Government of Sierra Leone
World Summit Goals for Children
End Decade Report
1991 – 2000
The preparation of the End Decade Report for Sierra Leone started in August 2000, with a series of meetings held to draw up modalities for carrying out the review. Among those that took part in the initial deliberations regarding the review included the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, line Ministries (Health, Education, Development and Information), Chairman, Parliamentary Caucus for Children, representatives of NGOs and UNICEF.
The Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mrs. Shirley Gbujama, chaired the preliminary meetings. As a result of these meetings, a committee comprising representatives of line ministries, Government, NGOs, and UNICEF was set up to co-ordinate activities related to the report. The Committee was chaired by Hon. A.O.D George (Chairman, Parliamentary Caucus for Children). The Committee agreed to promote an all-encompassing, inter-sectoral participation with regard to inputs for the document in order to achieve a report reflecting consensus to the greatest extent possible.
Meetings of an inter-agency/sectoral committee were then scheduled to work out detailed Terms of Reference for the core group working on the report, and develop a Plan of Action for the compilation of the report within the stipulated timeframe. Activities regarding this plan included:
- Holding of workshops for collaborating partners
- Public sensitisation on the Report
- Meetings involving NGOs, private sector and civil society
- Co-ordinating inter-agency collaboration
- Actual writing/preparation of the Report
The process of compiling the report included obtaining relevant data from all sectors dealing with Children’s issues. The task involved private sector, civil society, and all relevant partners. Each participatory institution/agency was required to provide pertinent statistics and information, which were subsequently discussed by the Committee in respect of veracity and relevance.
Once all necessary input was received, a drafting committee collated and synthesised the information into a comprehensive report within the context of the prescribed format. A Draft Final Report was then submitted to the NGO community and other stakeholders at a workshop.
Participants reviewed the entire Report and made recommendations that were discussed in plenary and subsequently incorporated into the final Review.
UNICEF provided financial and technical support to the preparation process.
The following constituted the Core Group set up for the preparation and finalization of the Review:
1. Hon. A.O.D. George - Chairman, Parliamentary Caucus for Children
2.Theresa A. Vamboi (Ms.) - Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender &
Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA)
3. Hawa Musa (Mrs.) - Ministry of Development & Economic Planning
4. Dr. Clifford Kamara - Ministry of Health & Sanitation
5. Unisa S. Kamara - Ministry of Information & Broadcasting
6. Edward Sam - National Commission for Democracy & Human Rights
7. Alice Walker (Ms.) - Save the Children
8. Miatta Howard (Mrs.) - Forum for Women Educationalists (FAWE)
9. Jagmeet Uppal - UNICEF
10. Paul Sengeh - UNICEF
11. Lamini A. Warritay - UNICEF
National Report on Follow-up
to the World Summit for Children
Introduction and Background
On September 30, 1990 Sierra Leone joined several other countries at the World Summit for Children. The Summit brought together heads of state who signed the Declaration,
which was later ratified by the Sierra Leone Parliament. The Summit set goals for the survival, protection and development of children by the year 2000.
As a follow up to the recommendations of the Summit, the Government prepared a National Plan of Action (NPA) in collaboration with UNICEF and other stakeholders in the social sector. The NPA was launched for implementation in 1992 in a public forum, and various targets were set in line with World Summit goals. Strategies for the achievement of the NPA goals were hinged on the provision and expansion of basic services in the social sector while improving the quality of services already available. All these developments were to be obtained within the milieu of peace and tranquillity where everybody, including women and children, were assured of their basic dignity and human rights.
The goals of the National Plan of Action for children were generally in line with those set at the World Summit as follows:
-The reduction of under-five child mortality rates to 130 per 1000 live births from the rate of 260 per 100 live births and the reduction of infant mortality rate from 150 per 100 live birth to 70 per 1000 live birth.
-Reduction of maternal mortality rate by half from 630 per 10,000 to 310 per 10,000.
-Reduction of moderate and severe malnutrition among children under three years from 24% to 12% and from 3% to 1.5% respectively.
-Coverage of 75% of the population with safe drinking water and sanitary excreta disposal.
-Completion of primary education by 80% of primary school children.
-Reduction of adult illiteracy from 85% to 20%.
-Promotion of the social status, health, education and character development of children in especially difficult circumstances in the country.
However, much of the country's resources in the ensuing years were used to combat the situation arising from the war. Government could implement mainly emergency related programmes. As a result, the targets set in the NPA could not be achieved in the stipulated time. Thus, efforts at addressing child-related problems by government and other stakeholders were ad-hoc in many parts of the country, as people had been displaced within the country or had fled to neighbouring countries as refugees.
This report is therefore based on efforts that have been undertaken to curtail the growing problems of the women and children in this country over the past decade. The report also presents lessons learned in addressing the needs of the people amidst the hostilities and future actions that are needed to take the country forward into the next decade.
Despite all the problems inhibiting actions in the social sector, Sierra Leone was able to adhere to the requirements of the World Summit in so far as its reporting requirements to the General Assembly are concerned. In this vein Sierra Leone submitted its initial report on compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Committee on Child Rights in 1996. This was followed by the submission of a supplementary report in 1998. The Committee considered these reports in its 593rd and 594th meetings in Geneva on 13th January 2000, and subsequently adopted it at its 615th meeting held on 28 January 2000.
The Committee among other things made the following observations:
-that the government fulfilled its reporting obligations under the Convention "in spite of the internal armed conflict that has continued since 1991"
-that the armed conflict and other related factors were major inhibitors against the full implementation of the Convention.
In addition the Committee recommended a number of actions which would improve the status of the Sierra Leonean child:
-the provision of adequate funding to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs to address the social problems of the children
-the intensification of efforts to harmonise the country's laws with the provisions of the CRC
-the decentralisation and expansion of facilities for the provision of quality and improved educational and health services
-in the context of the war situation in the country, the Committee registered its concern for child victims with reference to both the physical and psychological damage suffered by children and called for an urgent "long-term and comprehensive programme of assistance, rehabilitation and reintegration".
Process Established for the End-decade
The process for the current End Decade Review exercise started as far back as in December 1999, with the commissioning of a Second National Multi Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS2) by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development. The Central Statistics Office prepared the proposal for the survey, with financial and technical support from UNICEF. As part of the process an Inter-Agencies Task Force on MICS2 was established consisting the following line ministries, agencies and NGOs:
Social Services Division and the PHRS of Ministry of Development and Economic Planning, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s
Affairs, (MSWGCA) Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports (MYES) Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Ministry Internal Affairs (MIA), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB)
UNICEF, UNFPA, FAO UNHCR, WHO, UNDP
Christian Children ‘s Fund (CCF), Action Aid SL, Christian Health Association Sierra Leone (CHASL), Plan International
The main responsibility of the Task Force was to monitor and oversee the progress of the system. It was decided by the Task Force that The Central Statistics Office (CSO) under the Ministry of Development and Economic Planning carry out the study. The study was completed in October.
The MICS2 survey was conducted based on a stratified cluster sampling methodology, which targeted 4,500 households countrywide and had as one of its major objectives the provision of up-to-date information for assessing the situation of children and women in Sierra Leone at the end of the decade. A standard questionnaire provided by UNICEF was used as the core survey instrument and information was collected from household heads, women of child-bearing age (defined as 15 - 49 years) and from the caretaker of every child under 5 years of age.
Much of the statistical data in this report is derived from the MICS-2. Other statistical data in the report come from sources at both Governmental and non-governmental levels. These data were used to complement the information that was not available in the MICS2 survey.
To make the process more participatory, a consultative forum of line ministries, NGOs, civil society groups, the media and a cross section of representatives of children was put together at the invitation of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs to determine the process for the End Decade Report for Sierra Leone. The forum set up a Core Group to undertake the review. The Chairman for the Parliamentary Caucus for Children and a Representative from the National Commission for Democracy and Human Rights (NCDHR) were included in the core group to give inputs from civil society.
Inputs from the various sectors were collected based on terms of reference developed by the core group. The inputs were based on activities undertaken by health, education and child protection sectors that address the needs of children in the past decade. In addition to sector specific inputs into the report, information was also obtained from consultative workshops held countrywide for civil society, including adults and children by the NCDHR on the Draft Bill on the Rights of the Child. Highlights of the discussions focused on various aspects of the Rights for the children as enshrined in the CRC and as against traditional practices and the existing laws of Sierra Leone. Some of these include definition of the child, discrimination against the girl child, freedom of expression, female circumcision, and illegitimacy and inheritance.
DRAFT REPORT REVIEWED
The perspectives of the NGO community and other stakeholders in child welfare were incorporated into the report following a workshop during which participants reviewed a draft report. The participants came from line ministries such as Education, Health, Ministries of Development and Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, children's groups, civil society, NGOs and UNICEF. The participants reviewed the various chapters in the report and made recommendations that were discussed in the plenary, and incorporated in the draft Report
Action at the National and International
As signatory to the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sierra Leone has adhered to most of its requirements both nationally and internationally to implement the World Summit Plan of action:
Since 1992, the government has increasingly put emphasis on implementing programmes in the social sector. In the first place budgetary allocations to the social sector increased from less than 10% in the late 1980s to more than 20% of its gross national product by the end of the decade. This has been in line with the requirements of the 20/20 initiative to which Sierra Leone, like other countries in the developing world is a signatory.
Sectoral Plans of Actions in the social sectors have focused on providing services that are in line with the goals of the World Summit for Children. Even though Infant and Under-five Mortality rates are still unacceptably high, recent studies (MICS2 household survey) have shown reduction of infant mortality from 194/1000 live births at the end of the decade. Similarly under-five mortality rate dropped from 327/1000 live births in 1985 to 286/1000 live births at the end of the decade. These improvements are a result of the Primary Health Care strategy to health care implemented by the country.
In the area of education, universal basic education still remains a lofty goal; however steps have been put in place to afford children access to quality education. The new Master Plan of Action projects for free and compulsory education for children under fifteen years of age within the next five years. Programmes have been developed with the aid of multilateral and bilateral donors to provide quality primary education at both formal and non-formal levels.
The ravages of the civil war for the past ten years gave rise to the violation of the rights of many children in the country. The government and the international community however strongly condemn such violations and have jointly come together to put in place mechanisms for the curtailment of future violations. The government has put policies in place to ensure the non-involvement of children in war. Where children are affected by war, provisions have been made to redress their ills through various programmes.
In addition to the specialised ministries of health and education that cater for the survival and development of the children, government has also established the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) to ensure their protection. In line with its mandate the Ministry co-ordinates government and non-governmental agencies in child protection activities. The Ministry in collaboration with UNICEF has facilitated the drafting of a child rights bill that is now in its final stages for enactment into law.
D) Specific Actions for Child Survival,
Protection and Development
- To disseminate and promote the earliest possible ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and, thereafter, to promote its implementation and monitoring.
Sierra Leone signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 2nd June 1990, making it the 7th country to do so. The instruments for the ratification of the said Convention were deposited with the UN Secretary General on 18th June of the same year. The country is also signatory to the Optional Protocols and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which adds an African dimension to the CRC. The efforts being made by the country to fulfill its reporting obligation under the CRC have also been outlined.
The Recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, following the review of the country report, were made public by the MSWGCA in a press conference in July 2000. Meanwhile the Ministry has been implementing some these recommendations. The most important of these is the process of harmonising the country's laws with the CRC. In this regard, the Draft Bill on Child Rights is in the final stages of being passed into law.
The Lome Peace Accord signed by the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in July 1999 makes special reference to the entitlement of the children of Sierra Leone to special care and protection in accordance with the provisions of the CRC. So far, this is the first peace agreement that has given such recognition to the CRC.
Following the signing of the Lome Accord, the MSWGCA with support from UNICEF intensified its efforts to promote and implement activities related to Child Rights. The Ministry also took a lead to organize a consultative forum with support from UNICEF to solicit ideas for the establishment of a National Commission for War-affected Children.
Also, during the period under review, UNICEF has been instrumental in promoting and disseminating the major issues in the CRC. For example, posters depicting the fundamental rights of children are on display in many parts of the country and there has been growing awareness on the importance of child rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was produced in a simplified version and distributed to children. Some of these children were also trained to educate their peers on the provisions of the articles in the convention. Other national and international agencies are part of this awareness raising and implementation of programs for children’s welfare.