ChildFund Alliance member Barnfonden is currently coordinating with three civil society organizations (CSOs) on what is their largest project funded by the European Union: “Strengthening Civil Society and Social Accountability for Improved Access to Quality, Inclusive Early Child Development (ECD) Services.”
The project in Indonesia aims to build the capacity of CSOs to become driving forces in the implementation of programs to fulfill children’s rights by collaborating closely with local authorities that are accountable to their citizens for the design of inclusive policies. The project focuses on the right to early education through the provision of ECD services that are inclusive, high quality, sustainable, and accessible to all in marginalized regions. The project aims to impact more than 53,000 preschool aged children.
Currently Barnfonden is building the organizational capacity of two key child-focused CSOs in Nusa Tenggara Timur, located in the southernmost province of Indonesia, through intensive trainings and mentoring. The project team is helping these CSOs to develop and implement their own Child Safeguarding Policies as well as strengthen their financial and project cycle management. The initiative is already starting to bring together CSOs and local authorities from the village, district, and national level to promote the importance and necessity of Early Childhood Education for children.
In Ethiopia, Barnfonden is lending its support to highlight the importance of four areas of intervention, using a holistic approach to tackle several challenges as they relate to the safety and economic welfare of children.
In the area of child protection and gender equality, Barnfonden is working to help prevent harmful traditional practices (HTPs) such as female genital mutilation and child marriage through awareness raising and education in all sectors of the community, including legal systems, police and school. They also are providing income-generating activities for both HTP-doers and for abused survivors.
Concurrently, Barnfonden is economically empowering local youth by engaging them in entrepreneurship training and assisting with start-up capital and micro loans so that they can become empowered and confident young adults. The project involves coordinating with the community at large to stand up for fair labor practices and to prevent the sexual exploitation of young workers.
Barnfonden also is working to advance child-friendly climate resilience to natural disasters, such as reoccurring droughts. The project focuses on creating awareness of disaster risk reduction, child vulnerability during disasters, and introducing natural resource management trainings for schools. In addition, the project provides communities with improved irrigation systems and drought resilient crops. It also is educating farmers on small ruminants, providing training on developing energy saving stoves, and teaching skills on how to save money for when emergencies strike.
A fourth project focuses on improving access to education for special needs children for whom education is vital to building confidence and independence. These children often face discrimination, suffer from a lack of adequate policies and legislation protecting their well-being, and have little or no access to education. As part of this work, both teachers and community members receive training to help change attitudes and reduce the stigma toward children living with disabilities. A key goal is to demonstrate that special needs children have the potential to both learn and flourish. The endeavor also is providing study materials for the children and equipping school playgrounds with safe and fun play equipment.