Transportation challenges for clients to report and seek services, in addition to inaccessibility of health service due to strikes or infection of health-care staff, are resulting in survivors of violence failing to access post rape care in health facilities as child protection partners need to contact private doctors to receive care for clients.
Quarantine measures have placed new stressors on parents and caregivers as a result of children’s prolonged stay at home due to school closure and loss of livelihood due to COVID-19 induced economic challenges.
Feedback meetings with Bulawayo, Epworth and Bulilima mentors indicated that the main child protection concerns in these districts were sexual abuse, child neglect, and emotional and physical abuse. In Mazoe, children in late primary and secondary schools are victims of sexual abuse by illegal miners resulting in unintended and unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
There is a need for advocacy for waiver of access fees for children, adolescents and young mothers when accessing antiretroviral medication.
In October and November 2020, UNICEF working with nine civil society organizations (CSOs) continued to provide community-based psycho-social support (PSS) targeting vulnerable communities. A total of 12,619 vulnerable children (6,104 female, 4,576 male and 1,939 children with disabilities including 911 female and 1028 male) were reached with community-based PSS interventions including at child safe spaces, bringing a cumulative reach of 91,969 children (45,212 female and 30,931 male) and 15,826 children with disabilities (8,284 male and 7,542 female).
Through a partnership with Child Protection Society, UNICEF continued to support family tracing and reunification (FTR) of separated and unaccompanied Children. A total of 37 children (18 female and 19 males) were reunified with their families or placed in alternative care arrangements, after living and working on the street. Cumulatively, a total of 943 (365 females and 608 males) have been provided with FTR services.
The sub-cluster also continued to rump-up delivery case management services- supporting survivors’ violence. A total of 269 children (198 girls, 58 boys and 18 children living with disabilities (12 female and 6 male)) were reached with response services. Cumulatively, 7,225 children have received response services through the National Case Management System (NCMS), including 6,124 female, 941 male and 160 (107 female and 53 male) children living with disabilities. UNICEF continued to support safe and confidential reporting of SGBV through the adult helpline.
To address the challenges that parents and caregivers are facing during COVID-19, four radio programmes which are part of the, "Live Well: Parenting in COVID-19 Series" were aired on SKYZMETRO FM at 11:30 a.m. The radio sessions are aimed at dissemination of positive parenting messaging to foster child protection and resilience in the face of COVID-19 which include interactive sessions with live call ins and WhatsApp messaging. During the reporting period, the CP cluster rolled out four drama sessions per week, two on Skyz Metro (estimated 500,000 listeners), one on National FM (698,000 listeners) and one on Radio Zimbabwe (2,500,000 listeners).
Child protection partners continue to work towards ensuring that services are accessible to their clients despite the challenges including: hiring minivans that are used to transport survivors of violence to ensure they have access to post rape care and for ongoing capacity building initiatives where training participants are provided with transportation in areas where public transport is not available.
Increase in airtime for staff for continued provision of psychosocial support, remote follow ups and facilitation of case referrals and procurement of PPE.
There is a lack of COVID-19 related information in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, especially for the deaf and hard of hearing, and the blind or partially blind people.
Service delivery is challenged by the lack of adequate PPE. Taking into consideration that CP services cannot always be delivered at 1.5 metres distance, surgical masks and gowns are needed for first line responders. There is increased anxiety among staff for fear of infection.
Quarantine facilities, residential care centres and other places of safety where children who were previously living on the streets and children returning from Botswana and South Africa have been placed, lack the bare minimum of basic services to maintain adequate personal hygiene, recreation and services to care for them. In addition, there is a lack of non-food items with specific items to cater for the needs of infants in support of mothers with children under age 2 in quarantine facilities.
Child protection has only received 8 per cent funding of the total US$9.6 million that is required. Without this funding, partners continue to face challenges in ensuring the mental health and well-being of all frontline workers. This includes access mental health and psychosocial care, provision of recreational materials for use by children in quarantine facilities, addressing stigma, additional vehicles to facilitate the movement of clients and procurement of adequate PPE to ensure COVID-19 prevention measures are adhered to when conducting home visits for critical cases that cannot be followed up remotely. While partners acknowledge the need to ﬁll this gap the lack of resources remains a limiting factor.