PMB aims to be SA’s first Unicef-approved child-friendly city

2014-09-12 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG has set its sights on becoming the first Unicef-approved child-friendly city in South Africa.

Unicef is the United Nations Child’s Rights and Relief Organisation.

The project is being spearheaded by think-tank, The Msunduzi Innovation and Development Institute (Midi).

Work on the initiative started as far back as 2007 and the preparatory phase is to culminate in a children’s summit on October 9.

Yesterday Midi director Professor Rob Fincham, and the project manager, Irene Dugmore, gave Msunduzi’s executive committee (Exco) the rundown on the children’s city project.

Fincham said that in September 2007 a group of experts gathered to conceptualise the project. They were from the municipality, the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, the Children in Distress Network, child welfare, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Youth for Christ, Thandanani, The Child Advocacy Centre and the South African Police Services.

By 2008 a task team started working on drafting a project proposal. Fincham said the proposal described a 12-year programme to transform Msunduzi into a model children’s city, through a process “inspired, designed driven and developed by children in partnership with adults”.

In this regard Midi had convened many consultative forums over the past two years. The Children in Distress Network has been training groups of children on how to participate,

Fincham said the children are confident to speak out about their rights as ‘change ambassadors’ for the city. They recently addressed a full Msunduzi council sitting.

Dugmore said the children’s summit will involve 200 delegates, including the “change ambassadors”, and other invited children. There will be a range of speakers including representatives from Unicef.

She said the programme for the summit will be based on the nine building blocks that Unicef has set out for developing a child-friendly city. These are:

• Children’s participation;

• Making children’s rights known;

• A child-friendly legal framework;

• A city-wide children’s rights strategy;

• A children’s rights unit or co-ordinating mechanism;

• Child impact assessment and evaluation;

• A children’s budget;

• A regular state of the city’s children report; and

• Independent advocacy for children.

Exco welcomed the initiative.

Deputy mayor Thobani Zuma asked about the drawing of a lion on the logo of the summit. Dugmore said the logo was designed by children who said the lion made a big noise and that they were going to roar like the lion to get their voices heard.

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