Rumphi District Council says there is need to include children’s voices in programmes that affect them.
The council’s director of planning and development, Frank Mkandawire said this at a children’s conference organised by Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco) in the district on Saturday.
He said there are few initiatives in the country that promote child protection in designing and planning stages.
“As duty bearers, we have been thinking on behalf of the children, even identifying problems on their behalf. We need to let children identify problems and propose possible solutions on their own through such forums. Their voices then need to be included in the district’s development plan for consideration,” he said.
Yoneco child protection officer Ian Sukali said the conference was organised to create a platform for children to raise issues that concern them to duty bearers and demand their rights.
He said the conference was a follow-up to demands raised by the children in previous debates where it was observed that cases of child abuse were on the increase in the district.
“Cases of child sexual abuse, forced early marriages, child labour and poor school infrastructure were observed to be some of the issues on the increase. So, they decided to bring up these to the attention of duty bearers,” he said.
The children were from Mwazisi, Luviri and Bolero zones. Some of the duty bearers at the conference were aspiring members of Parliament, officials from Health, Labour, Education and Security departments.
The conferences are part of the Child Labour Elimination Actions for Real Change (Clear) Project Yoneco is implementing together with Total Land Care, Save the Children and the Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (Creccom).
Clear aims at eliminating child labour in tobacco growing districts of Ntchisi, Mchinji and Rumphi.