Afghanistan Child Protection Capacity Gaps Assessment - Strengthening the Child Protection Workforce

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Executive Summary

The Child Protection Area of Responsibility (CP AoR), co-led by UNICEF and Save the Children International, has facilitated a Child Protection in Emergencies Capacity and Gaps Analysis (CPiE CGA) from December 2020 to March 2021. The CPiE CGA feeds into the CP AoR’s efforts to enhance partners’ capacity to deliver services to children in line with the 2019 Child Protection Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Action , by cumulating in: i) a 2021-2022 CP AoR Capacity Building Plan, ii) a list of key CPiE actors for Afghanistan, iii) a draft service map of who does what, where and for who (4W), and iv) an overview of key CPiE capacity building materials available in the country. A total of 107 child protection staff (front line, technical managers and supervisors) from 18 organisations (8 INGOs and 8 NGOs) participated in the CPiE CGA.

Staff and organisations rank their technical capacities relatively stronger in relation to child labour, maltreatment/abuse/neglect, and SGBV-related topics, including child, early and forced marriages, displaced children, and to some extent mental health and psychosocial distress. Yet, up to 50% report weak confidence in their technical capacities and experiences, regardless of position. Further capacity building is needed in relation to all key child protection risks and concerns – and in particular with regards to i)
Landmines and explosive remnants of war, ii) Dangers and risks for injuries concerning children, iii) Physical and humiliating punishment, iv) Children associated with armed forces or armed groups, v) Sexual and economic slavery (including bacha bazi), and vi) Trafficking and smuggling.

The technical capacities versus child protection strategies and approaches are reportedly stronger regarding community-level approaches, including awareness raising, child protection case management, identification and referrals, and to some extent mental health and psychosocial support. Child protection case management (i) appears to be the topic of highest priority for further capacity building, followed by other strategies and approaches including ii) Community-level approaches, iii) Structured child/adolescent well-being activities, and iv) Reintegration programmes, which are three priority areas in the HRP 2021 for Afghanistan, as well as v) Explosive ordinance risk education, vi) Alternative care (and to some extent also prevention of family separation and UASC), and finally vii) Integrated adolescent/youth programming.

The results indicate that areas where organisations and staff frequently report their lowest technical expertise (i.e. explosive ordinance risk education, alternative care, and integrated adolescent/youth programming) are also among the strategies and approaches reported by organisations to be used the least in programming. It is possible that these are not being used as a result of lacking technical expertise, despite being important to address the risks that children experience in the Afghanistan context. This points to the importance of providing capacity-building to actors in the field, coupled with longer-term funding for programming, guided by holistic and systems’ strengthening approaches, and advocacy.

Capacity building in cross-cutting themes is furthermore needed and requested among CPiE actors, including child safeguarding, child participation, and adult learning theory and principles. There appear to also be a need to strengthen the collaboration with other sector stakeholders, to stimulate integrated programming, joint capacity building initiatives and mainstreaming of child protection in other sectors.
The engagement of child protection practitioners in the CPiE CGA has been striking. The implementation of the 2021-2022 CP AoR Capacity Building Plan will benefit from such motivation/interest. Implementation should be multifaceted and include trainings, technical supervision, and platforms for sharing learning and materials. Resources should be mobilised to support the function of the CP AoR and CPiE Working Groups, whilst collaboration with e.g. academia and donors also will be paramount to support sustainability.