Training Community Child Protection Committees in The Gambia

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By Ya Sainey Gaye, ChildFund The Gambia
Posted on 1/12/2017
Children hold signs displaying their many rights.

Children hold signs displaying their many rights.

Where ChildFund’s commitment to child protection and communities’ commitments to their children intersect, community child protection committees are formed. In The Gambia, where such committees are already established, we are working to broaden the scope of this work and further train committee members to ensure that children are protected on every front – at home, in the community and on the national level.

ChildFund and local partner organization Eastern Foni Federation established a new community child protection committee (CCPC) in February 2016. This group complements a pre-existing committee in nearby Kampassa. The communities that both of these CCPCs serve are near The Gambia’s border, and are home to many refugees from neighboring countries Senegal, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Children in this area are severely at risk for trafficking and cross-border violence.

Members of the Eastern Foni community child protection committee.

Members of the Eastern Foni community child protection committee.

The 17 members — including community leaders, members of school management committees, police officers, immigration staff, female leaders, district chiefs and children themselves — of the new CCPC attended trainings on various aspects of child protection. Members learned about international conventions on the rights of women and children, The Gambia’s Children Act of 2005 and children’s legal rights. They also increased their understanding and awareness of the definitions of child abuse, neglect and exploitation, and factors that can make children more vulnerable. During the training, the committee also discussed their role in the community, not only in taking on child protection cases, but in navigating and addressing some of the deeply rooted traditional norms and values that can be intrinsically harmful.

Since the training sessions, the CCPC has detected and managed three child protection cases, which began at the community level and were moved through the proper legal channels until they were settled and the children were safe.

Going forward, the committees in Kampassa and Eastern Foni will both have refresher training sessions, so that every member remains alert, aware and educated about child protection issues and how to address them, keeping the community strong and — most importantly — keeping children safe from harm.