the nation’s largest daily newspaper, says this means that 200,000 children have ‘no way to cope with family disasters such as sick relatives’, which forces many young people out of school.
In response to the challenges faced by children in the Swaziland, CANGO — with support from UNICEF – organised a workshop in 2008. Twenty-nine (29) NGOs that work with children were brought together to begin co-ordinating a better response. The NGO directors thought it was time to set up a Children’s Consortium.
The Consortium advocates for children’s rights as enshrined in the Swaziland’s Constitution. Section 29 of the Constitution protects the rights of the child.
The Consortium also advocates for the recognition and enforcement of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Moreover, the Consortium works to:
- reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on children
- assist children to access care, support, basic services and support
- advocate for enabling legislation to protect children against neglect and gender based violence
- provide a platform for NGOs to share information, experiences, best practice, and minimise duplication.
The Children’s Consortium is led by the elected Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson.
3.1 SWOT Analysis
3.2 Environmental Analysis
3.2.1 Political Analysis
- Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution of Swaziland
- The necessary legislative framework is there
- Budget allocation for Children is not prioritised in the National budget
- Free Primary Education Legislation
- OVC grants
- There are Social Protection Measures
- Swaziland is Piloting Cash Transfers
3.2.2 Social Analysis
- Society views children as passive recipients
- Social practises which are harmful to children
- HIV and AIDS that has left large numbers of OVCs
- High levels of poverty
- Lack of access to proper educational facilities for Children living with disabilities
- 55% of the population of Swaziland is composed of mainly of the youth and Children
- Skewed income distribution
- Sluggish economy
- Large numbers of young people are unemployed
- Budget allocation not in favour of children
- Proper Legislation
- International Instruments
- Judiciary system is not responsive
- International instruments not properly domesticated
4.0 Vision, Mission & Objectives
The Children adopted the following as its new Mission, Vision and Objectives:
A Swaziland where Children & Children living with disabilities rights are protected promoted and upheld.
A network of NGOs that advocates, lobbies for policies, legislations and implementation of strategies that protect and promote the rights of all children in Swaziland.
- Mutual respect
- Gender equality and equity
- Children’s voice
- Children’s Rights
4.4 The Strategic Objectives of the Children’s Consortium were adopted as follows
- Building the capacity of the Consortium to have a common understanding of Children’s rights
- To facilitate joint fundraising in order to raise resources and support the Consortiums programmes
- To advocate for Children’s access to justice, health, social services and education
- To advocate for a Pro-child friendly national budget
- Create awareness amongst duty bearers to implement programmes that will foster realisation of Children’s rights
- Monitor compliance of the national, regional and International Instruments
5. Strategic Priorities
- Institutional strengthening
- Access to services
- Child friendly budget
- Right based planning
- Monitoring compliance with international instruments
- Voice of Children
- Monitor and Evaluation
6. Strategic Focal Area and Objectives
|Strategic Focal Area||Strategic Objectives|
|Institutional Strengthening||6.1 Building the capacity of the Consortium to have a common understanding of Children’s rights.|
|Access to services||6.2 To advocate for Children’s access to justice, health, social services and education.|
|Child friendly budget||6.3 To advocate for a Pro-child friendly national budget.|
|Right based approach to planning||6.3 Create awareness amongst duty bearers to implement programmes that will foster realisation of Children’s rights.|
|Compliance with national and regional instruments||6.5 Monitor compliance of the national, regional and International Instruments.|
|Resources mobilisation||6.6 To facilitate joint fundraising in order to raise resources and support the Consortiums programmes.|
|Children’s Voice||6.7 To promote space for children’s voices to be heard|
1. Strategic Action Plan & Implementation
1.1 Action planning
It is envisaged that the Secretariat will update its annual operational plans in order to ensure alignment with the reviewed strategic plan. All departments will revise their annual plans, breaking them down to quarterly and monthly implementation plans.
1.2 Resource requirements
The strategic plan will require different resources such as special skills, funds and collaboration at different levels. It is assumed that CANGO will be able to raise these early enough not to slow down the implementation of the strategic plan. Constantly upgrading skills at all levels become critical (including leadership capacity). It is further assumed that CANGO will be able to raise sufficient resources to implement the strategic plan.
Some of the key strategies that CANGO will employ to raise funding for the strategy include:
a) Engaging donors in and out of the country. Consultative meetings in Pretoria and Maputo to engage embassies that have a focus on Swaziland will be critical;
b) CANGO will prepare proposal based on call for proposals based on donor indications for available funding for certain activities already outlined in the strategic document; and
c) The institution will build capacity through its members to also provide consultancy services which will generate additional income as well.
An implementation schedule has been prepared for this strategic plan that has clear action steps to be taken in order to achieve the strategic objectives formulated here. This schedule will be online shortly.
1.4 Strategic plan M&E framework
The delivery success of the strategic plan is largely dependent on the organization’s ability to monitor and evaluate strategic performance and exercise control. The organization will continue to rely on tried and tested monitoring and evaluation initiatives to ensure proper and profitable implementation. Sections 5.5 and 5.6 below present the performance monitoring and performance evaluation framework of the plan.
1.5 Strategic performance monitoring & control
Secretariat reporting will be aligned to the outputs of the strategic plan so that all activities performed immediately translate to performance of strategic plan activities. To this end, the secretariat will be meeting monthly to review internal performance reports. Such reports will include reporting of all functions/departments within the organisation and how well specific targets have been met, taking corrective actions from time to time as dictated by circumstance. This presupposes that the secretariat will translate the strategic objectives and action steps into monthly programmes of action.
The Governing Board will be meeting on a quarterly and annual basis to consider strategic performance reports and thereby take necessary corrective actions.
1.6 Strategic performance evaluation
On an annual basis, the Governing Board, together with Secretariat, will, within the context of annual strategic plan review sessions, measure the organization’s performance at objective level as opposed to activity level. The interest of the Governing Board is in finding out how well the objectives have been met as opposed to how well the activities have been carried out. A plan to close identified gaps will be developed and pursued each year.
During the Annual General Meeting, the CANGO Chairperson representing the Board and the Executive Director will present their reports which will outline implementation of Strategy which will assist members to make input into this process.