Ghana – IOM Ghana held a closing workshop (2/11) for its project: Increasing Child Protection and Combatting Child Trafficking in 8 Districts of the Volta Region through Community Child Rights Education.
Under this two-year project, supported by UNICEF, a toolkit on child protection and counter trafficking titled Free to Be Me was developed in 2013. The toolkit was distributed in 43 selected communities within eight districts of the Volta Region, with an additional six communities reached through the project’s pilot phase which began in November 2012.
The toolkit aims to build the capacity of local communities to address and prevent child trafficking and protection violations by engaging community members, parents, and children. Over 127 volunteers and district officials were trained to implement the toolkit, and over 5,000 community members were reached.
The dissemination of the toolkit also resulted in the parent-led return of 43 children to eight communities. Additionally, there was a decrease in cases of child trafficking in the targeted communities and an improvement in children’s achievement at school, as well as improved relationships between parents and children.
According to the US State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report (2017 TIP Report), Ghana is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. The exploitation of Ghanaians within the country – particularly children in the fishing and domestic service industries – is more prevalent compared with the average cases of transnational trafficking of foreigners worldwide. The project targeted the Volta Region, which has the highest incidences of child trafficking in Ghana due to the region’s growing fishing industry.
The IOM Ghana workshops provide an opportunity to share project methodology, lessons learned, and testimonials from community members and district officials. Additionally, participants can engage in a question-and-answer session and watch a summary video about the project.
A major component of the project included the drawing of the Tree of Life within communities by parents and their children, during which parents made a commitment to nurture their children appropriately. This public drawing exercise has been used in various communities to educate visitors, and even potential traffickers, on the community’s commitment to support its children so as to prevent trafficking.
The closing workshop was attended by delegations from over 29 organizations including the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection; the Department of Social Welfare; the Volta Regional Coordinating Council; and Parliamentarians without Borders for Children’s Rights.
John Terkpetey, Volta Regional Labour Officer said, “IOM and UNICEF need to be commended for this project in reducing the human trafficking menace through the use of the toolkit. The methodology used was solid.”
Community members and volunteers also shared their optimism about the future of preventing child trafficking in their communities, using the skills and tools they had learned over the course of the campaign. A community leader from Toklosu Community stated: “We the leaders will make sure that children in our community are well protected, and enjoy their basic human rights.”
“This project has demonstrated the tremendous impact that community human rights education can have on child protection,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission. “We hope that the Trees of Life that have sprung across the Volta Region will prevent the trafficking of any more children in the communities where we’ve worked.”
Though this particular partnership project has come to a close, IOM Ghana remains committed to child protection and counter-trafficking initiatives and to continued collaboration with the Ghana Child Protection Compact Partnership (CPC).
For more information please contact Alexander Billings at IOM Ghana, Tel: +233 302 742 930 ext. 2413, Email: email@example.com
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