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Child Friendly Budgeting and Social Accountability

The fulfilment of basic children’s rights entails costs. Government, that incurs these costs, must then generate and allocate money appropriately through the national budget. As a result of this government determines the attainment of children’s rights through the choices it makes about public finances. Hence we can conclude that the promotion of children’s rights is fundamentally linked to public budgets.

Child friendly national budgeting is a process in which a child orientated policy approach is utilised so that children’s issues become the centre of any activity in government including budgeting. A child friendly budget can therefore be defined as a budget that has children’s issues at its centre and allocates adequate money to address those issues.
The budget process is cyclical and includes the following steps

It is the responsibility of each citizen in Zimbabwe especially children to participate in the process. Every step of the budget process presents an opportunity for public scrutiny more specifically the auditing stage. In this stage citizens can hold government accountable for the manner in which public money is spent. Public participation therefore is a critical component of improved service delivery and sustainable development.

Elements of a Child Friendly National Budget

For a budget to be child friendly it must:

  • Reflect the priorities of children in its allocations
  • Protect children by reducing poverty and enhancing children’s consumption of basic public goods
  • Encourage the participation of children in the budgeting process

Characteristics of a Child Friendly Budget

·       Relevancy – it must be relevant to the developmental needs of children ·       Flexible – it must be adaptable to children’s critical needs


·       Participatory – it must encourage the respectable participation of children


·       Transparent – the process must be open to the public for scrutiny


·       Accountable – the process provide information on the expenditure of money


·       Sustainable – the budget must not be financed heavily on external debt


A child friendly budget is achievable through a process that is participatory. A process that is closed for public scrutiny therefore results in non-credible budgets that have poor outcomes for children in particular.




ZNCWC focuses on the following key strategies:

1. Organizational development
The strategy is operational at two levels. The first level is focused on ZNCWC as an umbrella institution of the child rights sector. The second level is capacity development of the membership in their areas of organizational and programmatic gaps.

2. Lobbying and Advocacy
ZNCWC works with other organizations that are in the child rights sector who have a mandate of lobbying and advocacy. ZNCWC therefore work with these organizations with the aim of enhancing both the member and the secretariat’s advocacy skills around ZNCWC’s priority areas for advocacy. ZNCWC disseminates as much information as is necessary to its membership so that they can contribute towards achievement of the ZNCWC goals on advocacy.

3. Quality Assurance
ZNCWC as a network organization, in collaboration with the Department of Social Services, ensures that the various players available all abide by best practice stipulated in the national and international frameworks of child rights programming. Such instruments include; the UNCRC, the African Charter on the rights and welfare of children, the NAP for OVC, the Children’s Act, the Births and Registration Act and other several instruments.

4. Networking
ZNCWC uses its regional structures to establish networking forums around the country. These include all players, like, governments departments that work on children’s issues, CBOs, FBOs, Residential Care institutions for children, individuals interested in the child welfare sector and even unregistered institutions. The forum at regional level meets periodically. Members also use the forum to share best practice in the child rights sector.

5. Action Research
ZNCWC occasionally commissions research to bridge information gaps or where available information is obsolete. The research is done primarily to inform existing programming initiatives and also to provide a basis for evidence based advocacy. The findings is shared with relevant stakeholders for action. The research anwers the ‘so what?’ question so that it may be relevant to what will be happening at that particular time in the sector.

6. Child Participation
Children participates in the projects and programs of ZNCWC as key stakeholders. They are represented in the various structures of the organization. The organizational constitution makes provision for the participation of children at all levels including the NEC, REC and the AGM in keeping with best practice. The participation of children is deliberately planned so that there will be equal representation by gender, by level of education and by place where the children would have come from.

ZNCWC Profile

The Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) was formed in 1968, in response to the growing number of children who were living in difficult circumstances. At its inception the organization’s main purpose was to equip residential care institutions with technical and material expertise to effectively support children. The post-independence era has been characterized by major changes in the magnitude and type of the organization’s clientele. The number of children in especially difficult circumstances has increased significantly owing to the HIV and AIDS pandemic, drought and accidents. In Zimbabwe, orphans account for over 15 per cent of all children (UNICEF 2006), and the organization has removed all forms of exclusion in the execution of its duties.

ZNCWC is the umbrella body for child rights sector that seeks to coordinate the child rights sector in Zimbabwe. Its major thrust is lobbying and advocacy, capacity building of membership, quality assurance on child oriented initiatives, child participation and research. ZNCWC works with organizations that are in the child rights sector. These organizations are all at different levels. Some are emerging; others are well established while some are still grappling with issues of registration. The organization seeks to bring into mainstream all the institutions working in the child rights sector for effective collaboration and complementarity.

The organization has managed to mainstream home-based care into the residential care sector. It has also managed to establish a community integration initiative of children under residential care. The organization facilitated the development of minimum residential care standards for institutions that work with children. ZNCWC has also developed an effective Child Participation Model which is yet to be replicated around the country, the model enables children to participate in discussion foras focused on issues that directly affect them. Through its membership, the organization was able to carry out a reunification and reintegration programme for children living in residential care with the funding from UNICEF.

Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children in partnership with Save the Children-Zimbabwe through a project title Child Rights Governance in 2011 for the UNCRC Supplementary Report Writing. The project managed to put ZNCWC at a pedestal where it can now effectively coordinate the child rights sector, a thing which never was prior to the inception of the project. Over 100 Civil society members across in child rights sector and more than 200 children were reached directly and participated in the report writing of the UNCRC Supplementary report.  In addition, the organisation coordinated the a Committee on UPR Recommendations and to that effect a Child Rights Sector UPR Report was developed and sent to Human Rights Commission. A total of US$ 70 000 was disbursed to ZNCWC in the inception year of the project

In 2011, the first ever Zimbabwe’s Child Rights audit Report was published with financial assistance of Terre des hommes– Germany. The process of coming up with an audit report was motivated by the need to review the outcome of ratifying the UNCRC. In 1990 Zimbabwe ratified the UNCRC and a lot has been done in improving the welfare of children ,however there was need to look into how children’s rights have been protected and promoted .The need to involve and promote child participation children in issues that concern them was also the chief motive of this audit report. The children had not been given the platform to air their views, thus in the audit report children participated. The audit report gave our members the platform to engage and review what has been done throughout the years 1996 to 2011 that had not been documented. A total of 107 child representatives were reached directly who in turn also consulted at least 10children each in their respective constituencies about their rights. The advocacy project with Terre Des Hommes stretches from 2007 with a budget of US$ 500 000 spread over six years. 

In 2011, ZNCWC also partnered with Progressio and a number of local NGOs under Comic Relief project ‘Hear our Voices’, a 3year contract aimed at building the capacity of child rights members on child friendly HIV and AIDS programming. In this project, ZNCWC is building the capacity of child rights organizations on child friendly HIV and AIDS programming and rights based approaches to programming. The project is also training junior parliamentarians on advocacy and engagement with policy makers. Up to date, the project has reached to 400 junior parliamentarians and 100 organizations in the child rights sector. The purpose of the project is to enhance the competency of the child rights sector on child friendly HIV and AIDS programming. One of its expected major outputs will be to produce a manual for child friendly HIV and AIDS programming for child rights organizations. The project is with US$500 000 for a period of three years.

Late last year, ZNCWC participated in development of Child Rights sector position paper to the New Constitution Draft. In this project, ZNCWC worked with Zimbabwe Institute with a total grant of $40 000.00. Though the project budget line was exhausted, the project continued monitoring the draft Constitution. A position paper is to be drafted noting our concerns and achievements as the child rights sector before the final Constitution is published.

The organisation, in collaboration with the Department of Social Services, facilitated for the development of National Residential Child Care Standards (NRCCS). The project was from 2007 and it came to an end in 2010. The project was worth US$150 000. The project worked with all residential child care institutions in the country. The project ran from 2007 up to 2010. In this project, ZNCWC in collaboration with the Department of Social Services developed residential child care standards which will regulate how children are taken care of in the institutions. A policy document being used in residential care institutions was developed.

Under National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children 1 (NAP for OVC 1), the organisation worked on reunification and community reintegration of children in residential care institutions. The project was worth US$500 000 over a period of four years. In this project, ZNCWC identified children that had traceable relatives which were living in residential care institutions and other places of safety. The children in these institutions were then reunified with their families. Further support was given to the households which had received children. The Project was under NAP 1 which had started in 2007 up to 2010.527 children were reunified throughout the lifespan of the project.

ZNCWC had an opportunity to sub grant under the Canadian Embassy. In this project, ZNCWC was given money by Canadian Embassy to ensure that Mbuya Nehanda Children’s Home, an institution with 181 children has sustainability projects which will ensure food security for the children. In this livelihoods project, ZNCWC facilitated the drilling of boreholes and revival of gardens for vegetables.

The aforementioned projects are a testimony of the competence of ZNCWC in undertaking child related projects with its partners in the child rights sector. To this call, ZNCWC brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in working with children in communities and policy makers. The project will build on the already existing momentum which the organiation has in working with organizations in the child rights sector. The momentum also involves working with children in vulnerable contexts.