Saturday, August 30, 2008

Launch of the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory

Karnataka Child Rights Observatory [KCRO] Launch.

KCRO is a consortium of NGOs, academic institutions, network organisations, with Child Right Trust as the coordinating organization. UNICEF is supporting this initiative to monitor the situation of children in Karnataka and to support various advocacy and lobbying activities to uphold rights of the child.

The project was launched in Bangalore on June 30th 2008.

Mr. Vasudeva Sharma, Director, CRT welcomed all the participants from different places and started briefing them with scope and functioning of KCRO. ”Karnataka Child Rights Observatory is an omnibus project with a number of sub-projects that together converge to provide data, analysis, publicity and pressure (as needed) for both Government and civil society to act in the best interest of the child. KCRO will be run by a consortium of NGOs and academic institutions/individuals with Child Rights Trust as the coordinating organisation”.

Dr. Shalini, IAS, DWCD, GoK thanked all the NGOs and wished this programme a grand success. She stressed the point that the best outcomes rest on team work. Government’s action plans have been initiated up to 2010 for realizing the MDGs jointly with the health and education department. New steps that have been initiated through anganwadis are Programme for Anaemic children; Child Tracking, Awareness on Child Marriages, Immunization, and Disability program to set right their disabilities in the children by conducting required surgeries. She also added that training is being conducted for anganwadi workers to recognise disabilities and report the same to the health department. Steps are being taken with regard to abandoned children by training youths through a massive awareness campaign for community participation on this issue.

Ms. Sudha Murali, Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Hyderabad, commented that the rights of children are fundamental and CRC has mandated that their rights should be considered as a legal obligation, moral imperative and development priority. She also added that Karnataka as a state has showcased and pioneered many innovative initiatives like Nali-Kali, School Sanitation; programmes for combating Child Labour etc. These are done in coordination with NGOs for the development of women and children. She also stated that DWCD and UNICEF are setting up a Child Protection Unit basically to implement various initiatives related to children and ensure convergence. Training, capacity building and networking are the key elements that will enrich the work of the Observatory.

Dr.Padmini, Trustee, CRT, presented slides on the status of Karnataka’s Children, as well as their progress on some key Child right Indicators including infant and child mortality, health and nutrition, sex ratio, school dropouts, literacy, water and sanitation, poverty etc. She pointed out that nationally collected data often do not agree with departmental or state level data, thus making comparisons across all levels difficult. The latter presented a more positive picture of the situation of children in the state, but the former were generally accepted as solid and accurate.
Despite these technical and conceptual problems, it was clear that Karnataka has a long way to go before it can reach the U.N. goals [MDGs and WFFC goals] or even catch up with its neighbouring states. Within Karnataka itself, the northern region was lagging behind the rest in most of the indicators. She further highlighted the analysis of the implications of the data presented, and possible causes for poor status or inadequate progress.

Ms. Suchitra Rao, UNICEF Project Officer, chaired the Q&A and open forum discussions. She commented that KCRO is concentrating on many special issues representing children. She questioned the gathering as to its ideas on how to go about it. What are the scientific and technical approaches that are needed so as to affect advocacy? And how to reach the new heights which will have impact on the children?

A series of responses came regarding the priorities among the themes to take up in the Observatory - requirement of a good database, lack of awareness on child rights, poverty, globalization etc and also to concentrate on the issues like:

  • Birth Registration
  • ECCD
  • Reasons for the infant and child death
  • NFH survey which is not matching with the sate government response
  • Female infanticide/sex ratio level
  • Gender disparity imbalance
  • To know about sufficient number of anganwadi schools for the children
  • The effect of primary education
  • Malnutrition & over-nutrition
  • Child sexual abuse and impact of the electronic media
  • Budget tracking in Karnataka
  • Is Quality education available for the children and how is it effective?
  • State response towards street children, HIV victims children, child labour, and to a deinstitutionalized approach.
  • School dropouts after 14 years of age, consequences, situations pertaining to it.

Some of the participants suggested that a strong database is needed. It should function independently irrespective of the time period Some also suggested that KCRO work should move beyond NGOs and it should come into contact with community development organisations. Mr.Vikas Verma, UNICEF Communications Officer, commented that KCRO is the voice of children, which looks at larger issues and not just the symptoms. UNICEF will facilitate it to make this voice heard by the desired audience. He also commented that the organisation is also working towards creating the website to reach out larger people.
Dr. Padmini stated that KCRO would be a separate entity. It should neither be identified as a separate NGO nor with CRT nor with UNICEF. She suggested that the name should be the Karnataka Child Right Observatory [KCRO}. It will be the people’s voice, which will have greater impact on the children.
Ms. Nina Naik, Chairperson, KSCCW, made the final comments, summing up the consensus of the group. She stressed that KCRO belongs to all, and it will take up all the burning issues of children with collective voice.

The programme ended with a promise to meet again in other parts of Karnataka and work towards children’s rights, with everyone contributing towards KCRO.


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