Unicef's funding cuts for child advocacy send activists reeling

Unicef's funding cuts for child advocacy send activists reeling

Unicef's funding cuts for child advocacy send activists reeling

Activists fear that child advocacy efforts in the State will suffer in light of Unicef’s decision to reduce funding for the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory (KCRO).

Started in 2008, the Observatory is a consortium of non-governmental organisations and academicians working on advocacy, capacity building and research in the field of children’s issues. The organisation has a presence in almost every district in the State.

“There are almost 100 to150 organisations affiliated with the KCRO,” explained Vasudeva Sharma, the Convenor of the KRCO. “They work in different areas of child rights, including child labour, child protection and corporal punishment,” he said.

Many now fear that the cuts will have a negative effect on their activities. Sharma said that the cuts would force the closure of several groups in each district.

“There are a total of two to three groups affiliated with the Observatory in every district and we will definitely be forced to cut down on a number of our activities,” he said. “We will have to concentrate on specific programmes as a result of the funds crunch.”

Programmes in danger

Observatory members said that cuts will affect major activities such as field studies, the publishing of reports, organising State-level seminars, training in advocacy, and the monitoring of legislation

and the media on children’s issues.

Prasoon Sen, the Advocacy and Campaign Specialist for Unicef, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, explained that the move follows Unicef’s changing priorities and strategies in accordance with different regions and priorities. “Southern states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala represent ‘mature states.’ Then there are ‘priority states’ like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and ‘new states’ like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — which need to prioritise and plan on the basis of need,” he said.

He also revealed that the cuts are part of a time-bound plan. “A number of our programmes are part of the government’s five-year plan. Now that those five years are ending, the programmes are also coming to a close,” he said.

RTE monitoring to be hit

Several important social organisations which are a part of the KCRO, include the Child Rights Trust (CRT), the Observatory’s nodal agency, the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring and the Association for Promoting Social Action.

These organisations, have been involved in monitoring the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the State since it began in 2011. Their efforts resulted in a report in April which detailed the implementation of RTE in 90 schools within Bangalore zone.
“We were planning to bring out a similar report for all 30 districts,” said Nagasimha Rao, the Director of Child Rights Trust. “The funds from Unicef would have made it easier.”       

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