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Activists want children included in post 2015 development talks

By Joan Akello

As the era of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) comes to a close, a coalition of over 50 civil society groups wants African governments, Uganda inclusive and global actors to ensure that children are given priority.

The organizations include Child Fund, World Vision, Save the Children, Parenting Uganda and many more.

Presenting a  document  titled “Child actors position on children in the post 2015 development agenda  for Uganda”,   Stella Ayo- Odong, the executive Director of Uganda Child rights NGO Network (UCRNN)an umbrella of a number of related organisations,  said it is worrying that the proposed  agenda,  with 17 goals  currently, are silent on children yet they form the bulk of Uganda’s population.

Timothy Opobo, Protection manager at Child Fund agrees.  “There is no specific reference to children but unless it is explicit and clear, children will be forgotten.”

Odong adds that despite having about 19 million children out of a population of 36 million, government’s budget allocations for their protection and development is negligible drawn from the budget of the line ministry- Gender Labour and Social Development.

She decries the rising numbers of children trafficked in and out of the country unnoticed making Uganda a supply and demand hub. It is estimated that 680 children leave Uganda every year. Therefore, the amount of money allocated for the protection of children from abuse and violence does not commensurate the amount of work to be done.

Now, the activists want this, among other issues addressed, citing 12 recommendations to the government and other stakeholders including the United Nations.

They  recommend  progressive realization of  children’s rights  without  any  discrimination; eliminating  all forms of violence and  abuse;  inclusive  social protection, reducing the persistent  yet preventable infant and  child deaths; equipping  adolescents with  adequate knowledge and skills  on reproductive heath  risks and self protection .

Also, achieving universal access to quality early childhood development programs and  universal birth registration for all children; ensuring children  have decent living  conditions; generating and allocating  to the maximum extent possible, domestic resources for investing in children particularly in health, education, early childhood development and social  protection; ensuring that the best  interest  of the child is the primary consideration  in any action taken and  ensuring  the implementation of the global and regional commitment of the rights of the child.

They want the government to include these recommendations at the global level while pushing for Uganda’s interests in the post 2015 development discussions.

However, the process of consultation started in 2012 and currently countries are expected to be localizing the proposed 17 goals.

“Negotiations will start in October under Sam Kutesa’s leadership but we are urging him to consider children’s issues,” Odong said, “We want to meet Kutesa through you (the media).”

on June 11, Kutesa , Uganda ‘s foreign affairs minister  was selected as  president of  the 68th session of the United Nations  General Assembly  for one year  starting  next month. Kutesa has chosen the theme “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda” and  closely working with UN, he   pledges  to address among others different global challenges confronting humanity such as poverty and hunger; climate change and rising sea-levels; inadequate and expensive energy; armed conflicts; and emerging threats to peace and security especially terrorism, piracy and human trafficking.

But Opobo argues that “Climate change, gender questions are important but we are saying that the most important issue for the sustainability of Uganda and Africa is children.”

Opobo and the child activists are therefore urging Kutesa to make children key on his agenda as chair because they will be the ones to handle the same global challenges in future.

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