Towards Child-Centred Sustainable Development Goals: Implications on Child Welfare Policy and Practice in Zimbabwe

Towards Child-Centred Sustainable Development Goals: Implications on Child Welfare Policy and Practice in Zimbabwe

Tatenda Goodman Nhapi (Independent Researcher, Zimbabwe) and Takudzwa Leonard Mathende (UK Local Authority, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3247-7.ch005
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This chapter is mainly based on a historiography approach and explores enhanced child protection and safeguarding mainstreaming in Zimbabwe within the milieu of sustainable development goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs set the tone for further global development outcomes taking off from the millennium development goals. The chapter unpacks how SDGs can complement Zimbabwe's readily comprehensive legal and child protection policy framework to enrich child protection. The chapter offers recommendations on possible approaches to dovetail SDG targets with enhanced child protection and development in Zimbabwe.
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It is widely acknowledged that Zimbabwe and other African countries struggled to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) (2000-2015). Specifically, those related to the development, protection and welfare of children. However, the United Nations MDG Report (2014) notes that the MDGs made a profound difference in people’s lives. Based on the generalized view that MDGs made positive changes on the lives of citizens, it is therefore prudent to reflect on how the Sustainable Development Goals- Agenda 2030 (SDGs) can be used to obtain localized positive child development outcomes. The Government of Zimbabwe is yet to roll out the process of realigning or reviewing its domestic policies and programs in line with the universal SDGs. Therefore, this study seeks to contribute towards policy and program development in Zimbabwe’s child welfare system within the context of SDGs.

This chapter mainly bases on a historiographical approach through review of secondary sources of data like commissioned action research findings and empirical research outputs by the state and non-state actors. The objective of the study was to: a) Explore ways of enhancing the mainstreaming of child protection, child centered development and safeguarding in Zimbabwe within the milieu of SDGs; b) explore economic and social dimensions whilst applying children’s best interests’ lens in pursuit of sustainable development; c) catalogue different thematic needs that should be prioritized within the milieu of SDGs; d) unpack how SDGs can complement Zimbabwe’s readily comprehensive legal and child protection policy framework to enrich child protection; and e) proffer recommendations on possible approaches to dovetail SDGs targets with enhanced child protection and development in Zimbabwe.

The United Nations General Assembly on September 25th 2015 adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. As was required in the MDGs era, the attainment of goals calls for everyone to play a part: governments, the private sector, civil society and researchers.

The 17 SDGs set the tone for further global development outcomes taking off from the MGDs. The SGDs cover the following thematic areas: poverty, food, health, education, women, water, energy, economy, infrastructure, inequality, habitation, consumption, climate, marine-ecosystems, ecosystems, institutions and sustainability. Holistically, SDGS are directly and indirectly linked to the welfare of children. Goals 1-6 directly address health disparities, primarily in developing countries. These six goals address key issues in public health, poverty, hunger and food security, health, education, gender equality and women's empowerment, and water and sanitation.

Given the above, the role of child welfare researchers in facilitating the development and sharing of knowledge on issue of sustainable development cannot be ignored or underestimated. Mainstream debates have been useful in dissecting and bringing to light the core nature of the role of children and youths in development especially within the context of rights based approaches guaranteeing best interests of the child like the United Nations Conventions on Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children.

When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account. However, they exclude the experiences and resilience of children in negotiating, responding to and coping with challenges in negotiating access to development interventions. This is because child and youth participation in development interventions or negotiations as the SDGs is given lip service. Using the lens of the Zimbabwean child centred development policy implementation dynamics and experience, the chapter articulates critical perspectives on the policy framework governing child rights and implementation of development agenda by the Zimbabwean government to offer alternatives for children and youth centric SDGs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Development: A process of economic growth, a rapid and sustained expansion of production, productivity, and income per head.

Children: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that the term child be used to describe all those under the age of 18. The 18 years also coincides with the age of majority for the constitutions of most countries including that of Zimbabwe. The Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06] defines a child as a person under the age of 16, including an infant. An infant is defined as a person under the age of 7 years, while a minor is defined as a person under the age of 18 years.

Children Living and Working on the Streets: Children under the age of18 who spend most of their time on the street. These children lack the care and protection of guardians and families.

Social Protection: Action to protect citizens against livelihood risks, promote the livelihoods and capabilities of the vulnerable, and enhance the social status and rights of the marginalized.

Poverty: Capability failure or capability deprivation.

Youth: Depends on which dimension of “youth” takes precedence: demographic (e.g., age), cultural (notions of adulthood), biological (attainment of puberty), social (attainment of maturity or marriageability), or economic (e.g., ability to sustain oneself). The spectrum of youth has been variously defined to range from the ages of 10 or 11 years (as in some cultural traditions) to as high as 34 years.

Child Best Interests: The right of the child to have his or her best interests assessed and taken as a primary consideration when different interests are being considered in order to reach a decision on the issue at stake, and the guarantee that this right will be implemented whenever a decision is to be made concerning a child, a group of identified or unidentified children or children in general.

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