Inventory of fixtures
The issue of child protection is closely related to ensuring the healthy development of children through the enjoyment of all their human rights. These involve in particular their access to basic social services such as health, education, nutrition, protection, environmental sustainability, etc. However, we observe that for various reasons, many children do not have access to these services due to poverty, not being registered at birth, emergency situations, neglect and abandonment, violence and abuse, trafficking and exploitation, the degradation of the family fabric, the erosion of traditional values of solidarity, disability, HIV and AIDS. Therefore, there is a new problem of taking care of these children who are known as vulnerable children. Those who fall in this category are generally all children who, because of the circumstances of their birth or of their immediate environment, are unable to meet their basic needs and are likely to be victims of violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination.
More specifically, it is children who are disabled, abandoned, orphaned, refugees, abused, in the street, in distress, in emergency situations, in conflict with the law or from marginalized populations, victims of neglect, abuse, exploitation and trafficking ...
In view of the improvement of knowledge and an overview of the vulnerability of children, studies and surveys have been made with the support of bilateral and multilateral partners.
Thus, under studies carried out, we can cite amongst others:
- The study on "Street children in Cameroon: the surprise action" carried out in Maroua, Garoua, Ngaoundéré, Douala and Yaounde by Marie Therese MENGUE - August 2003;
- The study of "Sexual exploitation of children in Cameroon: Yaounde, Douala, Kribi, Limbe, Ngaoundéré" by Frederick BOURSIN, April 2004;
- Trafficking in children for labour exploitation in Cameroon, ILO / IPEC / LUTRENA, 2005;
- Poverty and disparities among children in Cameroon (2009), information on the author;
- Social budgeting in Cameroon, Isaac Tamba, 2010.
National enquiries made on the situation of vulnerable children include:
The social dashboard on the situation of children and women (1999, 2004 and 2009);
The 3rd General Census of Population and Housing, 2010;
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 1, 2 and 3);
The Cameroonian Household Survey (ECAM I and ECAM II ECAM III);
The National Report on Child Labour (2008).
The data from these studies and surveys illustrate that:
Of every 2 Cameroonians, 1 is less than 18 years old;
40% of the population lives in poverty;
The net enrollment rate is 22% in preschool, 80% of primary and 38% secondary;
The school dropout rate is 44%;
89% of the urban population has access to drinking water against 49% in rural areas;
The malnutrition rate is 32% in children under 5 years;
30% of births of children under 5 years is not recorded;
27 % of children aged 5 to 17 years are compelled to do labour that should be abolished;
Only 16.73% identified OVC received care.
These studies and surveys have also highlighted the existence of certain phenomena such as: violence against children, abandonment, neglect, child abuse, juvenile delinquency, street children, prostitution amongst young girls, and the emergence of others such as traffic and the sale of children.
They show a significant gap between the daily lives of many children (revealing unsatisfied needs and expectations) and the political will repeatedly declared and evidenced by commitments at the national and international level.
In Cameroon, the protection of children in all aspects necessary for their development and growth remains an ongoing concern of the Government and is fully in line with the political thought of the President of the Republic and Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya as expressed in his book "Communal Liberalism" published in 1987, in which he says:
“It behoves us to worksothatthe children (...) of this country cease to die likeorphans or destitutes, and thatgrowth, the result of a collective effort, canensuregreater protection »
In terms of general policy,the Framework Document for the National Policy of Integrated Development of the Young Child approved in 2008, although limited to early childhood (0-08 years), is now the only reference document as far as orientation for the holistic protection child is concerned.
This document sets the overall objective of ensuring the survival and full development of girls and boys of Cameroon from conception to the age of eight years, in all aspects (psych-somotatic, socio-emotional, cognitive, moral and communicative ) through enlightenment, health, nutrition, protection, education, the quality of the physical, family, community and cultural environment.
This general objective is broken down into ten specific objectives, following the three strategic areas below:
Improving access and quality of basic social services essential necessary for the harmonious development of young children;
Improving the quality of life and environment of the young child;
Strengthening the institutional and strategic framework.
In addition, two main strategies for child protection are reflected in the organization of the Department of Social Protection of Children and are divided into: the promotion of children’s rights and safeguarding of the child:
The promotion of children's rights refers to the extension of the latter within the national community in the diversity of its component, the national mobilization in favour of human rights and the general and special protection of children against any infringement on their rights;
Safeguarding the child, for its part, refers to the management of early childhood, particularly through the provision of a substitute parent to an abandoned child or one with no known family, in the prevention and treatment of social maladjustment of the child.
At the forefront of the Government's actions to deal with this situation it may be noted that Cameroon has ratified almost all legal instruments for the protection of children. The most important are:
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols;
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment;
Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour;
The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
In addition, Cameroon has always participated in various international meetings on the situation of the child. The Special Session of the General Assembly on children was held in New York in May 2002 and saw the participation of a Cameroonian delegation led by the Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya.
In legal terms, the country has a pioneering legislative and regulatory framework for the protection of children's rights.
The Constitution, in its preamble, guarantees the freedom and security to each individual, with a specific concern for the protection of children and youth.
In criminal matters, many provisions of the Penal Code may be referred to suppress cases of bodily or mental harm to the child. Section 350 of the Code entitled "offenses against the child" aggravates penalties when an offense is committed to the detriment of a child.
In social matters, the Labour Code prohibits forced or compulsory labour (Article 292 paragraph 3) and excludes the employment of children under 14 and their use in hazardous labour or that exceeding their power (art. 86 and 87). The said Code provides for sanctions against the perpetrators of these offenses (s.167). In addition, the Decree of 27 May 1969 on child labour prohibited and provides a list of types of work likely to corrupt the morals of children.
In civil matters, the Civil Code establishes the obligation between ascendants and descendants (art. 203), between the adopter and the adopted (art. 355), and parental authority (art. 371-387), all of which contribute to the prevention and suppression of trafficking and exploitation of children.
Special laws also contribute to making operational the policy against violence and exploitation of children. These are:
- Law No. 2005/015 of 29 December 2005 on the fight against trafficking and child trafficking repealed and replaced by Law No. 2011/024 of 14 December 2011 on the fight against smuggling and trafficking of persons;
- Ordinance No. 81/02 of 29 June 1981 on the organization of civil status and various provisions relating to the status of individuals as amended and supplemented by Law No. 2011/011du May 6, 2011. This Order provides for the signaling of a newborn child (art. 38), parental and custody of children born out of wedlock (art 47), support for children left in the care of an abandoned wife (art. 76);
- Law No. 97/12 of 10 January 1997 laying down the conditions for entry, stay and exit of foreigners in Cameroon and its implementing Decree No. 2000/286 of 12 October 2000 that requires parental consent for children for the issuance of a travel document.
At the institutional level, the Government has several departments in charge of ensuring the rights of the child. However, it is the Ministry of Social Affairs, which statutorily assignsthe social protection of vulnerable people among whom are children in need of special protection measures. This objective is pursued through an internal organization and services:
- Creation of a Directorate of Social Protection of the Child and the functioning of ten Regional Delegations and 58 Departmental Delegations.
- Existence of Operational Technical Unit: Social Services and Centres for Social Action.
- Existence of many centres for the care and reception of young children, and the reeducation of socially maladjusted or delinquent children
- The creation in 1990 of a National Commission for Child Protection, Juvenile Delinquents and Abandoned Children.
The policy of child protection is supported by the active action of various national partners, Private Social NGOs and associations in the legal, health, education and psycho-social framework. It is important to note in this dynamic the plural action of the First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Chantal Biya, who through her charitable works such as African Synergy for the fight against AIDS and suffering, CERAC and the Foundation that bears her name, is involved in the development of the child.
In addition, many programmes and projects benefit the support from bilateral and multilateral partners like: UNICEF, the World Bank, Plan Cameroon, SOS Kinderdorf, ILO, Belgium, Italy, etc..
Major challenges of the social protection of children
In view of the problems currently plaguing the social protection of children in general and support for vulnerable children in particular, the main challenges faced by the country for their optimal development focus on:
- The development of a national policy document of social protection of children,
- The creation of a true national self-government coordination of interventions for child protection,
- The availability of a dynamic national database on vulnerable children,
- Strengthening the legal framework by the result of the process of adoption of draft law on each code and Child Protection Code of Persons and the Family;
- Strengthening the institutional framework for the effective implementation of Decrees 2001/109/PM of 20 March 2001 establishing the organization and functioning of public institutions, supervision of minors and rehabilitation of socially maladjusted juveniles, and No. 2001/110/PM of 20 March 2001 establishing the organization and functioning of public institutions, supervision of young children in order to provide the country with enough structures for the supervision of vulnerable children
- The result of the adoption of the Statute of Social Workers,
- The increase in social personal and continuous strengthening of their technical capacity,
- The culmination of the process of defining the national response standards framework for vulnerable children,
- The increase in financial resources allocated to the social sector in general and Social Affairs in particular,
- The continued implementation of the National Policy Framework Document for Integral Development of the Young Child
- Strengthening the partnership by developing a number of projects and programmes for children and seeking partners for funding.
Promotion of the Rights Of the Child
The protection of human rights in general and of children in particular is framed in Cameroon by a legal arsenal consisting of protocols, ratified charters and international conventions, national laws and regulations.
In this wise, it should be noted that the preamble of Law No. 06 of 18 January 1996 amending the 1972 Constitution states that "the human being without distinction of race, religion, sex or creed possesses sacred inalienable rights." In it is also found Cameroon's commitment to fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and all related and duly ratified international conventions.
At the international level, as said by the Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya at the UN Special Session on Children in 2002, " Cameroon has ratified almost all international legal instruments on the child. "
It may well include but not limited to:
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child on 11 January 1993;
- The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 05 September 1996;
- Convention No. 138 of the ILO Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, 14 April 1998;
- Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, on 27 May 2002;
- The Optional Protocol to the CRC Protocol of 18 December 1989 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, instrument of accession dated December 4, 2004;
- Supplementing the United Nations Convention of 15 November 2000 against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. Protocol ratified by Cameroon (the Decree of 18 November 2004).
At the national level,
In addition to its membership in the various above-mentioned international legal instruments, the Government of Cameroon has decided to always put children at the centre of its concerns. That is why it adopted since independence, legislative and regulatory measures critical to the implementation of children's rights, and initiated procedures which are at a very advanced stage. These measures are:
- The Civil Code which regulates the issue of parental responsibility in its articles 1384 and those following.
- The Penal Code in which the protection of children's rights is evident, particularly in the provisions of Articles 29, 39 al.6, 48, 80, 179 (custody of a minor), 340 (infanticide), 341 (attack on descendants), 342 (slavery and pawning) 198 paragraph 1 (b) and (c) (banned publications) and 337 and following articles that deal with the child and family;
- The adoption of Law No. 2005/007 / of 27 July 2005 on the Criminal Procedure Code , which has many favourable provisions for the child who commits or is victim of an offense;
- The adoption of Law No. 2011/024 of 14/12/2011 on the fight against the traffic and trade of persons, repealing Law No. 2005/015 of 29/12/2005 on the fight against the traffic and trade of children;
- Decree No. 2011/408 of 09/12/2011 on the organization of Government, establishing several departments in charge of the promotion and protection of children’s rights. These are, for example, the Ministry of Social Affairs (social protection of the child), the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family (promotion of children's rights), the Ministry of Basic Education (teaching Nursery and General Primary), the Ministry of Secondary Education (technical and general education), the Ministry of Public Health (Prevention and health care to the mother and child), the Ministry of Youth and Education Civic (promotion of leisure and post and extracurricular activities, etc.).
- Adoption perspective of the law code of individuals and families;
- Law No. 98/004 of 14 April 1998 on educational guidance which sets the age of compulsory schooling at 14 years;
- The Labour Code and regulatory acts relating to labour from which children are prohibited;
- Decree No. 90-524 of 23 March 1990 established a National Commission for Juvenile Delinquents, Abandoned Children or those in Moral Danger;
- Decree No. 2001/041 of 19 February 2001 on the organization of government schools and establishing the powers of officials of the school administration, which in its article 47 institutes the exemption of annual contributions requested from pupils of government primary schools, to give effect to the gratuity of primary education as decided by the President of the Republic on 10 February 2000.
- The development of two draft laws on the Child Protection Code ant the of Persons and the Family respectively.
Beyond the above mentioned legal framework, various actions to direct effects were undertaken both by the Cameroonian government and partners. These include programmes for cooperation with international organizations of the United Nations working in the field of promotion and protection of children’s rights: UNICEF, UNESCO, ILO / BIT, the Global Fund, etc..
The extension of the rights of the child is carried out by:
- The organization of awareness campaigns during celebrations marking the Day of the African Child (16 June), National Youth Days (February 11) and various other national and local events;
- The organization since 1998 of sessions of the Children's Parliament with the training of junior parliamentarians on the rights of the child and distribution of various information carriers;
- Production of 15,000 tapes on the CDE distributed to children in schools and other walks of life during the sensitization campaigns;
- The production of posters and flyers for public awareness on the violation of children's rights;
- The organization of several annual editions of Radio and Television Days for children, based on the extension and promotion of the rights of the child;
- The gradual integration of modules on the teaching of human and children’s rights in school and university curricula;
- For its part, the translation and dissemination of the CRC in local simplified language faces the problem of the plurality of national languages and illiteracy.
In perspective, the achievement of children's rights calls for:
- The continuation of the ongoing process of the improvement of the national framework by internalizing the provisions of the international legal instruments ratified particularly through the adoption of specific legislative texts and the creation of an autonomous structure in charge of following up the implementation of the said rights;
- Strengthening the institutional framework for the effective implementation of the relevant texts;
- Capacity building services and social workers;
- The continued sensitization of children, their parents and communities on the rights of the child;
- Strengthening partnerships with civil society and bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation in the protection and promotion of children's rights.
Children in conflict with law
The Child in Conflict with the Law (CCL) means any person under 18 who has committed or perpetrated an offense or is an accomplice or charged. This is a child whose actions fall within the scope of the law and who is called to deal with the institutional system of reparations to others or to society.
We can find the CCL at Police Stations, Courts, Prisons, Public Institutions catering for minors and reeducating socially maladjusted juveniles, Private Social Structures catering for children, or families.
Some get in conflict with the law following a complaint, raids by security forces or a request for assistance from family members. It could therefore be classified into 03 categories:
1. Children who cannot be accused of having been in the wrong place at the wrong time;
2. Socially maladjusted children, i.e. those with behavioural problems such that they are unable to adapt to their environment, to adjust to the society, to play their role in society, and thus pose a real problem in their families;
3. Delinquent children, that is to say those who, beyond the benign characteristics of juvenile social maladjustment acts, have gone the extra mile of committing a wrongdoing which in legal terms is called a crime.
III. Special protection measures of CCL
The CCL should receive a categorical separation from adults in their place of detention or imprisonment (Police Station, Territorial Units of Gendarmerie, Prisons ...).
During the preliminary investigation of the minor, custody should only be used when it is absolutely necessary, and the hearing is to take place in the presence of his parents or other family member or in the presence of the Social Worker assigned to the unit concerned.
When pursuing the minor is necessary and subject to the provisions of Article 80 of the Penal Code, the person pursuing him can only be convinced of the crime by way of legal information, information that will focus on useful investigations on the knowledge of his personality (the Criminal Procedure Code envisages social enquiry and medical examination as measures at the discretion of the Judge and the means of achieving this). In addition, restrictive or custodial measures likely to occur at this stage of the procedure are rare and must be taken by the judge "in the interest of the minor." They are:
Judicial placement of the minor in a reception and observation centre, a rehabilitation centre or a (see Decree No. 2001/109 of 20 March 2001) shelter;
The custody of the minor is a judicial supervision measure of prohibiting him from going to some circles, meet some people, practice activities related to the act charged, and obliging him to make himself available for justice, e.g. answering the summons of any judicial authority;
Remand in custody: The concern for rapid social reintegration of the child led the legislature to make the detention of a minor an exception. Indeed, Article 704 of the CPC envisages this measure for minors aged 12 to 14 years only in cases of assassination, murder or manslaughter and Article 705 does provide it for minors aged 14 to 18 years only if the measure is indispensable. In any case, the best interests of the child should guide the decision of the judge, especially when there is reason to fear for the safety of the child. When detention is unavoidable, the law requires that it takes place only in an appropriate institution. It is under Article 706 of rehabilitation facilities, or in a special section in a prison authorized to accommodate juveniles.
If he is transferred, it must be carried out under conditions favouring the protection of the minor against trauma that may result particularly in inhuman and degrading treatment or exposure to unsavory publicity.
On the judgment of minors, procedural rules have been simplified and harmonized by the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). Thus the Court of First Instance acting in juvenile delinquency jurisdiction over all types of offenses committed by the minors aged ten years and under 18 years of age, except when involved in the same case as accomplices or major sponsors. This court is composed of a heterogeneous collegiality including magistrates and judges. These assessors are appointees, "known for their interest in children's issues or for their expertise in this area," whose role is to advise the judge, whose opinion must be taken into consideration in judicial decisions. (See art 710 CPC). In addition, to ensure a fair trial and the protection of privacy of the minor, the legislature has provided systematic appointment of a counsel and limited advertising particularly the need for in camera hearing.
Furthermore, measures and penalties that the Court may impose on the minor after the judgment must proceed from the interests of rapid social rehabilitation of the latter. They are mentioned in articles 724-730 of the CPC and vary according to the age of the minor, the nature of the offense and depending on whether it is a recurrence or not. Some prohibit freedom but most are real alternatives to imprisonment. These alternatives are simple admonition / reprimand, placement of the child in an institution of rehabilitation, probation, placement in a vocational school or care, preventive engagement, or the award of custody to his parents, guardian, custodian or any trustworthy person. In any case, the judge is advised to focus on measures that would appear to be natural life for the child, and only opt for institutional solution as a last resort.
Regardless of the type of offense, a 10-year-old minor enjoys an irrefutable presumption of criminal responsibility.
Prevention and management of the phenomenon of Children in conflict with the law
The prevention of the phenomenon of Children in Conflict with the Law, as well as its management, calls the family as the first part of socialization as well as the community, the government, the children themselves, the media, private structures catering for children, civil society, regional and local authorities, and religious denominations.
• Parents should be aware of their responsibilities vis-à-vis their children. It is, for example, strengthening the capacity of children to fulfill their duties and responsibilities, providing them the culture of effort, inculcating in them respect for the freedom of others, the love of country and positive socio-cultural values (love of parents, respect for elders ...).
• For their part, children should know that if they have rights, they also have duties. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child states in Article 31 that: "Every child has responsibilities towards his family, society, the State and other legally recognized communities and towards the international community" . These obligations include respect for institutions, legal norms and social norms of their membership companies.
• The community must promote social cohesion and solidarity towards members in difficulty, thus the management of benign forms of social maladjustment by secondary social networks, when parents are overwhelmed;
• The means of government actions in the prevention and treatment of juvenile social maladjustment are not limited to the establishment of the legal framework that we discussed. Parents can receive technical support in the management education of their children in hand by, for instance, going towards social centers of their subdivision of residence. Social Action Services with Police Stations, the courts and correctional institutions provide among other things psychosocial support in the administrative chain of juvenile justice. Government institutions that cater for minors and for the rehabilitation of socially maladjusted juveniles provide assessment of their situation and the restructuring of their personality to better rehabilitation. Administrations involved also develop programmes to strengthen the capacity of parents to play their role, such as parental education programme, the programme for the education of the people on responsible parenthood, the proposed fight against the phenomenon of street children. This would allow children to avoid harmful behaviours.
• Acting as an extension of state action, private childcare structures increase national capacities for the institutional care of social maladjusted children for reintegration.
• The civil society must continue to advocate the respect and achievement of children's rights, promote family harmony and ensure the relay messages from the Government within communities.
• In granting relief from the state to indigent families and supporting them in achieving income-generating activities, the Regional and Local Authorities are tackling the issue of poverty as an indirect determinant of juvenile social maladjustment (slip the child to the streets in search of daily bread and exposure to promiscuity with other offenders).
• Faiths contribute to the prevention of juvenile social maladjustment by educating the flock on family harmony and responsible parenthood.
Protection Of The Little Child
The privileged status of children in Cameroon echoes the commitment of the Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya, who from the rostrum of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the United Nations on Children in May 2002, said: "No human cause is more worthy than the defense and promotion of human rights and the future of children, who, according to the bible, are God's inheritance."
This child protection in all aspects necessary for its development and growth remains an ongoing concern of the Government of Cameroon. This results in a multitude of multi-sectoral actions for this segment of the vulnerable population.
The organization of the government has no less than 13 government departments whose work contributes to the development of early childhood.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, in charge of social protection of children, enjoys the support of many other governments, parastatal and private structures, the civil society and the support of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Cameroon has ratified the main international legal instruments and has always participated in various international meetings devoted to the situation of the child.
The Constitution, the Civil and Criminal Codes in force in Cameroon also contain specific provisions to protect the child.
Advances in the protection of the little child
Early childhood (0-3 years) is characterized by high child dependency vis-à-vis their environment and parents. Their welfare needs focus on physical security, affective and emotional, taking nutrition and health care. They also cover the definition of a more fulfilling legal and institutional framework and guarantee the realization of their fundamental rights.
In terms of policy :
Development of a National Policy Framework Document for Integral Development of the Young Child (DIJE) with three (3) major strategic axes:
- Improving access and quality of basic social services necessary for the harmonious development of young children;
- Improved quality of life and environment of the young child;
- Strengthening the institutional and strategic device concerning the young child.
In terms of interventions and services:
Safeguarding family harmony through:
- Family education on responsible parenthood;
- Premarital, marital and family education;
- Fight against the concubinage;
- Family mediation in cases of conflict between the couple or family.
Safeguarding children deprived of a family environment through:
- Institutional or foster care;
- The current debate on the institutionalization of a system sponsorship of vulnerable children in Cameroon.
At the institutional level:
In Cameroon, the best living place for the child is in the family. The creation of childcare institutions intervenes only to overcome the crisis and temporary substitute parents.
Under the care of children temporarily or permanently deprived of their family environment, the country currently has two types of institutions: Reception Centers for Distressed Children commonly known by their French acronym, CAED, and Childcare Centres.
To date, 04 CAED with a capacity of 40 spaces each, are functional in the capital Yaounde and Garoua in the North, Ambam in the South and Ekondo TITI in the South West Region.
A pilot Daycare Nursery with 60 spaces was opened Djoungolo (Yaoundé).
Regulations are also taken to ensure the smooth functioning and organization of institutions catering for the little child.
This is the case of Decree 2001/110PM of March 2001 on the organization and functioning of government institutions catering young children (day-care, nursery and day nurseries).
The effective implementation of the provisions of this decree will contribute to improving the management of the little child.
In addition to the government organization, the State has established an institutional framework (laws and decrees) promoting the involvement of private partners. The policy of child protection is strongly supported by the active action of various NGOs and associations in the legal, health, education and psycho-social framework.
It is important to note the dynamic and plural action of the First Lady HE Mrs Chantal Biya who through her charitable works such as African Synergy for the Fight Against AIDS and Suffering, the Circle of Friends of Cameroon (CERAC) and Foundation that bears her name is involved in the development of the child.
Prospects for action for children: priority areas of intervention
All these advances meant to make Cameroon a country fit for caring for children have only been possible through the adoption and implementation of a participatory strategy that builds on our traditional values of sharing: this is nothing else than national solidarity. In this movement, the prospects of social protection of children focus on the following priority areas:
Improvement and strengthening of political, legal and institutional framework;
Identification and reinforcement of the capacities of Private Social Structures catering for the little child;
Partnership development, advocacy and resource mobilization;
Reinforcing the supervision of child care facilities;
Pursuit for its effective implementation of the national debate on the sponsorship as palliative measures of support for children in distress;
Reinforcing the capacity of social workers.
Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)
The issue of support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in the context of HIV / AIDS has long been made public in Cameroon. Indeed, because of socio-cultural values that make the education and supervision of a child a community and social concern, the issue of orphans being a specific category of children was not easy to admit in the Cameroonian society.
Faced with the havoc caused by HIV, especially in a context of poverty characterized by dwindling resources and the erosion of solidarity, it is unfortunately evident that orphans are a separate group, a group that should be given some attention and that requires specific and individual actions. Thus, in the early 2000s, on the occasion of the adoption of the first strategic plans against HIV and AIDS in Cameroon, specific areas of action were identified and planned targeting particularly Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Profile estimates of HIV in Cameroon prepared by the NAC in 2010 came up with 1,203,918 as the number of orphans in Cameroon, including 25.3% of children orphaned by HIV. Projections show that there will be 1,291,474 orphans in 2015, with 350,644 children orphaned by HIV, or 27.2%.
If during the first years, the catering for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Cameroon was primarily supported or focused on orphans directly affected by HIV / AIDS, OVC can be defined today as any child under 18 years, who finds themselves in one of the following situations: the death of one or both parents or legal guardian, and the HIV infection of one or both parents or legal guardian, the infection by HIV of the child, the HIV infection of a sibling, the abandonment by parents or the community, the poverty of parents (biological ones, reception families, sponsors, host structures).
The consideration of OVC thus goes beyond mere direct link with HIV / AIDS to cover a broader set of children deprived of family care and being found in a precarious situation.
The groups of children below are also part of the category of OVC:
• orphans of one or both parents or legal guardian;
• children living with parents or guardians with chronic diseases;
• Street children and / or children in the street;
• Child victims of early marriage before age 18;
• Victims of child abuse (physical, psychological, sexual) and neglect;
• Abandoned children;
• Children heads of families
• Child victims of trafficking, trade or exploitation
• Child beggars;
• Children in conflict with the law and / or victims of crime
• Children of indigenous peoples;
• Children from poor families;
• Children with chronic illnesses;
• Children infected or affected by HIV (illness or loss of one or both parents to HIV);
• Disabled children or disabled relatives born poor or needy;
• Socially maladjusted children;
• Children who do not have decent housing;
• Malnourished children;
• Children of separated and / or divorced parents;
• Children victims of accidents or disasters.
Experienced problems and needs of OVC
The main feature of vulnerability is the fragility of the individual against the demands / external and internal attacks. Regarding the specific case of the OVC, 10 priority needs were identified corresponding to its main existential concerns.
• The first need of the OVC is their reintegration so as to establish and / or renew the physical, psychological and social contact with their immediate environment, the community and society as a whole.
• The second need is their nutrition in order to ensure their survival to withstand external stresses that may impact negatively on their physical or mental disposition.
• The third need is an affective, emotional, psychological and social follow-up. This need is fundamental to their balance because on account of their immaturity, they lack the required cues for life in society. The vulnerability results in the interruption, or discontinuation of the regression process of comprehensive development of the child, nothing lasting can be considered outside of the best interests of the latter.
• The fourth need is to provide the child with adequate health care, for the poor conditions in which he lives exposes him to various ailments that are the basis of different diseases that can lead to death.
• The fifth need is to ensure their education. Beyond basic education to which access is guaranteed for all children in Cameroon, a decent and rewarding environment that facilitates socialization is essential.
• The sixth need is the acquisition "of life skills" that would permit them to take charge of themselves early in life and to have mechanisms for obtaining available goods. The seventh will need the protection of their rights to the shelter in cases of violence, discrimination and stigma.
• The eighth need is rehabilitation so as to repair their physical, mental or social defects.
• The ninth need is the socio-economic empowerment in order to overcome the scarcity of resources within families and facilitate access of the OVC to basic social services.
• The tenth need is access to a home so as to ensure and / or provide the OVC a physical setting and human security for their total well-being.
Finally, every human being needs physical and emotional protection for their development. The OVC can therefore best flourish if reassured about a harmonious and fulfilling family and social life.
Policy guidance and services
On the whole, interventions towards the OVC have equity as their main directing principle and are child-focused, family-centered and community-based. Focus on the child means that all interventions and activities are in their best interest, and must be oriented on their basic needs, taking into account their age, sex and stage of development. The centralization of the family in it implies that programmes and interventions recognize that the family is the best place of development and growth of the child. Finally, if projects and actions are based on the community, it is to recognize that the community is the second line of security for the child, while it remains the cornerstone of consolidation of individual and family balance .
The main services offered to the OVC are: facilitating access to their
basic social services (health, education, nutrition, housing and other basic material needs), psychosocial counseling, rights protection (fight against stigma, legal aid, facilitating birth registration ...), strengthening the capacity of families, communities and institutions to reception and support structures.
The main actors are the State, Regional and Local Authorities, Civil Society Organizations, religious groups, traditional authorities, OVC, families and communities, not to mention development partners. Many programmes have been developed and implemented like the National Program Support for OVC with the Global Fund, Multi-Bi project and component support OVC Child HIV program in cooperation with UNICEF. We can also mention here the contribution of Plan-Cameroon, Cameroon Care and national organizations such as the Chantal Biya Foundation and African Synergy against Against AIDS and Suffering.
The direct beneficiaries of the actions are OVC, families and childcare facilities for OVC, while the indirect beneficiaries are mainly comprised of communities.
The Implementation of the National Strategic Plan for catering for the OVC in its five major strategic axis, namely the development of a protective environment for the OVC, catering for the OVC and their families, the capacity actors, resource mobilization and partnership, as well as the coordination, monitoring and evaluation...