Sunday, June 12, 2011

Banjul: Protecting ‘vulnerable children on the move’

Pix by - raising funds to support vulnerable children
More news…
  1. Banjulinding women gardeners want more boreholes
  2. Gambia: High level meeting on ‘vulnerable children on the move’ 
  3.   Achieving quality reproductive health, a key priority in Gambia

Banjulinding women gardeners want more boreholes
Banjulinding women gardeners who spoke to The Voice said they are faced with difficulties in accessing enough water in order to step up their crop growing activities.
And for this reason, they are appealing to the government and the President in particular, to help construct more boreholes in their garden.
Kaddy S. Darboe, the president of the Banjulinding Women Gardeners’ Association said they are facing water shortages. “The garden is too big for three boreholes to serve our activities and the crops. We need more than 8 boreholes in garden,” she said.
She said it was through the intervention of the Vice President Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy that they were provided with three boreholes. However, she lamented that this falls short of the high water demand during the dry season and to a large extent it affects their production.
In July 2010, Darboe told this paper that the lack of a perimeter fence was among their biggest challenges as the poorly fortified fence has left their crops and vegetables prone to animal activities.
Yesterday, she reiterated that the situation remains the same. “People leave their animals to come our garden and to destroy our crops and our efforts to stop this destruction has been proving very difficult for us,” she laments.
To the community, she charged that they should do better to help the women achieve their objectives by controlling their cattle and other ruminants.
The fence of the garden is made up of woods and barbed wire, however, Mrs Darboe said villagers have already resorted to using it as firewood to satisfy their domestic needs.
The gardeners consist of more than 150 women and a few men whom she said do help in solving some of their problems, with the Republic of China on Taiwan contributing to the supply of seeds to the gardeners.
According to her, it is due to their hard work and dedication that the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) help in expanding the area of the garden, and Mrs Darboe noted this has afforded them the opportunity to grow not only vegetables but corn and groundnut as well.
“But keeping the animals away is always a problem,” she reiterated.
She explained that over the past 12 years, they have been able to fend for themselves and take care of their families through the produce.
“We feed our families and pay our children’s school fees from the proceeds we get from the garden,” she said.

Achieving quality reproductive health, a key priority in Gambia
Achieving quality reproductive health care system is a key drive towards meeting effective and efficient health care services delivery system in the country, according to Gambia’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare.
Speaking in Banjul during the Validation of the Draft Reproductive Health Commodity Security Strategic Plan 2011-2015, Mrs. Fatim Badjie said reproductive and child health is a top priority of the Government of The Gambia. This, she adds, is for various reasons, including women and children constituting a significant proportion of the country’s population.
The draft is expected to serve as a comprehensive document meant to be the blue print for the attainment of quality Reproductive Health Care services in The Gambia.
“Reproductive and child health indicators are often the parameters used to measure a country’s socio-economic status; improving the health of women and children most often may lead to general improvement in the health of individuals, families and communities,” she said on Wednesday.
According to her, maternal and child health services are provided at both base and at outreach stations for improved access and coverage. These strategies have made the country impacting positively on the lives of women and children in The Gambia.
The country’s maternal mortality ratio is still high, though it has been cut down from 1050 (1990) to 1730 per 100, 000 live births in 2001.
Immunization coverage is second to none in the sub-region, and the under-five mortality rate is the third lowest in the ECOWAS member countries.
To improve the quality of care, she said Gambia need a reproductive health commodity security to enhance availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality care, which she adds is critical to averting deaths and disabilities resulting from reproductive ill-health.
The Gambia is a signatory to the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) programme of action, and thus, Mrs. Badjie said she is committed towards achieving the programme of action goals and targets.

Gambia: High level meeting on ‘vulnerable children on the move’
The International Social Service (ISS) in cooperation with Gambia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on 8 June 2011 held a “high level meeting on children on the move” in Banjul, The Gambia.
The meeting is aimed at seeking out ways for improved protection of children by creating a child friendly environment. 
According to the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Fatim Badjie, this requires the building and strengthening of a protective environment where laws are enacted and implemented.
She said that a child’s first line of defence and protection lies with his or her family, and communities are also powerful sources of support for children who have been through some of the most negative life experiences.
Nonetheless, she said governments and other duty bearers need to be committed to children; empower them with knowledge and life skills to children’s rights and media reports encourage healthy debates on issues affecting children.
She said their participation in advocacy and protection work is of utmost importance in creating an enabling environment for children to grow and develop their potentials.
“The Government of The Gambia, mindful of its obligation to children, is politically committed to stamping out the phenomenon of child abuse and exploitation and has made major strides in this direction,” she said.
“The enactment of the Children’s Act 2005 is a clear manifestation of the continued political will of the leadership of this country.”
She said the basic principles of the rights of the child is that society has an obligation to satisfy the fundamental needs of children and to provide assistance for the development of the children’s rights, personality talents and abilities.
Earlier on, the Director of Social Welfare Fanta Bai Secka said the forum represents efforts to articulate their responsibilities towards the most vulnerable members of society, the children.
“It is an opportunity to underline the depth and complexity of the challenges that the street poses for children, and our chance to set the agenda to response to those challenges,” she outlined.
“The task of ensuring a better future for vulnerable children, especially those on the move and of the streets in The Gambia, is quite a profound one, particularly if we take into account the devastating risk that the children are expose to whiles on the move without parental care.”
She said the challenges are huge and it requires an effective partnership capable of building a united front to confront the problem. Investing in the protection of children is of a national interest as it is cheaper in terms of survival and development of human potential at both individual and social levels.
On her part, Child Representative, President Voice of the Young Haddy Jonga said the context of children on the move refers to streets children, trafficked children, and displaced children irrespective of whether their plight is caused by natural or man made disasters.
“These children who happen to fall victims of such mishaps, are still under the umbrella of childhood and therefore need to be helped out of their situations, their rights fulfilled, their protection ensured, and their well-being and up-bringing budgeted for,” she demanded.
“The Child Protection Alliance, the police, the Department of State for Social Welfare and The Gambia Government in its entirety, have been working tirelessly to ensure that the welfare and proper channeling of growth and development of every child in The Gambia is attained.”
She stressed that children shall have the right to a name from birth, the right to acquire a nationality, and subject to legislation enacted in the best interest of children, to know and be cared for by their parents. Those under 16 years are entitled to be protected from economic exploitation, and shall not be employed in or required to perform work that is likely to be hazardous, or to interfere with their education, or to be harmful to their health, or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
She challenges these institutions to bring back vulnerable children on the move to proper homes, where they would be loved and cared for. This, she said is because they will not just end up benefiting an individual, but their communities and nations as a whole. 


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