By Gift Briton

Over the last decade, Kenya has made a major milestone towards ending all forms of violence against children (VAC).

A survey investigating the prevalence of VAC across the country in 2019 found approximately 24% reduction in most forms of child abuse up from 80% prevalence in 2010, except for sexual harassment among adolescent girls.

Several factors including, sustained coordinated and collaborative efforts, increased findings, and political goodwill, collectively contributed to the general decline in VAC cases across the country, if the recent joint report by LVCT Health and Directorate of Children Services in Kenya is anything to go by.

Titled: “Kenya’s Journey Towards Protecting Children – A Decade of Change (2010-2019)”, the report study provides detailed strategies and interventions that led to a significant decline in VAC in Kenya and lays the ground for the upcoming International Conference on Child Protection (ICCP2023).

Several speakers during the report launch in Nairobi called on the government to coordinate efforts and work with partners to address challenges facing children in our country.

Joseph Motari, Principal Secretary, the State Department for Social Protection

Representing the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection- Florence Bore- during the report launch, Joseph Motari, Principal Secretary, the State Department for Social Protection reaffirmed the government’s commitment to continue investing in context-fit and futuristic strategies to end all forms of child abuse.

“Our investments and defined evidence and data have continued to empower policymakers and stakeholders to make sound decisions, informing targeted interventions to protect children, and create safer environments,” he said.

Motari recognized the effectiveness of inter-sectoral coordination and collaboration among government ministries, departments, agencies, development partners, the private sector, and the community in the development and implementation of plans and programmes toward ending child abuse.

“Working together has built stronger partnerships, streamlined coordination and leveraged resources. Our commitment to raising awareness and advocating for child rights has sparked a cultural shift,” he added.

Dr. Lina Digelo, Principal Investigator of the study

Dr. Lina Digelo, Principal Investigator of the study noted: “Government leadership, effective governance, and stakeholder participation played pivotal roles in child protection. There’s a need to build on this foundation for lasting change.”

She advocated for increased meaningful participation of children in VAC programmes and urged policymakers to ensure that policies and practices for ending child abuse are reflective of what the children want.

“We also have to think what are the unique things that are affecting our adolescent girls and how we program for them uniquely. We need to think of a life cycle approach to determine their programming. We also need to continue enhancing our data collection system,” she noted.

Dr. Lilian Otiso, Executive Director, LVCT Health said: “We have done several works on violence against children and we provide evidence to justify and inform different programs towards ending violence against children. We urge the government to continue investing, strengthening systems, and capacity building to ensure that all forms of violence against children are eliminated.”

“We have so much to learn from 2010-2019. Let’s continue to beef up our efforts in allocating more domestic resources. As much as we have seen the reduction 56% prevalence is still too many. We urge the government to allocate more domestic resources, increase the number of children officers institutionalize the Child Act 2022, and work more with communities to address the issue,” Yoko Kobayashi, Child Protection Specialist at the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), said.