Dr. Wilfred Mamah of UNICEF’s Child Protection Services said this in Kaduna on Wednesday, at the official launch of the Children in Street Situation cash disbursement to 2,674 children in Almajiri.
Mamah added that the partnership would also ensure that all vulnerable children are protected from all forms of abuse, violence and neglect.
He explained that the Children in Street Situation Program was under the Grant of the National Committee of the United Kingdom.
He noted that COVID-19 has brought to the fore the heightened vulnerability of street children, especially Almajiri children who lack parental support and care.
He said the Almajiri system’s long history of informal guardianship arrangements exposes children to violence, abuse and neglect, hindering their rights to life, survival and development.
According to him, the response of the State that saved the lives of these children in the midst of covid-19 will continue to be the point of reference for the human reunification of almajiros and street children with their families.
“UNICEF’s alliance with the state through the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development (MHSSD), registered the highest number of successful reunifications of 10,817 Almajiri children, the highest in the country.
“This life-saving reunification of children was captured using the innovative Child Protection Information Management (CPIMS) tool.”
He explained that the Street Children and Adolescent Girls programs are being implemented in the state after the success of the reunification program.
The child protection specialist said that so far, a total of 209,950 street children, including adolescents, have been captured in the CPIMS, based on their vulnerability.
He said that the figure is made up of 105,726 almajiro children outside family care and 104,224 adolescent girls out of school.
According to him, the situation of the children of Almajiri and the scenario that characterizes it continue to be one of the critical drivers of the deschooling of children in the state.
“It is to reverse this trend that UNICEF is collaborating with the MHSSD and other stakeholders to provide critical services to the reunited Almajiri children and facilitate their full integration with their communities.
“So far, we have been able to provide key services to the 2,674 Almajiri children who were left at home after the reunifications.”
He identified the services as the creation of bank accounts for children for a monthly cash transfer of N5,000, and the registration and issuance of the National Identification Number.
The other services, he said, include the acquisition of legal identification and birth registration, enrollment in school, and the provision of school uniforms and teaching materials.
“We hope that these initial services will be a springboard for more targeted assistance to these children, including adolescent girls, that will enhance human capital development in the state,” he said.
Mamah appealed to Governor Nasir El-Rufai to consider urgently releasing a matching grant for the program as promised at the start of the project.
According to him, this will allow the state government to expand the intervention to fully integrate all children into communities to make the most of their potential.
Earlier, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, thanked UNICEF, other development partners and stakeholders for supporting the initiative.
Balarabe, who was represented by Kanyi, El-Rufai’s deputy chief of staff, said that each of the 2,674 Almajiri would receive N5,000 per month as a cash transfer.
He added that there was already a plan to increase the amount to N10,000 in the following months, with a view to ensuring that children are enrolled and stay in school.
“Under the program, the National Population Commission is providing children with birth certificates; Kaduna SUBEB is providing reading materials, while Keystone Bank opened accounts for beneficiaries.
“Kaduna State Residents Identity Management Agency is registering and enrolling children with National Identification Number (NIN) while UNICEF is providing the funds for cash disbursement,” he said.
Source Credit: NAN