Child protection remains a problem in Zambia because of inadequate legal protection and societal acceptance of these violations of children’s rights. Many children in Zambia live with physical abuse everyday disguised as discipline. Much violence goes unreported. In addition, children are widely engaged in labour and hazardous work, such as stone crushing and mining. Birth registration rates remain low, while prevalence of wasting, underweight, stunting and vitamin deficiency aggravate the situation.
In response to the above issues, the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has been selected among 3 Innovation Challenge winners to accelerate the well-being of children in Zambia.
Project Description and Objective:
The objective of this project was to form Children’s Welfare Hubs (CWH) in Communities through CCZ member churches which will track and respond on the child protection focus areas by providing basic primary care and protection services. These hubs are run by youth leaders (ages 20-35) and overseen by CCZ Program Officers and Church Leaders. Built on grassroots-church-based approach, this innovation also seeks to promote partnerships with other stakeholders, such as other civil society organizations, government ministries and agencies, academic institutions, UN, and media. Five primary services of Welfare Hubs include:
- Birth registration assistance;
- Monitoring the utilization of health and nutrition services;
- Education tutorial assistance;
- Information and Help Desk for child rights and protection;
- Connecting communities to service providers.
Major Results Achieved:
- 4 Children Welfare Hubs (3 in Lusaka district and 1 in Chongwe district) launched and fully operational;
- 5 primary childcare services, namely Birth Registration, Health & Nutrition Monitoring and Recording, Education Monitoring and Tutorial Assistance, Child Rights and Protection, and Connecting Communities to Service Providers, introduced and made available to the target communities;
- 30+ representatives from government, religious and civil society organizations (including Ministry of General Education, Police, Department of Community Development, Ministry of Health, Department of Social Welfare and others) engaged in collaboration on establishment and management of CWHs;
- 20+ youth volunteers and community activists trained and empowered to run CWHs.
Major SDG Acceleration Lever: Using new technology (CWH can provide small mobile services to the communities) and encouraging good governance (promoting Church-Government partnership)
Lessons Learned and Way Forward:
The innovation of this project embraces two main aspects: 1) fostering birth registration in the rural communities; 2) engaging Church as a partner for the Zambian Government to achieve the SDGs. Sustainability of the Children Welfare Hubs is ensured through their localization: they are run in local communities by local people and addressing local needs. The project has been welcomed by the Zambian Government, and the Church’s wide presence in the remote areas could help reaching those left behind. Further steps include focusing on nutrition and making birth registration possible without leaving the community.
Media Coverage and Knowledge Products:
- Welfare Hubs to Support Children’s Rights in Zambia, Interview by Adrian Mendoza, Global Mission Fellow, CCZ (Nov 2017)
- Children Welfare Hubs Officially launched in Zambia, a blogpost by CCZ (Jan 2018)
Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) is an ecumenical umbrella organization of Christian churches that in its fundamental values and conviction, has a vision of promoting social justice, peace, and community development. In particular, CCZ seeks to assess and find ways to improve or provide child protection system with particular focus on:
Simplified and decentralized birth registration process;
Monitoring of education and nutrition status of children;
Fostering family bondage and child rights;
Enhancing linkages between social welfare service providers and youth at community level.
For more information, please check http://www.ccz.org.zm/
Photo credit: UNICEF Zambia