The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Bauchi State Government and Fahimta Women and Youth Initiative (FAWOYDI) has commenced a five-day training for 60 youth volunteers on real-time monitoring for the Child Friendly Community Initiative (CFCI) in Toro Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
The CFCI is a UNICEF-led initiative that supports local governments in realising the rights of children at the local level using the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as its foundation.
THISDAY checks revealed that 120 youth volunteers were selected across the 20 communities, where six youths per community are responsible for growth monitoring and promotion exercise, house mapping and many other activities.
Speaking on the aims of the programme, the Programme Specialist, Convergence, UNICEF, Abuja, Bhawna Vajpai, explained that in partnership with state and local governments, CSO- FAWOYDI, communities and support from IHS Nigeria Limited, UNICEF’s CFCI aims to help accelerate tangible and sustained improvements for children with a view to helping Nigeria achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
According to her, “All children have the right to grow up in an environment where they feel safe and secure. They have access to basic services and clean water. They can play, learn and grow, and their voice is heard and matters.
“Building a friendly community, LGA or state is a continuous process. CFCI initially rolled out in 20 communities of Toro Ward in Toro Local Government Area of Bauchi State. But through real-time monitoring and commitment with state governments, the initiative is expected to be replicated across other wards based on demonstrable benefits to children and communities.
“CFCI will be accelerated across Nigeria with the active engagement and support of a diverse range of of stakeholders including government, the private sector, community-based institutions, CSOs, media and others.”
In his remarks at the opening ceremony of the training held at Zaranda Hotel in Bauchi Wednesday, the UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, Tushar Rane, said that the child friendly volunteers programme is aimed at empowering communities to achieve the set objectives of child survival through routine immunization and other health-related issues.
He said that the programme is in alignment with the ‘Generation Next’ project, which is focused on the development of the child from infancy to adulthood, by ensuring that every necessary health activity was duly followed and adhered to.
“UNICEF is spending huge money on the empowerment of various communities where it is present because the aim is to promote healthy living especially for women and children. We commenced the programme in Bauchi State as the state is doing well in the child friendly programme. The experience here is very impressive, it is a good initiative. Other states are copying what is happening here,” he said.
He advised the volunteers to be attentive to the training and ensure that they put all they learnt into practice back home so that the set objectives of the training will be achieved.
In his address, the Bauchi State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Aminu Hammayo, commended UNICEF for its continuous support in different sectors of the development of the state and its people over the years.
He congratulated the volunteers for their commitment at ensuring the improved well-being of the people of the state, saying that the organisers’ foresight in choosing Bauchi as one of the pilot states for the unique intervention was commendable, which according to him, will address different challenges in the community.
“As you are all aware, the Child Friendly Community Initiative is a UNICEF initiative that supports communities in realizing the rights of children at the local level. It is also a network that brings together government and other stakeholders such as civil society organizations, private sector, academia, media and importantly, children themselves who wish to make their communities more child friendly.
“The objective of the project is to empower and strengthen the capacity of local government and rural communities to adopt child centred attitudes, behaviours, practices and improve access to basic services that promote child well-being and development.
“It could not have been more appropriate than at this time when we face a multitude of problems such as malnutrition, out of school children, high rate of infant and child mortality among others.”
In her remarks, the Executive Director of Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiatives, Hajiya Maryam Garba, said that her organization and UNICEF have been involved in the Child Friendly Community Initiative exercise in Toro LGA.
According to her, in order to make Toro LGA child friendly, it engaged stakeholders and 20 communities were selected and sensitized in Toro ward on the CFCI project, while one LGA coordinating body was established with 13 members just as community coordinating bodies with 15 members per community and one community mobilizer across the 20 communities were identified.
According to her, 120 volunteers were selected across the 20 communities who are responsible for the monitoring and promotion exercise, household mapping and many other activities.
She commended UNICEF and the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning for the collaboration with her organization in implementing the project, calling for more collaboration and support.