Is there demonstrable progress in delivering child protection services in Arusha?

The seeds of progress have been sown

CCR is seen as an investor. One of the unintended consequences of NGOs involvement in the children’s sector has been that the Government has not had to bear the cost of providing child protection services, and has actually seen efforts to support vulnerable children as the business of NGOs. The effect has been that convening public servants and elected officials has been undermined by their demand for payment and Daily Subsistence Allowances as the NGO is asking them to do “extra work”. CCR has grappled with this over the years, adopting a strong position that we will not pay government officials to do this work. Recently, CCR changed its registration status moving from an NGO to a not-for-profit business. This has enabled us to completely change the old dynamic. CCR has identified ourselves as a social investor into the city, and a MOU has been formulated that articles both our and the city’s responsibilities. As a result CCR has new  leverage from offering a tangible value added to the city. 

Child Protection is a national priority. One of the outcomes that CCR wanted to see was that child protection becomes a national priority. In 2016, Tanzania became a Pathfinder country under the Global Partnership to End Violence, which is set up to advance Sustainable Development Goal 16.2. The Tanzanian government developed a 5-year costed National Plan of Action (NPA) to address violence against women and children. This is the first time that the country has developed a combined plan for violence against women and children. This new NPA should provide a framework and motivation to achieve momentum in preventing and responding to violence in families, schools and institutions.

However, CCR argues that there are four preconditions that need to be met if Tanzania is to successfully implement the NPA.  

  • Invest in building a social consensus. If we do not make a committed investment in building a social consensus that violence in any context is unacceptable the rest of the plan will be redundant. 
  • It’s all about LGA planning. If the NPA does not inform local government planning and if LGAs are not held to account for investing in child protection services all the good intentions will not be felt by citizens. 
  • Without accountability for performance nothing will change. If the capacity of Government is not ultimately held to account by citizens for delivering child protection services, we will continue with an ad hoc, poorly coordinated NGO response to child protection that has proven not to be fit for purpose. 
  • Effective communication is critical. If a mechanism for communicating upstream and downstream about the progress of delivering the plan is not developed we will be unable to capture learning from innovations that work, unable to see the big picture of changing norms vis-a-vis women and children, and remain stuck in our current state of improvising a response to violence. 

We know what it costs to protect children. At the Arusha city level CCRs costing of the 5 year child protection plan revealed that it would cost a mere $55 to respond to a child who has been a victim of harm if all the envisaged child protection services were in place. The total annual investment in child protection services for Arusha is estimated to be $185,000, or Tsh 4.75 billion over five years. The National Plan of Action would cost Tsh 267 billion to implement over five years. 
CCR has developed and prototyped Councillor Connect. This is a mobile messaging platform that connects citizens to their councillors via SMS, allowing them to communicate their needs for services and evaluate their councillor's performance in delivering these services. This emerged out of a request from the councillors for hard evidence about the need for children’s services. The effects of the platform are multiple

  • Citizens are able to use their voice to make complaints and suggestions and to make demands of their Councillors. 
  • Councillors are able to demonstrate their responsiveness, and to use the information they are getting to understand citizens’ priorities and to plan on evidence of people’s needs. 
  • Better performance of Councillors is incentivized because the Councillors’ scorecards are publicized. 

The start of evidence based planning at a LGA level. One of the real constraints that Councillor Champions for child protection have faced is that whilst they recognize the need for child protection services, they do not have hard data that quantifies this need. One of the rationale’s of the Councillor Connect service is to address this need. However, in isolation Councillor Connect will be insufficient. We have instead linked the service into the Ward Development Committee process for planning. Using the Deliberative Dialogue process this was tested in Mvomero and Ilemela districts, with each developing costed child protection plans. The intent is to now use this approach in 6 target wards in Arusha. 

Councillors and politicians are championing child protection. In Arusha we now have 6 Councillors actively championing child protection by using the Councillor Connect service, adopting the Deliberative Dialogue process to develop costed ward child protection plans, and participating in quarterly reviews of progress. 

But, significant shortfalls remain

Budgets for children’s services are too small and almost nothing actually reaches children. A recent analysis of child rights governance revealed that

  • Only 23% of district child protection plans have been costed. 
  • In Songwe and Shinyanga districts only 2.1% of the total budget for Shinyanga and only 4.5% of the Songwe district budget directly reach children. 

Budgets for child protection are routinely raided by the City and District Directors when a political edict reaches them. For example, $12,500 was allocated to the one-stop centre in the 2015 budget, but this money was siphoned off to pay for the establishment of secondary school laboratories under instruction from central government. The Arusha City government allocated 50 million TSH for the one-stop center in their annual budget for 2013-2014, but again did not use these funds to establish the one-stop centre. 

Social workers are recruited, but not retained. In 2015 the Arusha city drew on its recurrent revenue to hire or redeploy much needed social workers. 14 were in the employ of the city. The recruitment target in the costed city plan is to have three social workers at the city offices and two in the wards. However, a year later these gains had been lost as the social workers left their posts or moved to other districts. The absence of effective management makes the conditions for social workers untenable.