Malawi’s four major child-focused international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) yesterday launched a historic alliance aimed at coordinating their programmes on enhancing children’s rights during Covid-19.
Plan International Malawi, Save the Children Malawi, SOS Children’s Village Malawi and World Vision Malawi launched the Joining Forces Malawi Alliance virtually in Lilongwe.
In her speech at the launch, Save the Children country director Kim Koch said the alliance wants to enhance Malawian children’s rights to health, food, protection, education and to being heard and to participate.
“Our partnership is driven by one vision—to have an unprecedented impact on the well-being of children. We want to hold governments accountable for fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda by 2030 and ensuring children’s rights,” she said.
Excitement levels during the high-flown event, which saw government officials and the executives from the four NGOs making addresses, reached a new peak when a young girl, Victoria Ganamba, took the floor.
The Form Two student from Mwanza and Speaker of the Children’s Parliament, said the alliance will achieve its goals if its programmes will be based on constant consultation with them.
She observed that the e-learning that the government promoted during the five-month long school closure due to Covid-19 has not benefitted everyone, as children in poor families cannot afford the expensive equipment needed.
Said Ganamba: “So, withdrawing them from school and making them stay at home has not helped at all because most children did not access lessons.”
She said in some poor families, some parents turned their children into full-time business persons, even if the errands threatened to expose them to the disease.
Ganamba asked stakeholders to start reversing the challenges children are facing, particularly during the pandemic.
Noting that the poster for Joining Forces Alliance is colourful, with all key players well displayed, and that the partnership values the children’s voices, Ganamba concluded with aplomb.
“I strongly hope and believe that as the Joining Forces is formally being launched today, children of Malawi will be (better) protected and our rights given the utmost realisation and respect that they deserve, than just decorating the theme with colours. Match it with action,” she stated.
Joining Forces Alliance chairperson Stanley Phiri said the new partnership will enhance planning and funding common child-focused projects, including promoting child rights, quality and more accessible education, health and protection against violence and abuse.
He said: “We will strive to make the government more accountable in the delivery of services aimed at providing better lives for children. We will also improve how the Children’s Parliament will run, as a way of ensuring that the children’s decisions and desires become part of the development agenda.”
Earlier, guest of honour and Principal Secretary for Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Roselyn Makhumula welcomed the alliance and pledged government’s support to it.