IOM Ghana, with support from UNICEF, has launched a project to increase child protection and combat child trafficking in eight districts of the Volta Region.
Through the Community Child Rights Education project, IOM will work with district social welfare and community development staff to train community leaders in 40 communities on the FREE TO BE ME community education toolkit.
It is estimated the project will reach at least 4 000 individuals and their families. This initiative will be carried out in close collaboration with the Department of Community Development and the Department of Social Welfare.
The FREE TO BE ME toolkit was previously developed and piloted by IOM in partnership with UNICEF in six communities in three districts in the Volta Region. It is designed to bolster national and local trafficking prevention efforts and create a community-driven approach to child protection. It is grounded in community education and behaviour change.
The objective is to empower communities to initiate and take ownership of changing their social practices that are harmful to children, by initiating accessible but effective human and child rights discussions at the community level. This is done by using a variety of interactive activities and in local languages.
The project directly involves district officials, school personnel, community chiefs, women’s groups, mothers, fathers and children in a participatory way. Topics covered include responsible and advanced parenting, a good start to life and the importance of child’s play, children’s rights, birth registration and child trafficking. There are also topics that are specifically designed to be delivered to children during special sessions.
“All parents want the best for their children. By creating a safe space for community members to discuss the negative impact of some accepted parental behaviours, including child trafficking, on their children, we enable them to review their current practices. This way, they can collectively abandon what is harmful to the children and celebrate the positive and nurturing traditional values. This is really a powerful and sustainable approach to prevention,” said IOM Ghana Chief of Mission Sylvia Lopez-Ekra.
During the pilot phase, according to pre- and post-training test results, the proportion of adults demonstrating understanding of children’s rights rose from 13 percent to 50 percent thanks to the community discussions.