October 2 2012

NGOs unite to protect children in Nepal

02/10/2012 - Nepal has a high number of orphanages, and regulations on cross border adoptions are weak. Many orphanages are becoming homes for illegal adoption and there is a need for stricter regulation of alternative care of children. A two-day workshop was jointly organised by SOS Children's Villages and national and international organisations to discuss the reforms required to improving alternative care for children in Nepal.

Photo: Thomas Ernsting
Children who cannot live with their biological parents need special protection (Gandaki-Pokhara) © Thomas Ernsting
For this workshop on child care reform in Nepal, the Child Welfare Board (Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare), UNICEF, Save the Children and SOS Children’s Villages Nepal came together for a policy dialogue at the SOS Children's Village in Sanothimi near Kathmandu.

The result was quite a motivating event as policy makers, implementing agencies and childcare professionals together developed a common understanding of the current international standards, including the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. And they identified innovative strategies which would address the needs of children without parental care more effectively.

Developing strategies to address children's needs

The strategies developed include a call on the Nepali government to work in full consultation with intergovernmental organisations, international and national NGOs and civil society groups to deliver the necessary reform of systems and settings. The workshop participants defined some of the most urgent actions, such as
•To develop and implement appropriately targeted family strengthening programmes for families at risk, including supportive social services which prevent the necessity for alternative care.
•An effective gate-keeping mechanism has to be in place to prevent unnecessary institutionalization of children.
•Alternatives to large residential care facilities have to be developed within the context of an overall deinstitutionalization strategy and precise targets for their progressive elimination should be worked out.

Other demands are to
•Intensify systematic monitoring of residential care facilities,
•Raise awareness about child rights,
•Allocate necessary human and financial resources to ensure the delivery of quality care for all children and
•Ensure that any decision taken about the child is guided by the principle of the best interest of the child and the children affected by the decision have an unhindered right to express their views.

A child’s right to quality care can only be fulfilled if the law, policy and practise of a country is constantly be reviewed to ensure that the child care and welfare systems are meeting the needs of the children.