A Big Dig into Child Financing

Members of the Committee inside Chigwirizano CBCC Members of the Committee inside Chigwirizano CBCC - pic by Happy Njalam'mano

A bumpy and dusty road from Mwanza District Council led a Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Welfare to a sorry sight of Chigwirizano Community Based Child Care Centre (CBCC).

Welcoming songs from the jovial children are heard at a distance inside a grass thatched and dilapidated CBCC at Ng’ozo village, Traditional Authority Nthache in the district.

These are children who are not even aware that what is domiciling them is a death trap called the CBCC whose roof is leaned on weak posts and walls.

Posts and walls that are just waiting for time to retire from holding the old aged roof.

All this, however, could not stop the children from singing and dancing for the visitors on this too hot Thursday of October 27, 2022.

Quick greetings and introductions from Stella Joseph were fast-forwarded to the highlights of problems hitting the Centre. Joseph is one of caregivers at the CBCC.

“You can see for yourself the state of the shelter. It is dilapidated and poses danger to the children. Rainy season is here and we do not know what will befall us,” she says.

She was speaking while pointing at the dilapidated roof of the shelter which does not have an actual entry because of the fallen walls.

Joseph says that the CBCC was established in 2004 and it accommodates 170 children from the area.

“We struggle to feed the children. Previously, we were given coupon for subsidized farm inputs for our field which we used to cultivate food for the children but that is no longer there.

“In addition to that, we work as volunteers and we have not received any training on what we do. This CBCC is an initiative of the community and we do not get any support from any one. We just do it for the love of our children so that may they will have a bright future,” she added.

This is one of many examples of challenges that are affecting children in the CBCCs in the district and across the country.

Mwanza District Commissioner, Malango Botomani, agrees that investing in child’s early education is a big problem in the district.

“We have 1, 320 caregivers in the district but a few are trained. The work is huge but funding is inadequate.

“It is our plea to central government to assist us in training these volunteers and give them honoraria,” Botomani told the Committee.

The Committee chairperson, Savel Kafwawa, said “we came here to appreciate the work of CBCCs because of the work that has been happening here in Mwanza.

“Mwanza scored poorly during the past Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations and the Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education. Our indicators in terms of education are not so good.”

Kafwafwa shared the plight of the CBCCs and pledged to push for parliament’s intervention in addressing some of the challenges facing the children.

“There is need for capital investment. For example, if there is need to construct 20, 000 CBCCs across Malawi, that money should be made available so that every community should be supported.

“We are lobbying for government to introduce a protected funding within the Constituency Development Fund specifically for the CBCCs. That will help every constituency to come up with at least three or four CBCCs. This will cover the gap that is existing,” he said.

NGO Coalition on Child Rights in collaboration with Save the Children and UNICEF organized the budget execution monitoring visit for the Committee.

The visits were part of efforts in influencing increased Public Financing for Children.

The Committee members held interface with the communities to dig deep on the impact of low financing on child rights related programmes and services.

Chairperson for NGO Coalition on Child Rights, Desmond Mhango, says the partnership with support from NORAD has been implementing projects where they review national budgets in terms of how much is allocated to children.

“We engage parliament through the committee to appreciate how much is the national budget providing to child funding in the sector responsible for child development,” he said.

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